The uterus is a hollow organ that sits deep within a woman’s abdomen, nestled between the bladder and rectum. Most women rarely think about the uterus, other than during pregnancy or the week of the menstrual cycle, but some have medical conditions that affect the uterus on a daily basis. Although exercise is generally safe for women with uterus problems, it is important to speak with a physician before initiating a moderate to vigorous intensity workout routine, such as running.
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Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop inside the uterus from the organ’s muscle tissue and eventually form into a firm rubbery mass along the uterus wall. Most fibroids are relatively small, although they can become large enough to change the shape of the uterus. As of 2011, the exact cause of fibroid growth is unknown, although genetic alterations, hormone levels and specific chemicals might be related. Uterine fibroids are generally asymptomatic, but some women might experience pain or pressure near the pelvis, frequent urination and heavy bleeding during menstruation. Large uterine fibroids that hang from a stalk may twist during physical activity, such as running. When this occurs, the blood supply to the fibroid is diminished, resulting in intense pain.
Uterine prolapse is a medical condition that occurs when the uterus slips from its normal position, occasionally dropping into or outside of the vagina. The repetitive bouncing motion involved in running can worsen already-weakened pelvic floor muscles. If your pelvic floor muscles have been weakened or damaged by vaginal childbirth, aging, chronic constipation or obesity, running could increase your risk of prolapse. Although a mild case of uterine prolapse generally has no symptoms or side effects, more severe cases often cause pressure on the bladder, bowel and pelvis, pain in the abdomen and lower back, abnormal vaginal discharge and difficult urination.
Often accompanied by intense pain, endometriosis occurs when the inside lining grows outside the uterus. With every normal menstrual cycle, endometrial tissue thickens, breaks down, bleeds and exits the body. But displaced endometrial tissue cannot exit the body and becomes trapped, irritating surrounding tissues and organs. Along with severe pelvic pain, many women also experience severe menstrual cramping, excessive bleeding and fatigue. Running can actually relieve symptoms of endometriosis. According to "Fitness Magazine," regular physical activity helps reduce estrogen levels and your body’s hormonal pain receptors. But if running worsens your endometriosis pain or causes excessive bleeding, avoid the activity and consult your physician.
If you have a medical condition affecting your uterus, speak with your doctor before initiating a running routine. He can help you determine whether running is a safe activity for your condition. Additionally, if you experience excessive abdominal or pelvic discomfort, pain, vaginal bleeding or discharge while running, stop immediately and consult your physician.