Ladies, How Healthy is Your Underwear?

There are a lot of underwear options out there, but does what you wear really matter all that much? For women, it does.

Our vaginas are a delicate ecosystem with a sensitive pH and bacterial profile, and the underwear we choose to wear can have a massive impact on our overall vaginal balance. Here’s a breakdown of which undies are good (and not so good) for your vaginal health.

Lacy Underwear

If you love wearing lacy underwear, beware. While it may make you feel sexy, wearing it all day long can cause chafing, irritation, and redness. For such a sensitive area of your body, it’s best to avoid this. Keep your super sexy stash in your drawer for special occasions only—not for the office or the gym.

You left something (XXXL)


Sure, they make your butt look great, but at what cost? Due to the—ahem—unique shape of thongs, there is a widespread belief that bacteria from the anus can easily find its way into the vagina, causing yeast infections and UTIs.

Believe it or not, studies have debunked this myth. So, if you like thongs, go ahead and wear them. Just be conscious of choosing stretchy, breathable thongs that won’t cause irritation or discomfort with all-day wear.

Sporty Underwear

We all have the special underwear we like for working out, right? Well, workout undies can be good and bad.

On the plus side, they are stretchy and stay in place better than cotton options—and non-absorbent, so they won’t soak up your sweat like a diaper (a major plus). It’s perfectly fine to wear sporty underwear when you’re exercising or doing high-intensity activities.

However, be sure to change out of sweaty underwear as soon as you possibly can to to avoid bacterial buildup. Since these pairs are usually made of manmade materials, like polyester, spandex or nylon, they don’t offer much breathability.

panties on the line

Old Underwear

It’s easy to leave underwear in your drawer for years, but if you have pairs that are more than 12 months old (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), it may be time to give your undergarments a refresh.

Even clean underwear can harbor an incredible amount of bacteria—83 percent of “clean” panties contain up to 10,000 bacteria. So keep your underwear fresh and current—no one really likes wearing ripped undies, anyway.

So, what is the best undie option?

For day-to-day wearing, choose natural fabrics, like cotton, in the cut that appeals most to you. These have significantly more breathability than nylon and polyester.

If you have any ratty old pairs of underwear, throw them out. They’re not doing you any good.

While it’s fine to wear underwear during the day, the best thing to wear while you’re sleeping, of course, is nothing. Vaginas need airflow, so spending those eight hours commando is the best thing you can do for yours. With a little simple TLC, you can keep your vagina happy and healthy.

Related on Care2:


Kathy K
Kathy K11 days ago


Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer12 days ago

Thongs are ridiculous

Carol S
Carol S15 days ago

Cotton only for me!

Ruth R
Ruth R15 days ago

And to answer the question, as healthy as the person wearing it!

Ruth R
Ruth R15 days ago

I'm not throwing out underwear that's perfectly ok even if over 12 months old. Those 10,000 bacteria are all mine anyway - why should I be heartless and deprive them of a home?:)

Debbi W
Debbi W15 days ago

I've only warn cotton for decades and of course nothing at night. It might be an age thing, but I can't imagine who is comfortable in a thong. They are horrible.

Christine Stewart

I am very frugal and wear my undies until they are more bits of elastic than cloth! (TMI, I know!) but thanks for the article anyway...

Christine V
Christine V15 days ago

Good info

Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill15 days ago


Ruth S
Ruth S15 days ago