You’ve likely dealt with it all: pit stains, damp bras, butt sweat, and makeup that doesn’t last past lunch—but as the days get longer (and so much hotter), you may find yourself combating sweat around your vaginal area, too.
Here’s what you need to know if you have problems with crotch sweat, and what you can do to wick away the excess moisture.
Why do you get sweaty around your vagina, anyway?
Reminder: Your vagina is the inside portion of your body, and it doesn’t sweat. Everything surrounding it is your vulva, which has a higher concentration of hair follicles and sweat glands—like your armpits, groin, and scalp.
Like any other part of your body that sweats, your crotch area will do what it can to prevent over-heating. “Sweating is your body’s air conditioner,” says Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Massachusetts. “It provides the body with a way of cooling itself down.”
Most women will start to notice more crotch sweat during extremely warm temperatures or during intense exercise, says Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip, but sweat can also be triggered by stress for some people.
It’s important to note that sweating, even around your vagina, is totally normal.
Does crotch sweat always cause vaginal odour?
When things get damp, ever notice that it tends to smell down there too? That’s because your vaginal area is home to two different types of sweat glands, explains Suzanne Friedler, MD, FAAD of Advanced Dermatology, in New York City.
Most of your body is covered in eccrine glands, which produce a watery sweat as your system tries to cool down, like after a hard run. But you can also find odour-producing apocrine glands around your crotch, the kind that typically the only hangout in your armpits.
These glands can produce vaginal odour, and it’s usually harmless. Still, you should pay close attention to it. If your vagina persistently starts smelling funkier than usual, it could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis (a vaginal infection with a distinct fishy odour) or a sexually transmitted infection.
How to treat and prevent sweat around your vagina
So what you can do about crotch sweat? Keep these tips in mind next time things feel too moist for comfort down there.
Wear moisture-wicking fabrics
Avoid panty liners if you can. The can actually cause you to sweat more since they trap heat. If your flow is heavy or you just feel more comfortable with a little extra protection, opt for pads or panty liners that are 100 percent cotton, as they help wick away moisture and are more breathable than ones made of synthetic materials.
Then, opt for breathable underwear, too. Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends choosing loose, cotton materials whenever possible. You can also reach for underwear with moisture-wicking properties.
If you’re working out, ditch your clothes ASAP after exercising to cut down on the risk of skin conditions like folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles) or yeast infections.
Trim things up
Especially during the warmer months, doing a bit of grooming below the belt can also help minimize sweat around your vagina, says Alan Parks, MD, founder of DermWarehouse. This is obviously an extremely personal choice, but can help if you decide to try it. Pubic hair actually aggravates your sweat glands, prevents sweat from evaporating, and may trap unpleasant smells, so giving it a trim can give your skin some room to breathe.
Use a gentle cleanser
The right products can make all the difference. Your vagina is extremely sensitive, says Dr. Parks, so it’s important to note that hygiene products should never actually go inside of it. This can throw off your vaginal pH and increase your risk of infections.
You don’t need harsh soaps to clean your vagina, even if you’re dealing with odour from crotch sweat, “Always opt for a gentle cleanser in this area,” says Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip, like Cetaphil’s Deep-Cleansing Bar, Vanicream Gentle Cleanser, or Dove’s Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar. Simply wash around your vulva to keep things smelling fresh.
Apply a bit of powder
Using a cornstarch-based powder that absorbs moisture, like this one from Vagisil, can be a lifesaver for people prone to crotch sweat. Again, just make sure you’re not actually putting it inside your vagina, Dr. Parks warns, and opt for light dusting around your vulva. Avoid talc-based baby powder or talcum powder, as they have been linked to negative health effects in women, including an increased risk of ovarian cancer.