Anyone with a vagina knows it makes a lot of liquid. This discharge keeps it from drying out and regulates vaginal pH to prevent infections. But what about outside of the vagina? Just like the hair follicle-filled armpit and scalp, the vulva has sweat glands that secrete moisture to help keep your skin cool.
While wet underwear can be annoying, a little genital sweat on a hot day or during an intense home workout session is totally normal. However, if you’re sweating too much around your vagina, it can be uncomfortable. The excessive moisture can also lead to itching and bacterial or yeast infections, preventing you from maintaining a healthy vaginal environment.
Here, we explore all the different reasons you sweat down there and what you can do to stay dry.
Causes of Vaginal Sweat
First things first. Vaginal sweat? Totally normal. It happens to everyone, especially during the summer. This is because the area around your vagina, especially the labia majora, contains lots of apocrine sweat glands (the glands found in the groin and armpit area). The fact that the groin area is usually hairy and warmer only makes it more conducive to sweating.
While some people sweat more than others, if you’re soaking through your underwear, there might be some reasons for it.
Physical Activity and Exercise
Any type of physical activity raises your body temperature and also kick starts your sweat glands to produce sweat to cool you down. This means all the parts of your body that have sweat glands–including the vagina–will sweat during exercise.
Moreover, workouts that focus on the lower parts of the body, such as cycling or rowing, cause more blood to flow to those parts, which is another reason for vaginal sweat.
People with vaginas experience hormonal fluctuations at different points in their life, especially during puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause. The changes in hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, mess with your body’s ability to regulate your temperature. As a result, you might feel hotter and sweat more, including in the areas around your vagina.
Hot Weather and Clothing Choices
Sweat is your body’s way of cooling you down, so it’s no wonder that you’ll sweat more around your vagina in hot weather. You can’t control this. However, you can reduce your vaginal sweat to some extent by making better clothing choices.
Clothes that fit tightly around your crotch area can cause friction, which causes heat. And when this heat has nowhere to escape? It gets trapped under there and causes sweating.
Similarly, wearing non-breathable underwear traps heat down there. Many synthetic fabrics don’t let your sweat evaporate, which means you’ll be left feeling wet and gross. (More on this below.)
The apocrine sweat glands found around the vagina secrete fluid into the hair follicles. Having a lot of pubic hair can, therefore, trap the heat around your vagina and cause the apocrine glands to produce more sweat.
Pubic hair also has the tendency to trap bacteria. And while good bacteria around your vagina are necessary to keep it healthy, it can also cause a bad odor when mixed with your sweat. But this doesn’t mean you have to completely shave or wax your pubic hair if you don’t want to. Some good trimming will do the trick!
Certain Medical Conditions
Solutions for Managing Vaginal Sweat
Whether your vaginal sweat is caused by physical exertion, hot weather, medication, or hormonal changes, here are some tips on how you can keep your nether regions dry and maintain your vaginal hygiene.
Pick the Right Underwear and Panty Liners
Cotton makes for the best breathable underwear and is the most vagina friendly. Synthetic, silk, or elastic material can prevent airflow, which can increase sweating. If you're prone to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, definitely opt for 100 percent cotton.
But if you're doing a lot of cardio, choose underwear made with moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester or nylon. Technical fabrics are made to pull wetness away from your body. Just make sure you get out of your wet clothes as soon as you're done with your workout. Since some workout materials hold moisture, it can promote the growth of bacteria and trigger an infection.
Additionally, many pads and panty liners are made using synthetic and non-breathable materials that trap heat around your vagina, causing excessive sweating and discomfort. To prevent this, opt for unscented pads and panty liners made using organic materials, and change them every 4-5 hours to reduce sweat and odor buildup.
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Use Water-Based Cleansing Wipes
If you are going to use a wash down there, it is important that the wash is pH balanced, leading women's health specialist, Dr. Navya Mysore, says. "When the pH of the cleanser matches your vaginal/vulvar pH you are allowing the good vaginal/vulvar bacteria to thrive and this helps prevent infections from forming." If you want a vagina-friendly way to get rid of sweat and odors, opt for cleansing wipes or wash your vagina with perfume-free soap and consider blow drying your crotch, writes Dr. Lissa Rankin in "What's Up Down There?" If you do use cleansing wipes, be sure they're unscented, meaning stripped free of irritating and unnecessary additives. Such ingredients can throw off your vaginal pH and lead to infections. Additionally, be wary of bubble baths, as the chemicals and artificial fragrances can be bad for your vagina.
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Trim or Shave Pubic Hair
If you have a lot of pubic hair, it can make you sweat more and the hair traps moisture, which can lead to some unpleasant smells. While everyone's grooming habits are a personal choice, trimming or getting rid of pubic hair automatically cuts down on the hair that's holding the sweat.
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When to See a Doctor
While clothing and lifestyle changes should help keep you comfortable, prescription medications are available if your sweating is severe. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of solutions to stay dry. And if your perspiring is persistent and bothersome, don't be embarrassed.
Certain conditions like diabetes, menopause, or anxiety disorders can also trigger perspiration. If you're on a new medication and you notice more sweat, your prescription may also be to blame. Certain medications, such as beta blockers or antidepressants, can also induce excessive sweating, so it’s best to visit a physician and get to the root of the problem.
Just check with your general practitioner or dermatologist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Itching around your vulva that doesn’t go away even after several days
- A funky, fishy smell around your vagina
- Burning sensation down there
- Pain during sex
- Thick, white discharge (can indicate a yeast infection)
- Having to pee very frequently
Gray discharge (can indicate bacterial vaginosis)
Take Charge of Your Vaginal Health with LOLA
While vaginal sweat is common, it’s not fun going around with a damp patch in your underwear. Luckily, you can effectively manage it by picking the right underwear, wearing loose-fitting pants, trimming your pubic hair, and using the right vaginal health products.
LOLA’s vaginal hygiene products are pH-balanced, made with natural ingredients, and hypoallergenic—perfect to refresh and soothe your sensitive nether regions.
Experience the comfort and confidence of LOLA’s products today. Shop now.