Every woman has some vaginal discharge. In fact, most women produce about a teaspoon of this clear-to-whitish fluid a day, making it virtually unnoticeable. The amount of discharge, however, does change, based largely on your menstrual cycle. During certain times of the month, particularly before ovulation, you may see an increase in its production. Though this is the most common cause of changes, other factors are known to influence this discharge as well, including exercise.
According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, it isn't uncommon to experience a heavier vaginal discharge after exercise. It's usually clear and watery in appearance and can be brought on by almost any type of physical activity. For the most part, you shouldn't be alarmed by this change.
It's also possible to experience some vaginal discharge in the form of spotting after exercise, especially when seen in relation to a change in your workout routine. This is at least partly due to hormones. A study led by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine noted increases in both human growth hormone and cortisol after women took part in heavy-resistance exercises. Too much of any one hormone in the female body could lead to a hormonal imbalance. An imbalance, advises the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, could trigger menstrual spotting in some women. That being said, you should still consult a doctor if you develop spotting after exercise.
You may also notice a thick, whitish discharge after exercising, but this doesn't have anything to do with your level of physical activity. It's usually an indication that you're either beginning or ending your menstrual cycle. When this discharge is accompanied by itching, burning or discomfort, however, you may be suffering from a yeast infection. Your doctor can recommend the appropriate form of treatment, including medications like fluconazole, butoconazole, clotrimazole, miconazole and terconazole.
If you notice other changes in your vaginal discharge, it may not have anything to do with the exercise. A greenish or yellowish hue to the discharge could be a sign that you're suffering from an infection while a brownish hue often follows menstrual cycles. Always talk to your doctor about any concerns involving vaginal discharge.
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Female Health -- Vaginal Discharge
- National Institutes of Health; Vaginal Discharge; Nov 2009
- National Institutes of Health; Menstrual Periods -- Heavy, Prolonged or Irregular; Sept 2009
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
- "Journal of Applied Physiology"; Changes in Hormonal Concentrations After Different Heavy-Resistance Exercise Protocols in Women; W.J. Kraemer; August 1993
- Health Science Report; Heavy Vaginal Discharge; Joe Glickman