If your underwear drawer still sports panties from college or underthings so worn you’d be embarrassed to be in an accident wearing them (remember that old adage?), it’s time for a panty refresh. But just what should you look for in a pair of dainties for your vaginal health? Are thongs OK? Is cotton the best fabric, and what is the right fit?
What’s the Best Underwear Fabric for Vaginal Health?
Experts say you should look for wide-fit, cotton underwear. And that white, 100 percent cotton garments are the best choice. The color white comes up frequently, which may either be a Victorian-era holdover or a nod to avoiding the dye in colored panties, though with today’s technology, dyed fabrics shouldn’t be a problem. Skip panties made from nylon, acetate, or other manmade fibers if you have delicate skin or are prone to vulvar irritation as they won’t breathe as well and are likely to collect moisture.
Best Fit and Style for Vaginal Health: Granny panties or Thongs?
In the past, experts advised against thongs, citing potential issues such as yeast infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), or bacterial vaginosis (BV) due to their design. But most Gynecologists now think avoiding thongs may be unnecessary.
One recent study found no significant evidence that thongs cause UTIs, BV, or yeast infections. Another 2019 Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Research study found that wearing thongs didn’t cause vaginal infections. However, non-cotton crotch underwear was associated with yeast infections.
Whatever style you select, your underwear should fit snugly around your hips, and not ride up your bum or vaginal area. It should include a cotton crotch and comfortable elastic in the waistband and legs.
What About Going Commando?
Going underwearless is a happy breathability option, and doctors recommend it for sleeping. However, if you’re not wearing underwear under jeans or other rough or uncomfortable pant fabrics like linen or polyester, you’re likely going to irritate your vulva.
How Many Days Can You Wear a Pair?
As for the frequency of changing your underwear, your mother was right again. You should opt to change your undies daily. And if you’ve sweated a lot, have a large amount of discharge, or live a very active lifestyle, it’s not a bad option to change them more frequently—up to twice a day. That way, you avoid sitting around in a damp pair, which can make yeast infections and UTIs more likely. While there’s no science on throwing out your old undies, you should generally replace your underwear drawer annually or after about 50 washes per pair. After that, elastic stretches out and the fabric may develop holes.
Some Examples of Healthy, Vagina-Supporting Undies:
Whatever your underwear preferences may be, you can find vagina-friendly pairs to suit you such as these brands. However, there are plenty more beyond this short list that meet our fit, style and fabric recommendations.
Pros: A true classic. Stays put, feels like a favorite T-shirt; Cons: Visible panty lines.
Pros: Smooth modal material, excellent breathability, stays in place; Cons: pricey.
Pros: Low rise, high leg openings; Cons: may cause wedgies.
Pros: Soft, odor-free, ultra-light material, breathable, true to size; Cons: Pricey.
Pros: Soft Merino blend, stays in place, no-flip waist, odor-free; Cons: Longer line dry time.
Pros: Seamless, dries quickly, thin fabric; Cons: Holds odor, size runs small.
Pros: Seamless, doesn’t cut or rub, vanishes under clothing; Cons: Ultrathin material may not
Pros: Polyamide-blend fabric that’s comfortable, stays put, soft feel, forget it’s there; Cons:
Visible panty lines.