It’s a part of every woman’s body she knows intimately well. It’s a source of much political debate and home to monthly changes. It can be a source of pleasure, and of pain, but for those who celebrate their lady bits, a vagina can feel all-powerful. And while you may cherish and care for her—you could be missing the mark on how to, well, dress her. Nah, we’re not talking about the old ‘vajazzling’ trend from the early 2010s, but rather, your underwear.
The Best Underwear For Your Vagina
As OBG-YN, Tristan Emily Bickman, MD explains, if we aren’t using the right type of fabric or finding fits that are not only comfortable, but also beneficial for our vagina, we could be putting her in grave danger.
“Underwear can make the vaginal tissue moist and it can make it difficult to breathe,” she continues. “As a result, moisture gets trapped, and this can change the vagina’s environment and change the balance and the pH. This can result in bacteria where yeast can grow, increasing the rate of infection.”
Here, what you need to know when you decide to stock up on another set of thongs, briefs, or both.
You should throw out underwear after six months.
Think about the pair of undies you’re sporting right this very moment: when did you buy them? If you’re like most folks, you probably can’t remember. Though it’s easy to hold onto your softest pair, the co-founder and CEO of Knickey, Cayla O’Connell Davis, says, like other daily necessities we use, underwear has a shelf life. While a standard rule is tough since all garments are made differently, it’s best to toss out underwear between six months and a year.
Not only are they likely tattered, stretched-out and torn, they can also house some fairly gross nuggets you’re not even aware of. Citing a study conducted by the Good Housekeeping Institute, Davis says there are tens of thousands of bodily particles that can remain on clean (!) undergarments, even after you’ve washed and dried ‘em. “The older the pair, the more likely they are to cause unwanted irritation such as a UTI or yeast infection,” she adds.
Stay away from synthetic fibers.
If you’re a fan of stretchy, seamless thongs or briefs, we have some bad news for you: your vagina isn’t a fan. Since most of these pairs are made with synthetic fibers, you’re actually putting your most sensitive area at risk. As Davis explains, these petroleum-derived fabrics are not breathable, so they act to trap in moisture, upping your chances of a bacterial infection. Another not so good byproduct of these fibers? They keep in any type of odor, too. The most rampant synthetic fibers are nylon, rayon, and viscose, and should be avoided in your undie drawer.
Another material that doesn’t work in your vagina’s favor is polyester. Davis puts it bluntly when she shares that polyester is, in short, plastic. “Originally derived from polyethylene terephthalate, it is a synthetic material that is made of petrochemicals from crude oil. While that origin story alone is enough to curb me from wearing it, it also stands to note that when confronted with heat or moisture, polyester has the tendency to off-gas its toxic compounds into the atmosphere: in both laundry, and importantly, onto the body,” she explains.
Organic cotton is best.
Your nether-regions are a diverse ecosystem and they deserve TLC to remain healthy and functioning. When you choose organic cotton, you’re giving your vagina a comfortable shield throughout your day. Davis says it’s important to look for third-party certification, like the Global Organic Textile Standard, since not all cotton material is created equally.
“While regular cotton is generally a better choice than synthetics, such as nylon, rayon, and viscose, the system of manufacturing it conventionally can expose the wearer to high levels of toxic chemicals and carcinogens,” she explains.
“Certified organic cotton—just like organic vegetables—prevents the use of such harmful chemicals in production, and has the added benefit of being better for the environment to create.”
Be wary of bamboo fabrics.
You may have made the switch to bamboo since it’s often referred to as an eco-friendly fiber but this renewable source comes with a chemical-heavy process. Davis says when the stalky tree trunks get extruded into a soft, buttery rayon, it releases toxic substances into the environment: sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide, and carbon disulfide. Though it’s tough to know if these emissions will end up on your undies, they’ve all been tied to reproductive issues in women, and it’s likely in your best interest to steer clear. The only exception is that one important keyword again: certified organic. These are likely safer and produced with more ethical standards.
Silk is a solid choice.
Smooth to the touch and often an easy way to sport underwear without showing a crease, Davis says silk is both breathable and hypoallergenic, thanks to its natural properties. “Silk’s inherent qualities are known to ward off mold, mites, and fungi, and it therefore aids in the prevention of vaginal infections,” she explains. If you have sensitive skin and even cotton feels too scratchy, this luxury fabric will ensure your vagina is hydrated and comfortable.
Some Undies to Consider:
Amazon Essentials Cotton Stretch Bikini Panty, $13.50 for six
Made of 100 percent cotton, you can spend the day at the office, go for a workout class and return home without worrying about the health of your vagina. Made by Amazon Essentials and available on Prime, they’re affordable—and recommended.
Knickey High Raise Brief, $34
For more coverage, softer cotton and comfortable fit, try Knickey. With a cult following, there’s a reason so many people are mega fans of this brand. You’ll appreciate the careful attention to detail, the easy-to-wear design and most of all, your lady bits are protected.
Pact Boy Shorts, $12
Some women prefer thongs, others go for cute briefs. But there’s nothing better than a boy short that’s uber-relaxed and easy-going. Make sure to look for a pair like these bad boys, which are made of sustainable, organic fair-trade cotton. Especially if you prefer thin over thick for your underwear, these can’t be missed.
Aerie Cotton High Waisted Boybrief Undie, $14.50
Whether you feel more confident with a little control above your vagina or you’re wearing a skin-tight dress that requires some smoothing, try these cotton high-waisted briefs. They are more effective than traditional low-rise options and cheaper than some of the pricier shapewear.