Do you remember the first time you realised that your vagina region gets sweaty? Maybe you worked out extra hard or spent a long day walking around in the heat. Then, when you got to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, you notice some seriously, er, sweaty underwear.
I mean, everyone knows that people sweat from their armpits, forehead, and sometimes their backs or hands. But being sweaty adjacent to the vagina?! That is less than ideal, let’s be honest. Here’s the scoop on whether sweating down there is typical, or something to be concerned about.
First of all, getting sweaty in the vagina area is totally normal.
It happens to everyone. That’s because we sweat wherever we have sweat glands, says Dr Chris Adigun, a dermatologist based in North Carolina. And there are sweat glands all over your vulva, which is the external area surrounding the vagina.
Remember: Your vagina is internal — it’s what you feel if you stick your finger inside the hole toward the bottom of your vulva. And there are no sweat glands up there, Dr Adigun points out. So, it’s not really true to say that your vagina is sweating, just to be extra clear.
However, there are sweat glands on the parts *around* your vagina. Specifically, sweat glands exist where the hair on your vulva exists — that’s the labia majora (the big, outer “lips”), the mons pubis (the hump above your vagina), and the groin (where your legs meet your pelvis). “Your groin is not really all that different from your underarm,” Dr Adigun says.
Just like your armpit, your groin is a junction between a limb and your trunk (except instead of your arms, it’s your legs). That’s why it makes more sense to call perspiration down there crotch sweat, as opposed to vagina sweat.
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Is it possible to have *too much* crotch sweat?
Most of the time, a little sweat in your vulva area is nothing to worry about, Dr Adigun says. We all sweat, and sometimes that sweat happens to be downstairs. If you’re sweating while exercising or when you’re really hot, that’s not unusual, she notes. So instead of feeling awk when you spot a sweat stain on your yoga pants, consider taking it as a sign of a hardcore workout (and a sign of how totally awesome you are!).
Of course, some people do sweat more than what doctors would consider normal, and too much crotch sweat can interfere with your everyday life. That kind of excessive sweating is called hyperhidrosis.
While people who have hyperhidrosis most often sweat more than the average person from their head, armpits, hands, and feet, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, they can sometimes have extra-intense sweating in their genital zone. In one case study, a healthy 17-year-old girl went to her doctors because she frequently sweats through her shorts. She sweats so much that she would wear thick maxi pads every day to try to keep her pants dry.
That’s certainly an abnormal amount of sweat down there. But you don’t need to have that much sweat to make an appointment with your dermatologist: “Like abnormal sweating on any part of your body, if you’re soaking through your clothing when you’re not really hot, that’s more than normal,” Dr Adigun says.
It’s worth making an appointment anytime sweat is making you feel uncomfortable or inhibiting your life in some way. Dr Adigun sees patients all the time who are concerned about crotch sweat because they’ve been embarrassed by sweat stains on their pants one too many times.
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What can you do to help keep a sweaty groin area dry?
There are several options, Dr Adigun says. First, she suggests that people try topical antiperspirants. These aren’t your typical deodorants. Instead, you want to use something like Certain Dri, which will say “antiperspirant” on the packaging. While deodorants mask the odour of sweat, antiperspirants temporarily plug up your sweat glands so that you physically sweat less.
She suggests using the roller-ball versions, which can be easier to use on precise areas like your groin. But it doesn’t work for everyone: “This is pretty sensitive skin,” Dr Adigun says. “So, sometimes [antiperspirants] can be a little bit irritating.” Be extra careful to keep the application away from the actual vagina to reduce the risk of infection from a potentially irritating product.
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As an alternative, she routinely does Botox injections in the groin area. That may sound terrifying (a needle near your vulva?!), but it’s generally safe and super effective. While most of us know about Botox for its wrinkle-smoothing ability, the injection is often also used to stop excessive sweating. It suppresses your sweat glands so they don’t sweat as much, and it lasts a long time. Usually, you’ll have to redo Botox injections twice a year — that’s six whole months of sweat suppression.
But that’s about it for the major interventions, Dr Adigun says. The other fixes doctors usually use for sweat — Iontophoresis and MiraDry — are not used on the vulva. Both of these procedures go deep into the tissue beneath your skin with either electrical currents or thermal energy, respectively. That’s totally fine for your underarms or your hands and feet because there’s not much else other than sweat glands under those areas. “There are too many other structures in other areas that could be damaged by MiraDry,” Dr Adigun notes. No one wants that.
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There are a few other temporary fixes you could try, though, especially if your groin sweat isn’t that annoying to you. If you don’t have hyperhidrosis but are still a little irked by your crotch sweat, you could try to soak up the sweat with a talc-free baby powder product like Lush’s Silky Underwear (applied on the skin of the vulva, not the vaginal opening). This option won’t stop your sweat, Dr Adigun reminds; it’ll just absorb the moisture. But it absolutely can help if, on a hot day, you worry that your undercarriage will be damper than usual.
This story was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
Image credit: iStock