Exercise is great for your mind, your body, your immune system, and your overall health. For your vagina? That’s where things can get complicated. While vaginal exercises (like kegels) are encouraged, that’s not what we’re talking about here. I’m referring to “regular” working out – jogging, hitting the gym, doing a yoga class, taking a bide ride, etc. That kind of exercise can mess with your down there area, leading to irritation, infections, and more. So, if you exercise, you have to know this stuff about your vagina.
You might be taking the proper precautions with the rest of your body – wearing the right workout clothes, tying your hair back so it doesn’t get in the way, wearing comfy shoes – but are you taking precautions with your vagina? Probably not! Honestly, I never gave it much of a second thought at the gym until recently, when one of our writers told me about going commando while exercising. If you want to keep everything happy and safe down there and still get your sweat on, read on. Here are some surprising things you need to know about your vagina if you work out:
Cycling Can Make Your Labia Hang LowerBike riding is a great workout, whether you're doing it outside or in a cycling class, but the seat can really bother your vaginal area. Christine Hamori, M.D., director of Cosmetic Surgery + Skin Spa in Duxbury, Massachusetts, told Shape that "the constant friction of crotch-to-seat contact can pull and stretch your labia, especially if you have naturally pronounced outer lips." If you're stressed about it, just cut down on the cycling, or try not to move around as much - you can also buy a gel seat to put on top of the regular seat of a bike so things are more comfortable. Or, just forget about it! Source: iStock
Queefing Is More Common Than You ThinkHave you ever heard people joking about farting during yoga or Pilates class? It happens naturally when your body is in those kinds of positions... and queefing is pretty much the same thing. There are even entire boards dedicated to tips on how to stop queefing during class. Honestly, though, it's totally natural - just let it go. Source: iStock
High Intensity Exercise Can Cause Spotting or Lighter PeriodsWomen who train very hard often experience either lighter periods, or even less frequent periods - this is pretty common with a lot of high intensity exercise. Spotting, while less common than that, is still nothing weird when it comes to lots of difficult working out. According to "Popsugar, "...Spotting or loss of periods, could be a sign that you are stressing your body too much. The bleeding itself is probably not dangerous, assuming it is only a small amount, but you could be causing damage to other parts of your body from exercising too much or too hard. I would recommend listening to what your body is telling you and try to cut back a little to see if the spotting goes away." Source: iStock
You Shouldn't Be Wearing UnderwearWhen you exercise, you're either wearing tight pants and sweating, or you're wearing underwear that gets bunched up and leads to sweating - or both. Plus, if you're sitting on machines or cycling or something like that, it causes friction and makes things worse. It's a good idea to go commando whenever you can when you're working out. The breathable fabric of your Lycra pants should be enough to protect your vag - and this means that it gets more air even though it's hot down there, which can help prevent infections. Source: iStock
Cycling Can Make Your Vagina SoreAnyone with a vagina who has done a cycling class or tried bike riding will tell you that doing so can leave you with a pretty sore vag. It's not comfortable! This is especially true if you're moving around a lot - classes like SoulCycle can leave you with bruising down there. This is normal, and if you do cycling on a regular basis, eventually it stops happening. But to prevent it, you can buy a more comfortable seat for your bike. If you do cycling classes, try positioning the seat one notch lower than you think you need it. Source: iStock
Sitting Around In Tight, Sweaty Clothes Can Lead To An InfectionVaginal infections caused by working out are common - but it's not the actual exercise that's causing it. What's really making things funky down there is all of the sweat. Make sure you change right after exercising - sitting around in sweaty, tight clothes can lead to smelliness, infections, and irritation. Source: iStock
Wearing Thongs During A Workout Is A Bad IdeaThe clothes you wear while at the gym are important! If you want to wear underwear, make sure you're wearing cotton pairs - definitely don't wear lace or silk or anything like that. And avoid thongs like the plague. I know that they don't show pantylines, but thongs are already known for giving infections - thongs while working out are even worse. They transfer bacteria from your anus to your vag, and do so even more when you're moving around a lot and sweating. Try going commando or wearing underwear made specifically for exercise that is moisture wicking and pantyline-free. Source: iStock
Exercise Can Help Ease Period CrampsWhen you're doubled over in pain from cramps, the last thing you want to do is put on tight pants and go for a run. So, if the cramps are REALLY bad, don't exercise until you feel a little better. But if they're mild enough to move around, do some sort of exercise, preferably cardio. It can soothe the cramps and make you feel a lot better. Source: iStock
Sweat Can Lead To A RashSweat down there doesn't only cause infections - it can also lead to a rash, which is just as uncomfortable. This is usually caused by the friction of something against your skin. Make sure you're buying the right fabrics and change out of your workout clothes right away. Source: iStock
Tight Workout Clothes Can Lead To Ingrown HairsDamn, exercise clothes are a pain! Tight pants, while great for keeping your clothing out of your way, can lead to ingrown hairs down there thanks to friction and sweat. To avoid them, use a powder or something down there to cut down on the friction. You can also avoid waxing right before working out. Source: iStock
Do you exercise? Which fact did you find the most surprising? Let us know in the comments.