We’re waist deep in summer swamp season AKA perpetual moistness AKA nonconsensual pool party inside your shorts. If you’re already experiencing menopause or perimenopause, extra sweat down there can feel like the very wet cherry on top of hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. But if you think you and your excessive crotch sweat are alone on an island, let me assure you that you have company. There are entire communities on the internet searching for the secret to drier undies in the summertime, so we’re swooping in with some wisdom and answers from Lindsey, our pelvic health expert.
Why am I so damp down there?
The explanation is a mix of logistics and biology. Wearing too many layers, or fabrics that don’t breathe very well, can amplify sweat in a part of your body that (I mean this in the best way possible) is like the distant cousin of your armpit. Think about it: lots of hair follicles and sweat glands concentrated in a warm, bacteria-filled area. Like your pits, it’s bound to get a little swampy down there from time to time.
The first line of defense in drying up your underwear is identifying whether that drip or flood you’re feeling is actually excessive sweat, or if it’s one of two other contenders:
- Discharge. A term that covers a range of wet, goopy stuff, Lindsey says discharge is usually nothing to worry about unless you also notice an odor or start to feel itchy. If that’s the case, call your gyno and get to the source. Bacteria and moisture have a romance for the ages, so summer isn’t the time to hope your body will naturally fight off that yeast infection.
- Pee. If you realize you’re leaking, start reading up on the *fun*damentals of pelvic floor health and consider finding yourself a pelvic floor therapist. In the meantime, it’s also important to find ways to stay dry. Yes, pee is sterile, but it doesn’t necessarily stay that way once it exits your body. Like any other liquid, it can act as a transportation system for all kinds of bacteria, leading to UTIs, yeast infections, or bacterial vaginosis.
Not sure if your drips are sweat-related or coming from *inside the house*? There is one tried and true elimination tactic:
The Sniff Test👃
Lindsey says that most women who experience leaks come to her because they’ve noticed a different smell down there. The sniff test should tell you pretty quickly whether the moisture you’re feeling is actually a bladder leak. It’s worth noting that our undies are odor-proof so pretty much useless when it comes to the smell test. (I now take the rare opportunity to say: I’m sorry and you’re welcome!) If you’re blessed with odorless urine, try the sniff test on a day when you haven’t had a chance to hydrate (concentrated pee smells more strongly of ammonia). You can also eat extra asparagus to punch up your smell, or pop a B vitamin to add some strong yellow highlights. Some people even take a medication that changes the color of their pee to find the source of the leak, but I vote for the holistic asparagus and vitamin routes first.
What can I do to stay dry?
No matter the source of your moisture, there are tactics that work wonders on wet undies:
- Embrace your bush. Adding to our collection of hot takes on pubes: they’re here for a reason! Your puffy pubic hair creates a barrier – or, more accurately, a breathing space – between your vulva and your underwear. It’s a built-in ventilation system to keep swampy stuff (and everything swimming in it) at bay. That said, on really sweaty or leaky days where you’ve reached peak saturation, a full bush can actually contribute to holding moisture in and make it take longer to dry out – in which case trimming can help you reach a happy medium. In general, though, pubes are good to keep around as your body’s natural system for wicking away excess moisture.
- Wear breathable fabric. Cotton undies are a given for combatting crotch sweat, but don’t underestimate the power of full-force cotton or linen outfits. If breathable fabrics aren’t an everyday option, try stocking your closet with skirts, dresses, and loose-fitting boyfriend shorts for sweaty summer days.
- Try talcum powder. Powder is an option, but Lindsey says it shouldn’t be your everyday solution. Talcum is for the 110 degree, 90% humidity days when you’re going directly from an 8am workout class into a meeting where you must, non-negotiably, wear your favorite leather pants. Why the restricted use? Studies increasingly suggest a link between ovarian cancer and talcum powders that contain asbestos. If you do opt for talcum, pick a cornstarch-based powder. They’re much safer and just as effective at keeping you fresh and dry.
- Prepare with back-up underwear. Lindsey says it’s a good idea to have a spare pair on hand for the days you know you’re going to be *extra wet.* Norma P., who has urge incontinence and leaks a few times a month, found that Icons are perfect for sweaty days: “In really humid weather they stop sweat down the inner thigh, reducing heat rash.” If you wear moisture-wicking undies you might be able to get away with just one pair a day, but it doesn’t hurt to have spares.
Crotch sweat is definitely as unpleasant as it sounds, but a load of tips and treatment options means you can pick the approach that feels best (read: driest) for you.
-How are you staying dry in these sweaty times?-