Sweating in the groin and pelvic area is normal, especially on hot days or after sweaty workouts. But it can be embarrassing and lead to odor.
Excessive groin sweat is also known as primary focal hyperhidrosis, which affects three percent of people. But thankfully, there are ways to help prevent it.
Change Your Clothes
Keeping your clothing fresh can prevent groin sweat. Especially if you sweat a lot after a workout, on a hot day, or while sitting for long periods of time at work.
If you wear a lot of cotton, it will let your skin breathe and keep your groin area dry. Synthetic fabrics like polyester, however, don’t allow your vulva to breath. This is another reason why people with sweaty crotches tend to wear more synthetic underwear.
You should shower daily, and use only mild, unscented soap on your vulva. Avoid scented pads or panty liners, too, because they can increase vaginal odor. Douching can also disturb the delicate balance of bacteria in your vulva and make you vulnerable to a yeast infection, which can cause itching, irritation, and inflammation, called vaginitis.
Sweating in your vulva is normal, but it can be embarrassing and lead to uncomfortable symptoms like vaginal odor. So it’s important to keep your clothes, underwear, and body clean, and speak with your doctor if you notice any changes in your normal vaginal odor.
Your vulva has a different kind of sweat gland than the rest of your body, called eccrine glands. These glands produce sweat that doesn’t smell as bad as the sweat produced in other parts of your body because eccrine glands don’t come into contact with bacteria as often. The sweat produced in your crotch, on the other hand, comes into contact with bacteria more frequently, which is why it can stink.
Wear the Right Underwear
Yeast infections and urinary tract infections can low-key derail your entire day. But while some people are predisposed to these infections, the underwear you wear can also play a role in how often your vulva sweats and smells. Specifically, tight clothes can raise the temperature around the groin, and synthetic or silk material can prevent air flow and can cause the vulva to sweat more.
That’s why it’s important to choose loose-fitting, comfortable cotton underwear that wicks away moisture to help keep the area cool and dry. It may not be fashionable, but the right underwear can make all the difference in preventing odor and infections from occurring.
And if you aren’t ready to shave down your pubic hair, don’t worry — it serves a purpose (reducing friction and allowing the body to wick away sweat). However, you may want to wax or shave your underarms to reduce sweating in that area. Pubic hair can also trap bacteria and smelly substances, so it’s a good idea to remove it regularly to avoid that overpowering, stinky odor.
Ultimately, the underwear you wear will only affect how much your vulva sweats and smells. But if you’re constantly battling this issue, it’s worth trying some of these simple hacks to see what can help. Especially as the summer heat rolls in, you don’t want to be dealing with pit stains and damp bras all day long!
Change Your Diet
Everyone knows that a sweaty armpit or forehead can smell like onion, but did you know that your crotch can stink just as bad? The groin area contains two different types of sweat glands: eccrine glands that produce watery sweat as your body tries to cool down, and apocrine glands that secrete an oily sweat that can odorize.
During intense exercise or hot days, groin sweat can cause unpleasant body odor, especially in women during menstruation. Over time, it can also create a moist environment that’s ideal for bacterial growth.
Excessive groin sweating can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but the good news is that you can take steps to reduce it. Start by practicing good personal hygiene. Bathe and shower regularly to keep your skin clean, and try using a powder that absorbs moisture. Look for baby powder that’s free of talc, which has been linked to ovarian cancer in women, and opt for one that is made from a starch such as corn starch or arrowroot.
For extra protection, try rubbing on a small amount of antiperspirant before bed. This will temporarily plug up your sweat glands to help prevent groin sweat. However, avoid using a strong topical treatment such as MiraDry or Iontophoresis, as they may damage the sensitive tissue in the vulva. If you’re still struggling, consider shaving or waxing your pubic hair. Though pubic hair exists for a reason—to reduce friction and wick away sweat from the skin—excessive hair can trap bacteria that create a foul odor.
See Your Doctor
If sweating around your groin is becoming a regular occurrence, it may be time to talk to your doctor. A 2016 case study followed a 17-year-old girl with hyperhidrosis of the vulva, and she was prescribed Drysol (a strong topical antiperspirant that contains aluminum chloride hexahydrate, which helps close sweat ducts). It drastically reduced her groin sweating, and she no longer soaked through her shorts or had to wear thick maxi pads during the day.
Though it’s often referred to as “genital sweat” or “crotch sweat,” perspiration around this area is actually pretty normal. It’s not your vagina that’s making the sweat — it’s the glands surrounding it. These glands are similar to the sweat glands in your armpits or scalp, and they secrete an odorless, colorless fluid that’s great for cooling the body down.
You’ll want to keep in mind, however, that these areas can be sensitive, so it’s best to use non-scented antiperspirant that won’t irritate the skin. Also, avoid using powders, especially ones containing talc. This can irritate the skin, and recent research has found it’s associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women.
You can also try shaving or waxing your pubic hair to reduce friction and wick away moisture. If you’re still prone to over-sweating, carry a pair of cotton or sweat-wicking underwear with you during the day and change it as needed.