Is wearing underwear healthier than going commando? Here’s what experts say.

A woman with her hands in the air holds up a pair of dark pink underpants.
Is wearing underwear preferable to going commando? Experts have some thoughts. (Photo: Getty Images)

Although we’ve been socialized to believe that we should wear underwear on a daily basis, have you ever taken a minute to think about whether it's essential and if it’s actually good for you?

At first glance, you might think wearing underwear is healthy, because nearly everyone does it (or at least says they do). However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question whether wearing underwear is healthier than going commando. There are pros and cons to each, though, that you’ll want to keep in mind.

Here’s what experts have to say about the benefits of wearing underwear — or skipping it entirely.

Is it good to wear underwear daily?

For starters, wearing underwear does serve an important purpose. “Underwear provides a protective layer between the skin and the outside environment, which can potentially reduce irritation and rubbing,” Dr. Kimberley Thornton, an ob-gyn and reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at RMA of New York, tells Yahoo Life.

Apart from serving as a physical barrier to protect delicate skin from irritation, wearing underwear also has practical benefits, such as maintaining the integrity of clothing during wear. “Underwear can prevent vaginal discharge, which is normal and healthy, from getting on your clothing,” Dr. Jennifer Makarov, an ob-gyn and reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at New Hope Fertility, tells Yahoo Life.

Thornton adds that if underwear is changed daily, it can potentially reduce exposure of the vaginal area to bacteria from clothing that may not be washed as frequently, like jeans. As for the style of underwear, it doesn’t really matter which kind you choose. (Turns out, research shows the much-maligned thong doesn’t carry a higher risk of urinary tract infections and yeast infections.)

“It has been shown that the style of underwear, such as thong vs. brief, does not make any positive or negative differences from a health perspective,” says Thornton.

That said, in order to reap the benefits, Dr. Beri Ridgeway, an ob-gyn and co-founder of Ina Labs, recommends wearing underwear that is breathable and made of natural materials, such as 100% cotton, especially in the crotch area, to allow for airflow and moisture absorption, along with optimal comfort. Also, avoid tight-fitting underwear, which can cause chafing.

Is it OK to go commando?

The decision to go commando is a personal choice. However, Makarov even goes as far to say that, in some cases, it may be healthier than wearing underwear.

“When the underwear fabric you’re wearing is nonbreathable, like a synthetic fabric, underwear can trap moisture in the vaginal area,” she says. “And for some women, this increased moisture can lead to yeast infections.” In this instance, you’re better off going commando than wearing synthetic underwear.

Makarov adds that it’s actually healthy to let the vulva breathe a bit every once in a while — and she says it won’t lead to infection and can actually even prevent the overgrowth of unhealthy flora.

As for going commando, some may find it easier to do this at night. “Limited activity helps decrease the likelihood of exposure to the things that can irritate your genitals, such as perspiration or chafing from movement,” Dr. Stephanie Hack, ob-gyn and founder of the Lady Parts Doctor podcast, tells Yahoo Life.

Final verdict: The decision is yours

Both going commando and wearing underwear have their pros and cons, and one isn’t necessarily significantly healthier than the other. The decision is, ultimately, a personal choice, and both can be beneficial if done correctly.

When it comes to going commando, you’ll want to make sure you're comfortable going out in public without underwear (unless you choose to skip underwear at night). For some people, it may feel as if you’re putting everything out there on display, even while wearing clothes. But if you feel comfortable going commando, experts say it’s acceptable to go for it. If you prefer to wear underwear, though, just make sure it's breathable, made from natural materials such as cotton, and not too tight.

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