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Health Risks Concerning Underwear and Exercise

Underwear and Exercise: Health Risks If You Wear or Go Bare

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?

auroratyas auroratyas 4 years
Personally wicking underwear made with natural fibres (cotton). The most comfortable and hygienic. New brand called Pop&Go Knickers
Skorpio Skorpio 6 years
Im always paranoid my pants are going to randomly rip, in just the right spot, the day I don't wear undies to Yoga. I like to wear a sort of silky/meshy esk kind of panty. Its so light weight I can barely notice its there, yet gives me comfort in knowing there is one more layer between me and the guy directly behind me in cat cow.
Susi-May Susi-May 6 years
bjeanne, What brand of capris do you wear?
KeLynns KeLynns 6 years
My "little black workout pants" and my yoga shorts have a gusset already, so I don't wear underwear under those. But all my other workout shorts do not have a gusset, so I wear cotton panties underneath. The other day I happened to say something about not wearing underwear during yoga and my guy thought it was super weird and gross....I guess I never thought twice about it - since the pants already had a gusset, why would I add another layer?
bjeanne18 bjeanne18 6 years
cotton undies are NOT fun if you do a really intense workout and get really sweaty! I love the running capris with the built-in mesh liner that vents my *lady parts* :) I also like the running shorts with the built in 'panties'.
Beaner Beaner 6 years
For short runs, I prefer cotton undies, but toward the end, they def get annoying. Wearing wicking underwear really does make a difference. Well worth the $20 a pair.
jkledge01 jkledge01 6 years
If my workout pants/shorts have underwear attached or gusseted I go commando. If not 100% cotton knickers is the only thing I will wear. I live in the south which is hot & humid so sweating is a constant thing in the afternoon. My trainer just makes it worse!
FitMommas FitMommas 6 years
I tend to go commando, and typically have some sort of cotton workout pant or short. I know I need to invest in some wicking undies or other bottoms, but so far so good on the commando option!
wolfjinx25 wolfjinx25 6 years
I wear regular cotton panties whether I'm working out or not. Victoria's Secrets have adorable cotton panties and they are so comfortable!
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