Are your unmentionables, uh, unhealthy?
If you’re having, er, lady part issues, the last thing you might think to blame is your undergarments. But certain different ways you wear or wash your underwear could affect your vaginal health and your odds for developing yeast infections or other common infections. Here are four underwear habits you may want to reconsider if you’re prone to these kind of lady-part problems:
1. Your knickers are too tight. If your underwear band is making the same red line around your waist as your hair tie does on your wrist, your skivvies could be too tight. Not only is too-tight underwear uncomfortable, but it can also cause friction, irritation, and excess moisture. This could be a trigger for a yeast or bacterial infection.
2. Your skivvies are synthetic. Your old-school cotton workout underwear get a pass here, but your sexy satin ones may not. Silky or synthetic fabrics are not as breathable and are more likely to retain warmth and moisture, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Let your lady parts breathe: Choose undies with a cotton crotch.
3. You sit in sweaty undergarments. Whether it’s grabbing a smoothie with a friend after spin class or hightailing it home to whip up some dinner after the gym because you’re STARVING, many things can take priority over changing out of your sweaty gear apres workout. While it may seem harmless, it’s not. When you linger in your sweaty yoga pants and underthings, you create a warm, moist environment for that infection-causing bacteria to thrive in.
4. Your detergent is irritating. Even if the rest of your body isn’t sensitive to your laundry soap, your vulva (the external female genitals), may feel differently. Certain detergents may cause contact dermatitis, which is when the skin becomes red, sore, or inflamed after direct contact with a substance. So if you’re itching or burning, try washing your skivvies in suds intended for sensitive skin.
Disorders of the Vulva: Common Causes of Vulvar Pain, Burning, and Itching. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2015. (Accessed on March 5, 2018 at https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Disorders-of-the-Vulva-Common-Causes-of-Vulvar-Pain-Burning-and-Itching#help)
Vaginal Yeast Infection. Office on Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Accessed on March 5, 2018 at https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/vaginal-yeast-infections)
Contact Dermatitis. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. (Accessed on March 5, 2018 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000869.htm)