Exercise practically goes hand-in-hand with wetness. For one, there's sweat everywhere — including crotch sweat — but maybe you also look at your underwear after a workout and think, huh, is there some discharge there?
Here's what might be going on:
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1. It's Just Your Body Doing Its Thing
The first thing to know is that vaginal discharge throughout the day — no matter what you're doing — is totally normal. This fluid is made up of mostly water plus some microorganisms, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Some people with vaginas say they notice an increase in clear watery discharge when they work out, says Jodie Horton, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn and chief wellness advisor for Love Wellness.
If this is the case, and you don't have any other symptoms, then it's likely nothing at all to worry about — just your body doing what bodies do.
2. It's Almost That Time of the Month
You may notice more clear or white-ish discharge after exercise depending on where you are in your cycle, with secretions ramping up around ovulation. This increase isn't necessarily connected to working out, but you may notice more fluid in your underwear at that time.
Healthy discharge is clear or white and doesn't have a strong odor, ACOG notes. As long as your discharge looks like this and is normal for you, there's no need to worry.
3. You Have a Yeast Infection
If you're noticing a change in your body's normal discharge, that's always something to pay attention to, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.
One of the more common reasons for extra discharge during or after exercise is an infection.
"There are many women who will develop a yeast infection with working out a lot," Dr. Minkin says. That's due to spending excess time in sweaty workout clothes, as warm, damp environments allow yeast a chance to grow.
Symptoms of a yeast infection include discharge that looks thick and white like cottage cheese, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
With a yeast infection, you may also notice vaginal itching and soreness or pain with peeing or intercourse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Itching is usually externally located in the vulva," Dr. Minkin adds.
If this is your first time having a yeast infection, it's important to visit your gynecologist to verify the infection before treating it yourself with over-the-counter yeast infection creams. That's because symptoms can look similar to other vaginal infections and some STIs, and you want to make sure you're using the right treatment.
How to Prevent Yeast Infections From Working Out
Yeast infections are not fun (to say the least). If you're susceptible to these infections and think your workouts might be setting the stage for a fungal infection to thrive, Dr. Minkin recommends a few preventative measures:
1. Change Up Your Underwear
Go for white cotton undies or sweat-wicking underwear made for working out, and avoid tight underwear and workout clothes.
2. Shower After You Sweat
Rather than hanging out in your sweaty leggings, change out of them and shower off.
3. Dry Off Gently
If your vaginal area is irritated, skip rubbing a towel down there to dry off — instead, gently pat yourself dry. Using a hair dryer on a low heat setting is a gentler way to remove excess moisture.
Make sure your vaginal area is completely dry before you put on clothes to prevent further irritation or infection.
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Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.