October 6, 2008

Q&A: Water in Vagina From Bathing or Swimming

A female reader has concerns about water getting into her vagina during baths or swimming and then leaking out later.

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Question: Sometimes when I take baths I have an issue with water getting into my vagina. I usually do not realize when this happens. It will go unnoticed for a while, even a couple of hours sometimes. When the water works its way out it is usually enough to soak through my panties. No one has been able to tell me why this happens and it is really embarrassing.

Many women have questions about what’s normal or not when it comes to their vagina, particularly because we’re not often taught that much about women’s genitals.

Many kids aren’t even taught the word “vagina” until they are significantly older, and instead are often used to hearing people refer to women’s genitals with vague names like “down there” or “down stairs”. This general avoidance of talking about vaginas is highlighted in Eve Ensler’s book and play “The Vagina Monologues“.

You’re Not Alone

You’re certainly not alone in your experience – other women sometimes notice that after taking a bath or going swimming that some time later, they may find that some water leaks out from their vagina and wets through their underwear or clothing.

Here’s what can happen: the vagina is a soft muscular tube that extends backward into the body at an angle. If you’ve ever inserted a finger inside your vagina to learn what it feels like, you may have noticed the soft, ridged folds of tissue that make up the vaginal walls.

The back of the vagina is wider than the front part, almost like a little pouch. This area can be difficult to feel with one’s own fingers even though it’s just several inches back inside the body.

When your pelvic area is under water – as in a bath tub, swimming pool, or lake – some water may make its way toward the back of your vagina. Even after you step out of your bath tub, water may still be inside given that your vagina rests at an angle, or that some water may have made its way back into the pouch.

Going To The Bathroom Can Help

Some women find that going to the bathroom shortly after coming out of a bath helps to let gravity do its job and get some of the water out. Other women even squat a little or insert a finger inside their vagina to encourage some of the water out. That said, there is no sure-fire way to get it to come out.

If this continues to be something that bothers you, and the water soaks through your underwear and onto your clothes, consider wearing darker clothes after a bath so that it’s unlikely to show through. Another option is to take baths at night before you go to sleep.

Learn More

To learn more about the vagina and vulva, check out The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health by Dr. Elizabeth Stewart. And if you have any questions or concerns about your body, do check in with your healthcare provider for person health information.