Bras and Undies

You’re Probably Not Changing Your Underwear Often Enough, According to an OB/GYN

Mary Grace Garis

Photo: Stocksy/Marissa Alper

Pantsless is the new black. Indeed, laziness rules our modern lives, and rewearing your underthings is commonplace. But I do have to wonder how often is often enough when it comes to changing your underwear. (I’m assuming “not at all” is the wrong answer.)

Incidentally, Underclub, the luxury underwear subscription company, teamed up with Taraneh Nazem, MD, reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist and board certified OB/GYN, to find out exactly how often you need a refresh. Up to twice daily is ideal if you live an active life, and once is a must to simply decrease the risk of infection, particularly yeast infections.

“Less frequent changes can lead to build up of moisture that predisposes women to developing yeast and skin irritation,” says Dr. Nazem. “Undergarment changes are preferable to wearing a liner or pad as these can cause additional irritation and chafing. Less frequent underwear changes can result in accumulation of bacteria and unpleasant vaginal side effects, like bacterial vaginosis.”

Certain circumstances necessitate switching up the cadence as well as the style of undergarment. Just like you wouldn’t wear a ballgown to do yoga or leggings to your wedding (or maybe you would), you want to change your undergarments for different activities throughout the day.

“It’s recommended to wear a fresh set of underwear before going to bed or after a shower rather than the same pair you have been wearing all day,” says Dr. Nazem. “For workouts, you may consider wearing underwear that’s well-fitted and absorbs moisture. And just like you might change out of your sweaty gym clothes after a good workout, your underwear should be changed too.”

Bacteria can accumulate in underwear over time, even after it’s washed properly, so depending on the extent of soiling it could be worthwhile to replace underwear with a new set completely.

“In general, despite adequate and frequent washing of your garments, you should refresh your collection approximately every six months to avoid excessive bacteria build up,” says Dr. Nazem. “In some cases, depending on the level of soiling, you may consider upgrading to new lingerie as soon as three months.”

Gotcha, gotcha. But rogue thought: What if you simply just don’t wear underwear? Well, we salute those going commando; while chafing might be an issue, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that lifestyle choice. The main thing there is that you’re consistent when it comes to bathing. “Showering can remove bacteria and debris, and if you’re not showering every day this can lead to excess bacteria leading to vaginal irritation and infections such as bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections,” says OB/GYN Jessica Shepherd, MD.

You may want to consider having a few spare pairs of underwear for special occasions: long intense work-outs, tight-fitting outfits that squish your bits, or outings with communal seating. “But skip the nighttime pair and go commando overnight,” says Dr. Nazem.

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