Exercises to Assist with Uterine Prolapse
By Kristi Patrice Carter
Uterine prolapse, a condition affecting women who have given birth multiple times or who may have had difficult vaginal deliveries, is caused by a weakening of the pelvic muscles and ligaments. These tissues comprise the pelvic support system, which essentially holds the uterus in place, and much like any other muscle, they can become weakened or slack over time because of excessive strain.
Pelvic muscles can be damaged or weakened in several ways, including:
- Chronic constipation, which causes strain on the abdominal muscles
- Constant straining from coughing or lifting weights
- Pelvic tumors
- Pregnancy, particularly multiple pregnancies or multiple births such as twins
- Vaginal childbirth, especially following a prolonged labor
Pelvic floor exercises are beneficial for strengthening weakened muscles that cause uterine prolapse. The most common of which is the Kegel exercise, named after the doctor who popularized the practice of targeting and strengthening the pelvic diaphragm. Exercising the pelvic floor muscles for just five minutes, three times each day can strengthen the tissue and ligaments that hold the uterus, bladder, and other organs in their proper places.
To locate the correct pelvic muscles:
- Begin first by trying to stop the flow of urine while sitting down on the toilet, if you are able to stop urinating, you’ve found the right muscles.
- Clench the muscles you would use if you were trying to stop yourself from passing gas.
- If you still are unsure as to whether or not you’re targeting the right muscle group, lie down and insert one or two fingers into the vagina. Again, bear down or squeeze as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine, if there is a tightening around your finger, you have found the correct pelvic muscles.
To exercise the pelvic muscles:
- Lie down, tighten the pelvic muscles, and hold for a count of three. Relax for another count of three working your way up to 10 to 15 sets each time you do the exercise, which should be three times per day.
- Doing Kegel exercises while in varying positions helps to make pelvic muscles their strongest. Try doing the exercises lying down, then standing, then sitting.
- Be sure not to hold your breath or tighten any other muscles at the same time you are squeezing the pelvic muscle. Excessive pressure can be put on the bladder by squeezing the wrong muscle group.
- Be patient as it may take several weeks to notice differences such as improved bladder control.
Other points to remember to improve or avoid uterine prolapse are:
- Avoid constipation by following a diet high in fiber.
- Avoid heavy lifting and straining.
- Have regular pelvic examinations.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Remember to do daily exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles and to help control bladder problems.
- Squeeze or clench your muscles when coughing and sneezing to prevent damage to muscles caused by the onset of sudden pressure.