It’s Not a Myth?! Distance Running Can Make Your Uterus Fall Out

Well blow me down…

At the FitSugar web site, a woman writes in for medical advice:

Hi DrSugar,

I have a fitness-meets-medical question. Does running cause uterine prolapse? Generally, it occurs after child birth, however, I recently heard that skipping or running (or any such activity) while menstruating may lead to uterine prolapse and I’ve been worried ever since! Can you please clarify this issue for me as I hate missing my running sessions.

— One Worried Runner

First, Dr. Sugar explains what uterine prolapse is.

Uterine prolapse means that one’s uterus has descended from its normal position in the pelvis down into one’s vagina. Normally, your uterus is held in place by the muscles and ligaments that make up the floor of the pelvis. Uterine prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments stretch and weaken, which in turn provides inadequate support for the uterus to stay in place. There are varying degrees of prolapse as the uterus can descend into the lower vagina or even through the opening of the vagina.


She then adds:

Long-distance runners do have a higher propensity toward uterine prolapse. The running likely does not cause weakened muscles and tissues, but it can worsen an already weakened pelvic floor due to the constant impact. Menstruation can also worsen preexisting prolapse symptoms. In my research, I did not find any evidence that exercise (during menstruation specifically) can cause uterine prolapse.

This condition may not be news to female readers, but the only time I’ve ever heard of this in the past was when people were ridiculing advice women runners used to get. I’m astounded to learn it has at least some basis in fact. A little research turned up several discussions of the problem, including one on the Runner’s World forum, and a specific blog post here. I also found photos, but I’ll spare you that sight.

Next we’ll be hearing that running without shoes is healthier. Oh….