During social distancing, a lot of our normal day-to-day practices have gone straight out the window. Normal meal times, for one; confining your boobs to a bra, for another. And one more I’d personally like to add to the list? Wearing underwear.
If you’ve ditched your usual undergarments in favor of leggings life, well, same. But the good news, according to the pros, is that that’s A-OK… as long as you’re wearing the right fabrics. “There is no issue with not wearing underwear,” says OB/GYN Jessica Shepherd, MD. “The unrestricted vagina doesn’t have any underwear or panty lines or fabric to add discomfort to this sensitive area,” adds OB/GYN Sherry A. Ross, MD, author of She-ology. “In addition to comfort there is no buildup of heat and moisture which can increase the risk of a vaginal infection.” And if you’re prone to yeast infections, not wearing underwear for long periods of time can actually work in your favor, because “underwear can trap excess moisture and microbes,” says Nini Mai, DACM.
But this is only the case when the pants you’ve got on are breathable, cautions Dr. Mai, and aren’t coming into close contact with your skin. So, if you’re wearing clean, loose pajamas made of natural fabric like cotton or linen, you’re in the clear. But problems start to arise when you’re going au natural with rough fabrics, like denim or wool, and synthetic leggings. “This can cause problems such as chafing or skin irritation,” says Dr. Mai. Because a lot of these materials are synthetically dyed and chemically treated, you can benefit from putting a barrier between them and your nether regions—aka underwear. Plus, says Dr. Shepherd, “underwear also helps to absorb moisture, keeping you comfortable and dry.”
The one thing you want to keep in mind, if you’re going underwear-free, though, is that you should probably be pairing the practice with regular showers. “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 Dr. Shepherd.
The verdict? Pop on some cotton sweatpants and let those bits breathe.
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