If you are a person with a vagina, of course you want to keep it fresh and healthy (albeit still smelling like a vagina). Whether you are prone to infections or don’t always feel your best down there (it happens!), there is something you can do (or not do) every day that can help with your vaginal health: Go commando.
Board Certified OBGYN Dr. Tristan Bickman, who has specialized in gynecological care for almost two decades, told us there is no need to wear underwear all the time. Why? “Yeast infections like warm, moist environments,” she says.
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If you aren’t comfortable going undie-free during the day, the best time to go bare is at night while you sleep, since it will allow your vaginal tissue and vulva to breathe better, according to Bickman.
Most people feel safer going without underwear when they aren’t walking around in pants or a skirt in public places. That’s why the nighttime — when you are in the privacy of your own home and don’t feel the need to have a barrier between you and your pajamas — is the most opportune time for most of us to do and wear the least. Going commando under the covers doesn’t feel as risky — and you get plenty of hours to let your vagina air out as you sleep.
Sleeping sans underwear can also reduce your risk of trauma to the vulva and vagina, which is an incredibly fragile area. “Wearing underwear can be tight and constrictive and the trauma can lead to increased infections,” Bickman says.
Let’s face it — those super cute underpants don’t always stay in place, either. They have a tendency to creep up, which can lead to uncomfortable rubbing and cause rashes and chafing.
Bickman recommends staying away from lace, polyester, or synthetic material when we are purchasing underwear, as these fabrics can make the tissue extra moist. “The increased moisture and can increase sweat production and cause odor,” she says.
Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, a Family and Emergency Physician, medical news correspondent and Medical Director at CityMD, tells us, “Everyone is different; everyone’s vagina is different. There are those that suffer from skin chafing, excessive sweating, have allergies to certain fabrics, or are more prone to infections than others,” adding going without underwear, especially under already hard to breathe clothing such as stockings, can help decrease moisture build up and discomfort.
Nesheiwat recommends cotton underwear, which can cover and protect the genital area from the chafing shorts, pants, or jeans can leave and reminds us to throw away old undies. “Even though they have been washed, they still contain bacteria, which can lead to infections such as BV.”
There’s a simple solution to keeping your vagina healthy — remember less underwear time can bring more health benefits and keep you comfortable.
A version of this story was published July 2019.
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