Underwear: Does the type of fabric matter? Find Out!


The type of underwear fabric can make the difference between your genital area feeling hot and sweaty or cool and dry. Plus, it may play at least a small role in certain vaginal infections, some research suggests.


According to an older epidemiological survey in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gyne­cology and Reproductive Biology, one of the factors associated with vaginal yeast infections is wearing underwear made from synthetic fabrics (such as nylon and lycra), which don’t “breathe” and thus keep the genital area warm and moist, per­fect conditions for the growth of yeast. Though not all the literature supports this connection, many clinicians advise that women prone to yeast infections wear “breathable” panties, such as those made from “wickable” fabrics, which can be pur­chased online or in some sporting-goods stores.

SEE: 3 Ways You Can Get Vaginal Infection without Having Sex

Along similar lines, women with recurrent infections are often advised to not wear tight pants, body-shaper undergar­ments, or pantyhose. Keep in mind, how­ever, that other factors play a more significant role in the development of vaginal yeast infections than your under­wear, including whether you take antibiot­ics or oral contraceptives, are pregnant, or have poorly controlled diabetes.

Do you need to wear underwear at all?

While most of us don’t think about going out undie-less, some people like the airy feel, especially on hot and humid days. It’s also more comfortable to forgo underwear if you cycle or otherwise work out in seamless-crotch cycling shorts that are breathable and wickable (underwear under them can bunch up and irritate the skin).

Also, many people like to sleep without under­wear. Some papers give a general recommendation for women with vaginal infections to go bare at night, though an older (1992) review paper in Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey noted that this did not make a difference in terms of symptoms.

The bottom line: If going commando is comfortable, go for it.
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