4 Underwear Rules to Live by for a Healthy Vagina

Do you ever think to yourself, “Am I doing this underwear thing wrong?” It may be an integral part of our routine, but it’s not something the average person knows much about.

Like, did you know that there are certain fabrics that are healthier for you or certain times that going commando is better or that there’s sort of an expiration date for underwear?

These unspoken underwear rules can have an impact on your vaginal health — and, depending on the style, can even affect your mood!

So we did a lot of research, dug through several underwear hygiene studies, and talked to an OB-GYN to collect eight underwear rules to live by.

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1. Overall, choose natural fabrics — specifically cotton

You may have heard this before, but with all the cute styles in a variety of fabrics out there, it’s worth saying again: cotton is the best underwear fabric.

“The vulva is a very sensitive and delicate area, similar to the lips on your face. You want to treat [it] gently,” explains Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones, board-certified OB-GYN.

And the most simple, gentle fabric to touch your skin? Yep, cotton. It’s also breathable and absorbent, which can help prevent yeast infections.

“Since it is healthy to have a vaginal discharge — similar to the moisture you always have in your mouth — you want your underwear to gently absorb any extra moisture,” explains Kelly-Jones.

Synthetic materials like nylon and spandex don’t allow the area to breathe. Instead, they trap heat and moisture, creating a perfect breeding ground for yeast infections.

2. Aim to change your underwear every day, even more than once if you want!

It seems like we typically wear one pair of underwear a day and then put it in the laundry to be washed. That may not always be necessary. On the other end of the spectrum, you shouldn’t feel restricted to just one pair per day.

Some doctors say that you can get away with wearing a pair of underwear two days in a row if there’s not much discharge or sweat. But if you start to feel uncomfortable because of vaginal discharge buildup, you can change them more than once a day, as Kelly-Jones reminds her patients all the time.

“Many of my patients are bothered by this moisture and wear pantie liners all of the time,” she says. “I think this is not the healthiest of behavior as liners can cause chafing and irritation. Cotton-lined underwear will solve this problem, and it’s OK to change more than once a day.”

After they’ve been worn, toss them in the hamper to wash. Unlike jeans, underwear shouldn’t be reworn just to save on doing a load.

3. Go commando at night to air out the moisture

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not going underwear-free to bed is better for you.

For those who have a healthy vagina, either choice is fine. For those who deal with regular yeast infections, going pantie-free to bed can make all the difference.

Going without a cloth barrier allows the area to breathe overnight and keeps moisture from building up or creating an environment for bacteria to build.

“I believe the vulva area should be exposed to the air, just like any other area of your body,” says Kelly-Jones.

If you really don’t like the feeling of being naked, Kelly-Jones recommends wearing loose-fitting pajama bottoms. Just remember, if you’re going without underwear but are wearing another type of bottom, they need to be washed frequently as well.

Basically, it doesn’t hurt to go without underwear overnight.

4. Well-fitting, moisture-wicking underwear is best for working out

Again, whether to go pantie-free or not when working out is a personal preference. If you’re wearing shorts that have moisture-wicking underwear built into it, you can forgo the underwear.

Wearing something between you and the fabric may be more comfortable and an even healthier way to catch the sweat. Typically, this would be a high-tech polyester that’s light and slick.

If you do choose to wear a pair, Kelly-Jones notes, “The most important thing is to make sure it fits well and doesn’t cause chafing.”

Once you find your ideal size, you can pick from the tons of great workout-specific underwear options like Lululemon’s Mula Bandhawear Bikini ($18) or Patagonia Women’s Active Briefs ($12).

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