Everyone sweats; it’s the natural and healthy way your body cools down. But some types of sweat pose more of a problem than others—like vagina sweat, or perspiration from the glands of your vulva and groin area.
Vagina sweat kicks in after a tough workout, on a humid day, or while sitting for long periods in a warm seat at work. It can be embarrassing (sweat spots on the crotch of your yoga pants, ugh) and set you up for itching and infections, explains Westchester, New York–based gynecologist Alyssa Dweck, MD, coauthor of The Complete A to Z for Your V.
You can’t control how much sweat your body produces—genetics play a role, and the hormonal changes that happen during perimenopause and menopause can also ramp up the dampness. But there are ways to deal so you don’t have to continue the day feeling like a swampy mess. Here are four moves that help.
Wear cotton underwear
Sure you’ve heard it before, but putting on underwear in the morning made with a comfy natural fabric like cotton really can keep your vaginal area drier as you go about your day. “Cotton is more of a wicking material that keeps moisture away from your skin,” says Leah Millheiser, MD, clinical assistant professor of ob-gyn and director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University.
Without a breathable layer of cotton there to wick away sweat, you’re inviting perspiration-loving bacteria to set up shop, upsetting your natural balance of bacteria and upping your risk of a yeast infection. “Carry around two extra pairs of underwear in your bag, and change mid-day,” says Dr. Millheiser. “You’ll feel cleaner, more comfortable, and more confident,” she says. And since sweat gets stinky, it’ll help control and prevent odor too.
Reconsider your pubic hair
Whether your pubic hair is au natural or Brazilian-style bare won’t change the amount of crotch sweat you produce. But it can alter your perception of it, says Dr. Dweck, making you feel more comfortable and cleaner.
“It’s very individual,” she says. “If you’re bare down there, you might notice more or less depending on your sensations. If you have hair, you might notice a lot of perspiration too. However you groom down there now (or don’t groom), it might be worth experimenting with trimming or going wild, to see which one leaves you feeling less swampy.
Stash corn starch in your purse
Both Dr. Millhauser and Dr. Dweck stress that women should not use talcum powder to soak up vagina sweat. “Talc has a potential link to ovarian cancer. It’s not 100 percent, but there’s enough of a concern that you shouldn’t take a chance,” says Dr. Dweck. The American Cancer Society points out that studies have been mixed, and more research is needed.
But corn starch is safe, and you can sprinkle it on your underwear proactively or all over your crotch if your sweat glands have already kicked in and feel instant relief, on your skin to stay perspiration-free, advises Dr. Dweck.
Get out of sweaty workout gear ASAP
Crotch sweat and workouts go hand-and-hand. But changing out of your damp track shorts and yoga pants and rinsing off after a workout will get rid of sweat fast, before bacteria growth can raise your yeast infection odds. No time to shower? Blotting your sweaty groin with paper towels or wipes and putting on loose-fitting clothes that don’t rub up against your vagina and trap moisture.