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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : I get a lot of moisture in the pubic/vaginal area. I’m not sure if it is sweat or vaginal discharge. What could cause this?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Joan Marie Bengtson, M.D., is assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproduction at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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November 22, 2013
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Excessive moisture in the vaginal area can have several causes. It could be sweat, vaginal discharge, or leaking of urine. Also, the vagina is always a bit moist from normal secretions.

The amount of moisture varies during the menstrual cycle. For example, at mid-cycle, the estrogen levels are high. So you make and release more normal vaginal secretions. This may seep from the vagina and be noticeable on the external tissues. This is called a physiologic discharge. 

You may get an abnormal vaginal discharge when you have a vaginal infection. Yeast, bacteria, and other organisms may grow excessively in the vagina. And that produces an infection. Each type of vaginal infection produces a characteristic discharge. Infectious discharge is often irritating to the tissues. Or it may itch, burn or have an odor. Your doctor can determine the type of infection, and prescribe the best antibiotic to treat it. 

If you are leaking urine, it’s often a more obvious cause of wetness. It may be associated with an urge to empty the bladder (overactive bladder). Or it could be a spurt caused by a cough or sneeze (stress urinary incontinence).   

If you are leaking small amounts of urine, it may be hard to tell from other causes of vaginal moisture. But special tests are available if you suspect this problem. There are effective treatments. But you must first work with your doctor to determine the type of leakage you have so you can get the right treatment.

 

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