Ditch your underwear—at least some of the time. Your vagina will thank you for it.
Have you ever not worn underwear so you wouldn't have unflattering panty lines? Turns out not only is going commando great for your personal style, it's a doctor-approved sexual health move, too.
"It’s not good to always have the lady parts locked up," Donnica Moore, MD, a Chester, New Jersey–based gynecologist and president of Sapphire Women's Health Group, tells Health. "They need air like all other parts of your body."
Covering up your pubic area with panties day and night makes it easier for heat and sweat to build up in your crotch, which boosts your risk of a yeast or other type of infection, she says. And that risk is even higher if your undies are lacy or made with non-breathable material, both of which irritate delicate vaginal skin and can cause rashes and allergic reactions.
Going commando does have one health downside to consider. "You run the risk of irritation and chafing when you wear garments not meant to come into contact with your vulva," explains Dr. Moore. Examples include the seam that runs along the crotch of your skinny jeans, those yoga pants that are so tight they sometimes leave you with camel toe, or tights made from itchy synthetic fabric. And it goes without saying that bottoms with zippers could lead to pubic hair or sensitive tissue gets caught in the zipper. Ouch.
Rubbing your labia and vulva against irritating fabrics "can lead to very small nicks in the skin that act as portals for bacteria," Dr. Moore says. So jeans and tight yoga pants, for example, should be paired with cotton underwear to minimize irritation, protect from zippers, and absorb sweat. The less sweat buildup you have, the lower your odds of infection.
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And while it's not a health risk (except to your mental health perhaps, since it's so embarrassing), going commando also can leave you accidentally flashing your bare crotch in public, if you're wearing a skirt or dress. As for bugs, dust, or dirt particles making their way into your crotch while you let it all hang out down below, don't be concerned. There's nothing you can pick up, Dr. Moore says, assuming you're covered at least by a miniskirt.
Bottom line: The health benefits of ditching your underwear outweigh the potential risks, which are easy to avoid. Get started tonight in the comfort of your own home after you've taken off your work outfit and put on a loose robe or nightgown. And if you don't already sleep sans panties every night, now's the time to begin, says Dr. Moore.