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.



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