Gynecologists finally answer the age old question: Do you have to wear underwear with leggings?


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Photo: Getty Images/ fizkes

I used to be firmly on team wear underwear with leggings. But slowly I began to transition into wearing leggings sans undergarments, not because of I noticed anything wrong, but because I got really tired of running out of underwear quickly. Like one pair of underwear to wear to the gym, and then having to wear a regular pair of underwear? All on the same day? I’m not great at math, but I can say with confidence that that practice made me go through my underwear twice as fast.

The dilemma of whether or not to wear underwear with leggings is an age-old one. A dilemma probably on par with that philosophical one involving whether or not to kill five people or one person on the train tracks (IDK guys, I studied English), or whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza.

“Wearing underwear with your active sportswear or clothes to work out in can be a confusing topic,” says Sheryl A. Ross, M.D., and OB/GYN in Santa Monica. “The days of baggy cotton sweats have been replaced with high tech swag to help your skin breath, absorb moisture, and prevent you from getting soaked in sweat.” So with all these advancements in workout gear, is it really necessary to wear underwear with your workout leggings?

“This is a controversial topic indeed, and women are super passionate towards whichever camp they favor,” adds Alyssa Dweck, M.S., M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Having brought up this topic with some of my friends at CrossFit, I will agree that yes, people are very passionate about it. “Some women find wearing underwear chafes, rubs, confines, and/or is visually unappealing with ‘pantylines’ under yoga pants,” Dweck says. On the flip side, she says that she’s overheard women in her office wear underwear with their leggings because it helps prevent visible camel toe.

Much like the pineapple/pizza problem, it all comes down to personal choice. Ross says that ultimately, it’s whatever you feel most comfortable in.

But if you do choose to go commando, make sure your leggings are up to the task. “Just remember yeast and bacteria thrive in a warm and moist environment,” Dr. Sherry says. “As long as your workout clothing has built in panties or liners with special antibacterial fabric that can absorb the extra sweat you should be fine leaving the undies at home.”

“Bottom line, yeast and bacteria like moist dark environments so cotton crotch either way is ideal,” says Dr. Dweck. (Yes, I just made you read the word “moist” again, with the addition of the word “crotch.” You are welcome.)

FWIW, I am team pineapple, team no underwear. These are both hills I am willing to die on.

Okay, more undie questions, answered: where do gynos stand on wearing underwear with bodysuits? And when is it time to toss your underwear for good?

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