body image · fitness

A feminist guide to mid-life sweating

There are so many lovely things about being over 50.

But one very prominent non-lovely feature of mid-ish life is the panoply of peri menopause or menopause symptoms. They are legion.  They are annoying.  They resist virtually all attempts at intervention.  It’s  like having a fly buzzing around your bedroom when you’re trying to sleep.  You think– oh, I’ll try this.  I’m sure I can take care of this sucker.  And you end up breaking a lamp, pulling down a curtain rod, or risking limbs by tip toeing on a dining room chair.  All to absolutely no avail.

I find my peri menopausal symptoms like that.  Insomnia, itchy and sensitive skin, hot hands and feet, bloating, brain fog, fatigue– they all seem fixable.  But no.

And then there’s the sweating.  Epic all- season sweating.  Soaking wet hair, rivulets down the front and back sweating.  Sweating while doing low-exertion activities like strolling through a park and standing on a bus. I really hate the sweating.  It makes me feel unkempt, unclean, unattractive, unprofessional and at a loss.

This blog has talked about sweat in a variety of sports contexts.  I’ve got no problem with sweating a lot during activity, even though while on a cycling date a  guy said to me, “you’re really good at cooling yourself down”, trying to compliment me on my copious sweating abilities.  Thank you, I said.  And never heard from  him again.

It’s regular during-my-day sweating that’s getting me down.  In the past year,  I’ve noticed that moving around AT ALL in the morning and early afternoon results in soggy clothing and the appearance of a drowned rat.  What in the world is one to do about this predicament?

Tracy has blogged about HRT, which I’m now thinking I’ll investigate for myself.  But in the meantime, here are a few low- tech tips for everyday sweaters that don’t require a prescription.

1. Bring real handkerchiefs with you.

Kleenexes simply aren’t up to the task of the industrial sweater.  They fall apart, and worse, may cling to moist body parts to cause further consternation.  I invested recently in a few old-fashioned bandanas, which come in pretty colors.



2. Wear patterned tops.  They don’t show sweat stains much at all.  And they also expand one’s color repertoire, which is nice.



3. Find sweating buddies to hang out with, at least some of the time.

This weekend I’m in NYC for a 30th anniversary shindig.  Unexpectedly, my cousin Xina was  in town, so we’ve been tromping all over Manhattan in  88-degree heat ( hotter in the subway).  As a member of my family, Xina is a championship sweater.  So we commiserated and even went in together on a 3-pack of bandanas (she picked out a snappy camo model).  Xina also modeled a perfect combination resourcefulness and moxie; when we were  walking down 13th street, she started to complain about thigh chafing, whipped out some body glide,  said “cover me”, and proceeded to apply it right there and then. Xina, you are my sweat- treatment hero.

4. Have skimmies with you all the time.



Jockey makes skimmies, lightweight shorts to wear under skirts that eliminate the need for emergency on- the-street body glide application.  There are other brands too, so feel free to indulge in whatever styles suit your fancy.

5. Practice acceptance.

This one I’m not so good at, and I have no product recommendations.  I’m speaking out about menopause and its banquet of vexing symptoms– to coworkers, younger friends, to you, readers– in an attempt to help make this process feel more normal.  Because it is.  And we are.



12 thoughts on “A feminist guide to mid-life sweating

  1. I find some natural supplements have helped me: Meno-sense is the best I have tried so far. But yeah being drenched over nothing really sucks!

    1. Thanks for the tip. I’ve tried estroven, but it’s not clear if it’s doing anything. Will check it out.

      1. I had tried Evening Primrose supplements before and I am not sure they were doing much. This one seems more efficient.

  2. So far symptom free but also still menstruating so there’s that. I’m the woman menopause forgot.

    1. Congrats on being symptom-free still. I promise not to tell menopause where you are if it asks.

  3. Thanks for speaking out and sharing! It sucks, and not seeing anyone else go through it makes it feel even more isolating. (all all the tips from online/mags seem somewhat lame to me) Can’t wait to get through to the other side where at least maybe there won’t be random bleeding (tho on bcp) and other symptoms (instant mood swings, oh the bloat) – stability, even if not optimal conditions, is something I prize. Also peri/meno play havoc – IME – with other existing health conditions! (thyroid, cardiac….)

  4. Getting older is not always pretty, for sure. And, wow, the frustration that comes with the feeling of having tried everything to no avail. I do NOT enjoy many of the flat-out gross things that are happening to and within my glorious body, but it helps to joke, whine and commiserate with other women who live in fear of wetting their pants, sweaty hot flashes, passing gas and developing manly facial hair. Bleh.

  5. In all honesty, I was never keen to joke loudly with other women in the workplace about menopause with others around who clearly aren’t going to ever experience menopause or are too young. It would talking about some shared female thing which excludes others. It does. It does mark you in an age bracket which I’m not fond to proclaim because of ageism attitudes.

    Not that I’m suggesting women here do that. But guys at work can’t help. My partner is sympathetic but thank goodness I don’t sweat as heavily.

    My hot flashes seems to have returned with my disordered sleep.

    1. Hi Jean– yes, I agree with you about the loud joking; it’s not really my way either (although I completely understand it). I do express (sometimes loudly… 🙂 ) my dissatisfaction with the medical establishment for being largely silent on this, and dismissing symptoms as not very important, or offering only HRT as a potential solution.

      Sorry to hear about the hot flashes and disordered sleep. Hope they pass soon.

      1. I realize some women need to let off “verbal” steam :D. But it doesn’t work well among bunch of other people who don’t know you outside of work and don’t care to know anything further except for work.

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