Icky parts



Dear Andrea:

I don't like the amount of vaginal discharge I produce. It isn't really abnormal, and it doesn't smell, but I just don't like seeing it in my underwear. I use the Nuvaring, which can change a woman's discharge, but I don't think that's it. Is there a way to limit this stuff? The vagina's a mucus membrane, and I've heard that dairy increases mucus; should I drink less milk?


Not a Drip

Dear Drippy:

Definitely, but only 'cause milk is gross. Personal taste aside, though, not only do I promise that milk is not mucus forming, I found a real, peer-reviewed journal article called "Milk Consumption Does Not Lead to Mucus Production or Occurrence of Asthma" to prove it to you. (I wasn't even thinking about asthma, but while we're at it, milk is apparently not asthma producing either. Good to know.)

There are many things one does do not wish to see in one's underwear, many of which do not bear mentioning and none of which can be willed away by the power of positive thinking. I suggest not looking.



Dear Andrea:

You mentioned guys who wear "manties" as opposed to something more manly like boxer shorts [5/9/07]. I'm well aware that women generally find boxer shorts sexier than manties or briefs. My problem is, I'm susceptible to jock itch, (tinea cruris), and find that boxers don't wick moisture away efficiently, which leaves me vulnerable. Therefore, I (gulp) usually wear briefs or manties (and yes, I use talc as well). What I wonder is, do women ever get jock itch? Even more to the point, could it be considered an STD? If a man has a moderate to severe case, it looks like you've got leprosy down there, and it seems like the interested party would want to know what the hell is going on. I've never heard a woman complain about jock itch or catching it from her partner.


Itchy Pants

Dear Pants:

Women certainly do get something similar — no doubt you've known at least one woman who not only feels comfortable discussing her yeast infections in public but also seems utterly uninterested in shutting up about them. One thing I can say for men — OK, I can say many things for men, but not now, I'm busy — is that they rarely bring up their crotch rot (actually ringworm, which is actually fungus) in mixed company. Yay, men.

Women can and do get all manner of "feminine" itchies but are generally less susceptible to jock itch and athlete's foot (just lucky, I guess). It can happen, though, and ringworm is transmissible skin to skin as well as by "fomite" (shared towels and the like). Isn't it funny, then, that it's never classified as an STD, STC, or STI? Just another handy illustration of how the entire concept of sexually transmitted disease is socially constructed and has little biological validity, I guess. But that is another lecture, as is the one where I implore you to tell your partners what's going on down there and not force them to politely pretend they didn't see anything.

What I really wanted to say here is that not even you, Itchy McCrotchrot, need wear "manties" in the sleezy-shiny-skimpy bikini banana-sling way that I define them. I'm not entirely sure you ought to be wearing tighty-whities either. They may be more comfortable by virtue of being more absorbent, but are you sure absorbency is really what you're looking for in an underpant? If I were you, I'd hike myself down to REI or some other place specializing in outfitting you for the sort of activities that require fancy moisture-wicking underwear and buy some.

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