While halfway through my morning workout I said to my running buddy, "Dang, I shouldn't have worn this underwear!" She was surprised I was wearing any at all. That got me thinking — is it healthier to wear panties while exercising, or is going commando better for your lady business? If you do wear undies, are certain materials or styles healthier?
The combination of heat, sweat, and friction in your nether regions is not only uncomfortable, it can be unhealthy. Tight and nonbreathable clothing traps heat and moisture, which can encourage the growth of candida, and lead to an unbearable yeast infection. That's not the only thing you have to worry about. When bacteria travels from back to front, it increases your risk for contracting an uncomfortable urinary tract infection (UTI) as well. These can both be prevented if you pay special attention to what you wear below the waist.
There's a lot worth mentioning about your unmentionables, so keep reading to find out what you should be wearing when working out.
Cotton undies: Cotton is lightweight and breathable, which are both good qualities when it comes to your lady parts. Underwear made from all cotton are recommended for lighter types of exercise like yoga or strength training where you're not moving a ton. With something like running or biking, the cotton will absorb your sweat, become heavy, and shift around a lot, and could actually become irritating to your skin in that area.
Thongs: This style prevents wedgies and panty lines, but it turns out it's not the best choice health-wise. Since it's tight fitting, stays close to your body, and slides back and forth as you exercise, it's perfectly designed to move fecal bacteria to your vagina, which can lead to UTIs or vaginal bacterial infections. For your workouts, I'd say thong be gone.
Boy shorts: This undies style offers fuller coverage so it may help keep your tushy warm during colder workouts. You may not find them as comfortable though since the crotch might ride up. Extra material down there isn't good for moisture management either, so if you prefer this style, make sure they fit well and stay put when you move.
Wicking undies: Some are made of synthetic material such as nylon or polyester, while others use nature's bounty, made of comfy merino wool. These panties are specifically made to move moisture away from you sensitive parts, so you can rest easy wearing these while sweating it out, especially on longer workouts.
Bottoms with built-in wicking underwear: If your exercise shorts or pants have a wicking panel sewn in, known as a gusseted crotch, then you may wonder why anyone needs to wear undies at all. Underwear isn't necessary, but it all comes down to personal preference. If you feel more comfortable having a layer between you and your bottoms for controlling sweat or odor, it won't hurt to wear undies; just make sure they're made of breathable cotton or are designed for wicking.
Going bare: If breathability is a top concern when it comes to your special area, then wearing nothing seems like the perfect option, right? The issue with this is that if your workout bottoms don't contain a wicking panel in the crotch, you'll end up with the same problems you would if you were wearing nonbreathable undies. So check your shorts or pants before going commando.
Aside from what you wear down there, the number one way to prevent infections is to remove your sweaty clothes as soon as your workout is complete, and take a shower ASAP. Use warm water and a mild soap, and refrain from using douches, scented powders, or sprays.
I'm curious, when it comes to working out, what do you wear?