How Your Underwear Affects Your Vaginal Health

Whether you stick to cotton briefs, or you're one of those brave souls who habitually rocks thongs, you should know that your underwear can seriously affect vaginal health and the overall comfort of your lady bits.

Especially if the winter, when we wear so many layers of clothes made of different materials. Of course, we all have our own tried-and-true underwear preferences that work for us — and since no two vaginas are the same, it's possible that although lace irritates the crap out of my downstairs, it may be perfectly OK for you to rock lace panties on the regular.

Additionally, even the "right" underwear can cause some serious health problems if they're too tight or too wet. Although vaginas are super strong, they're also incredibly prone to irritation and infection, particularly when it‘s cold out there.

Read on to learn about the ways your undies affect your vaginal health.

Tight underwear and infections

As we are sure you know, the skin around your vaginal area is thinner (and thus more sensitive) than the rest of your skin. Because of this, it's very important to wear underwear that fits you right. Super-tight underwear causes an uncomfortable amount of friction that will lead to mild irritation at best and ingrown hairs at worst.

On top of that, doctors say that tight underwear can contribute to the development of yeast infections because it allows for heat and moisture to build up in your vaginal area. As you probably know, heat and moisture create the ideal setting for bacteria to grow down there.

Not only is too-tight underwear generally unflattering (hello, visible bulges and puckering), but it can also promote chafing of the skin and vaginal irritation, especially if you’re post-menopausal. For women who are menopausal, their vaginal walls tend to be thin, as gynecologists have observed.

From that perspective, any underwear that’s tight enough to rub your skin can result in irritation. If your skin doesn’t get irritated, then great — tight underwear won’t hurt you. But if you have noticed you get irritated because of friction, then it’s not recommended.

We‘re not saying you shouldn't ever wear a thong again, but if you do decide to keep thongs in your underwear drawer, there are a few things you should know about how they can mess with your health.

Since thongs literally go inside of your butt crack, and they tend to slide around a lot, they can transfer E. coli bacteria from your anus to your vagina. Additionally, if you're already prone to yeast infections, UTIs, and vaginal irritation, the wrong thong will only exacerbate your issues.

So, if you want to continue wearing thongs and other types of tight underwear, at least try to find a well-fitting one that won't slide all over the place and isn't too, too tight in the inseam. For the same reasons, you should also avoid itchy fabrics like lace.

Fabrics like lace, lycra, or nylon can irritate your lady parts, especially if you wear them on a regular basis. We‘re not even saying they can feel extremely uncomfortable if worn under layers of other clothes you have to pack yourself into when it‘s cold outside.

Don‘t wear it damp

No matter what shape or material you're wearing, it's never a good idea to sit around in damp underwear.

The choice of underwear is far less important versus what you do if you are soaking wet post-workout, experts report. If your underwear is soaking wet, it could lead to chafing and that is frequently misdiagnosed as yeast.

You've probably already heard that sitting around in a wet swimsuit is bad for your vaginal health, but the same goes for wet, sweaty underwear.

If you're prone to sweating a lot, you should know that changing your underwear once a day probably isn't going to be enough to protect your vagina from developing a yeast infection — you might want to actually keep a spare pair on hand.

Also, on the days you hit the gym or go for a long walk in the park, change your undies as soon as possible after you've finished exercising — because all that wetness is like a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.

If you're wet and cannot shower and change clothes immediately, consider at least toweling off and changing your underwear. Same goes if your underwear has become really wet or sweaty for any other reason (yes, sometimes it happens so that bad weather is one of them). If they're not soaking wet and you don't have a skin irritation issue, then you are probably fine.

Under the blanket

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not going underwear-free to bed is better for you.

For those who have a healthy vagina, either choice is fine. For those who deal with regular yeast infections, going pantie-free to bed – especially covered with layers of blankets and sheets to save you from cold in winter – can make all the difference.

Basically, it doesn’t hurt to go without underwear overnight. Going without a cloth barrier allows the area to breathe overnight and keeps moisture from building up or creating an environment for bacteria to build.

Most women health experts are proponents of sleeping in completely the nude — as long as you’re comfortable in your birthday suit. Though it is a matter of personal preference, from the perspective of breathing and airing things out, you should sleep without underwear, experts recommend.

Moreover, doctors report that 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.

If you really don’t like the feeling of being naked, doctors recommend wearing loose-fitting pajama bottoms. Just remember, if you’re going without underwear but are wearing another type of bottom, they need to be washed frequently as well.

Keep it scent-free

All types of underwear should be handled more gently than the rest of your wardrobe, not just your special lacy, stringy thongs. This isn’t because they’re your “delicates.”

It’s mostly because they sit up against your more sensitive skin area for long periods of time.

Doctors recommend using gentle, hypoallergenic soap to wash them because anything soapy or chemical next to the vulva can lead to irritation, itching, and allergic reactions.

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