Can Running Cause Spotting?

Running and other forms of aerobic exercise can promote a number of important benefits, including improved heart health and the prevention of some types of cancer. Exercise is not without its drawbacks, however, especially when performed to excess. Women who experience vaginal spotting after participating in a structured running routine may suspect that the physical activity is to blame.

Running (Image: ViktorCap/iStock/Getty Images)

Spotting Basics

Vaginal spotting, or metrorrhagia, is a type of vaginal bleeding that occurs between regular monthly menstruation, reports Medline Plus. Occasionally, women may experience abdominal pain or cramping along with vaginal spotting. Core Physicians note that vaginal spotting is a relatively common problem that occurs frequently in teenagers and women who are nearing menopause.

Causes of Spotting

Vaginal spotting has several causes, including hormone imbalance, the presence of fibroids or polyps and the use of intrauterine devices. Medical Disability Guidelines report that stress, miscarriage and gynecologic conditions including certain types of cancer may also be associated with the development of metrorrhagia. In some cases, metrorrhagia may accompany the use of birth control pills.

Running and Menstrual Dysfunction

Excessive exercise, including running, is a strong risk factor for the development of secondary amenorrhea, which is defined as a lack of menstruation for three months in women who were previously menstruating regularly. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, amenorrhea can occur as a result of high levels of physical activity, low body weight and disruptions in hormone balance. ACSM also reports, however, that research to date has established no link between running or other forms of exercise and the development of metrorrhagia. While runners may experience vaginal spotting, physical activity is unlikely to be the cause of the condition.

Care for Spotting

Women who experience vaginal spotting may want to seek medical care, especially if the condition occurs regularly. According to Atlantic OB-GYN, the treatment for vaginal spotting often depends on the cause of the condition. Some women may experience relief from metrorrhagia through the use of prescription hormones, whereas others may require more invasive techniques. In some cases, hysteroscopy, hysterectomy or an endometrial ablation may be required to stop vaginal spotting.

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