Whether you're someone who hates underwear or you just really hate doing laundry, you might find yourself going commando pretty frequently. While there are definitely some benefits to going underwear-less, there are times where you shouldn't go commando, as it could end up negatively affecting your vaginal health. As annoying as putting on underwear can be, there's a reason it exists, which means sometimes it's necessary.
"There are actually several benefits to 'going commando,'" says Molly Shields, M.D., an OB/GYN with the Institute for Women’s Health over email. "Not wearing underwear allows the vagina to breathe, which can be beneficial when a woman has a condition such as a yeast infection. The underwear puts an additional layer directly against your vagina, which can create a breeding ground for bacteria, depending on the underwear’s fabric and style. That said, there are a few times when wearing underwear may be a better option than not."
If you're someone who likes your lady parts to breathe, by all means, skip those undies. However, if you also want to make sure your nether regions stay nice and healthy, you'll want to know exactly when it's time to put them on. Here are seven times you should never go commando.
1When Wearing Tight Jeans
"Synthetic or rough material such as denim that continuously rubs against the vagina can irritate or even create small cuts on the outer labia," says Shields. "Underwear provides a protective layer between delicate skin and irritating material."
2When You're Sweating A Lot
Whether it's because you are working out or if you suffer from excessive sweating down there (truncal hyperhidrosis), the right kind of underwear can help pull moisture away from the skin and allow you to avoid potentially embarrassing sweat stains. "Just make sure you wear underwear made of non-synthetic material, ideally with moisture-wicking fabric," says Shields. "Full coverage is also better than thongs in this instance, as thongs can shift during activity and actually draw bacteria into the vagina."
3When You Have Razor Burn
If you have razor burn or another type of vaginal irritation, you'll want to wear underwear to help provide an additional layer of protection. "Wearing underwear can guard inflamed vaginal skin from coming into contact with external irritants, which speeds along the healing process," says Shields.
4After Having A Baby
"Most women, whether they deliver vaginally or by C-section, will experience vaginal bleeding," says Shields. "Your body has just gone through the trauma and joy of carrying and delivering a child and will need the appropriate amount of time to recover. Wearing underwear allows new mothers to avoid using tampons or other foreign objects inserted into the vagina, at least until your OB/GYN gives you permission to do so."
5When You Go To The Gym
It would be nice to just wear our yoga pants when we work out, but it's best to put some on if you're headed to the gym. "Certain exercises can increase the risk of irritating the vulva or the vagina, especially if you don’t have an extra layer of protection," says Dr. Angela Jones, M.D., FACOG of over email. Tight gym clothes/spandex also aren’t readily absorbent, which means a moist and warm environment where bacteria is more likely to grow.
6When Bathing Suit Shopping
"The odds of contracting an infection from bathing suit or underwear shopping are very low," says Shields. "However, keeping your underwear on protects your vagina from co-mingling bacteria with a person who previously tried on the garment without their own underwear. Studies have shown that fecal microbes and other organisms are repeatedly found in retail bathing suits and underwear, so in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry."
7If You Don't Feel Comfortable
At the end of the day, if going commando makes you feel uncomfortable, don't do it! "Remember, it’s your body," says Jones. "You call the shots. If it doesn’t quite feel right, go with a nice pair of panties with a cotton crotch. Cotton for absorbency. "