There is a good chance you don’t put a lot of thought into your underwear when you get dressed every day. You are probably worrying more about the clothes that go on top of those underwear, right? Turns out, that might not be the best move — your lady bits deserve some consideration, and grabbing the wrong pair can have some seriously unpleasant side effects. Underwear is the last line of defense between your lady bits and the outside world, but the wrong pair can wreak havoc on your vaginal health. Here are a few bad habits that can cause problems.
1. Wearing sweaty undies
Women and men who tend to sweat should change their underwear regularly — twice a day, as opposed to once a day for people who typically stay dry. And anyone who works out should put on a clean pair of undies as soon as they’re able. A warm, moist environment is the perfect place for yeast to grow. It is recommended that sweat-prone people invest in underwear made of moisture-wicking material and avoid cotton underwear, which tends to stay wet once it gets wet.
2. Choosing Fancy Fabrics
When it comes to material, experts agree that your personal preference can dictate the fabric—as long as you make sure the crotch is lined with cotton. But if you’re looking for optimal underwear conditions, steer clear of synthetic materials, and only wear silk on special occasions. Silk and synthetic fabrics are not breathable, which increases the risk of moisture being trapped and retained, which can create a yeast or bacterial infection. If you have a few cute-but-impractical pairs you simply can’t part with, just save them for special occasions.
3. Getting Lax About Laundry
Some are guilty of occasionally taking a pair off the top of the laundry pile and giving them a repeat performance. But unless they are seriously spotless, you are better off with a fresh pair. Please wear your undies only once before washing them — especially thong underwear. Just like sweaty underwear, a dirty pair can breed bacteria and put you at risk for infections. No clean undies in the drawer? It is okay to go commando if you’re comfortable with it.
4. Wearing Thongs
If you are a sucker for thongs, be aware they can transfer E. Coli bacteria from your anus to your vagina. Think about where the string slides when you sit down in a thong (Ewwww!). Irritation from the thin material can also lead to skin tags on the vulva and rectum. If you can’t deal with panty lines, or you just find thongs more comfy, it is okay to keep them in rotation — but find a cotton pair that fits well, change them daily, and don’t sleep in them. If you are especially prone to yeast infections or other vaginal infections, consider switching to briefs or boy shorts.
5. Using too-tight underwear
Underwear that causes a muffin top or camel toe is probably too tight — and that can lead to health issues. Not only is too-tight underwear generally unflattering, but it can also promote chaffing of the skin and vaginal irritation, especially if you’re post-menopausal. Underwear sizes vary from brand to brand, so buy based on fit and comfort, not what the label says.
6. Underwear at night
Most experts are proponents of sleeping completely in the nude — as long as you are comfortable in your birthday suit. Trapped moisture can lead to increased bacteria and even yeast infections, and wearing underwear 24/7 can increase that risk. For women who are going through menopause, going underwear-less may make even more sense. The more you wear, the more you have to take off when you get night sweats. No one wants to linger in cold, wet panties once a hot flash passes.
7. Going without panties during the day
Unlike at night, daytime is usually filled with lots of movement and activities. Going without underwear during the day is a no-no. No underwear causes a whole host of problems, particularly because clothing doesn’t tend to have a liner. For one, if you’re wearing pants, the seam sits right in the vulval area and will constantly be rubbing the area, which can irritate sensitive tissue. Secondly, the natural moisture produced by the vagina has nowhere to go when you are not wearing underwear. If you are wearing dresses or skirts, there is nothing there to absorb vaginal moisture. Then you can become hot and sweaty down there, which, in itself, can irritate the skin. Clothing that causes friction, like jeans, can actually lead to chaffing and sores — which can eventually become infected.
8. Using Scented Detergent
If you’ve had a few infections or rashes recently, check the label on your laundry detergent. No one expects your undies to smell like a bouquet, so skip any products that irritate the super-sensitive skin down there.
9. Wearing shape-wears too often
Shape-wear works by compressing your body, but all that squeezing can actually cause a whole host of issues, like acid reflux and incontinence. If worn too often they can even cause your organs to shift — yikes! If you don’t have any underlying health issues, it’s fine to wear shape-wear from time to time, but overdoing it can cause major issues.
10. Not buying new ones
We buy new sweaters and shoes at the slightest hint of changing seasons, but most of us are guilty of wearing the same panties until they are literally falling apart. Not only do those old undies not look great, they can actually cause problems. Once the elastic is failed and they’re not staying in place and causing extra rubbing and shifting around, it is time to throw them out and get some new ones.
When it comes down to it, it is important to choose an underwear that feels as good as it looks. While some of this information might be a bummer to your underwear collection, you will find there are still plenty of choices out there that look great, feel great, and aren’t bad for your health.
Comfortable can be stylish too!