An Ob-Gyn Says Hanging Out in Sweaty Leggings Might Do This to Your Vagina

We already know that hanging out in a wet swimsuit can lead you straight to a yeast infection, which is pretty inconvenient during Spring and Summer months. It's natural to wonder if spending a long time in sweaty, post-workout leggings might have the same effect. We talked to an ob-gyn and have some tentatively good news: probably not — but you may want to change out of your sweaty clothes anyway.

A quick review: yeast infections are caused by a fungus, candida, that's naturally present in your vagina and kept in check by other bacteria. It only causes problems when it starts growing out of control. In a previous interview, ob-gyn Mache Siebel, MD, told POPSUGAR that wet swimsuits are a classic culprit for this because "yeast tends to grow in warm, moist areas." Spending time in a damp suit under the hot sun at the pool or beach can make you more prone to infection.

So, what about leggings? Erica Cahill, MD, an ob-gyn and cohost of The V Word podcast, told POPSUGAR that unlike swimsuits, sweaty leggings probably won't lead to a yeast infection. That doesn't mean you're good to hang out in them for hours on end, though. "If we're talking all day," she said, "that's probably just irritating for your skin on your vulva." That could make you feel itchy and uncomfortable, but it's not necessarily a yeast infection. The sure signs of a yeast infection, Dr. Cahill said, are itchiness, thick white discharge, and confirmed overgrowth of the candida fungus (which you'll need to see your ob-gyn to check for).

Without those, the skin around your vulva might just be irritated — better than a yeast infection, but still not fun. When in doubt and when possible, it's best to change, shower, and toss those leggings in the laundry.