Experts Explain The Health Benefits Of Not Wearing Underwear

AleksandarNakic/E+/Getty Images
Originally Published: 

Up until very recently, I was an underwear-every-day kind of gal. Then something happened (maybe I didn't do laundry?) and I started venturing out into the world sans panties. I was instantly more comfortable, and felt oh-so-very free. But even more importantly, I realized there are so many health benefits of not wearing underwear. Why hadn't I been going commando all along?

Well, like most people, I grew up thinking underwear was an absolute necessity. Pulling on some cotton drawers was a normal part of getting dressed, and I never really questioned it. After all, when you think about it, underwear does kind of make sense. It helps to catch vaginal discharge, it holds your pad in place, and the right pair can even be kind of comfy.

That's why people are on both sides of the fence when it comes to going commando. "The choice to wear no undergarment is a personal one that really depends on what you’re wearing and what your preferences are," Cindy Barshop, sexual health expert and founder of VSPOT Medi-Spa, tells Bustle. "The timing of your cycle, if there’s any discharge, and the soil [level] of [your] clothing are the factors to take into account when deciding if you’re going to wear underwear."

If you do go for a pair of undies, make sure they are cotton, Barshop says, instead of silk or a synthetic material. But if you want to skip that part of getting dressed, then be ready for a pretty comfortable life, and possibly even a few health benefits listed below. Here are some of the reasons why 86ing your underwear can be a pretty good idea.

1. Air Can Flow Freely

One of the problems with underwear — especially the kind made of synthetic fabrics — is that it prevents air from flowing. And that's not good when it comes to keeping your nether regions happy. "Going commando lets the labia and vagina spend some time away from underwear fabric," Kameelah Phillips, MD, an OB/GYN based in New York City, tells Bustle, and the moisture that can build up in the area.

2. Your Bits Can "Breathe" At Night

If you don't want to nix your underwear during the day — and that is understandable — at least consider going to bed without them. This can help the area "breathe," Barshop says. And if you're worried about heading out into the world without underwear, trying it out in the comfort of your own home may be a good place to start.

3. Bad Bacteria Is Less Likely To Migrate

BDG Media, Inc.

If you're a fan of thongs, it may be time to rethink what you slip into every morning. "Thongs are a no-no," Barshop says. "[They aid] in bacterial transfer from the anal area into the vaginal area." And yes, it can happen even after you've showered. So if you're worried about your panty line showing, not wearing underwear may be the better option.

4. Yeast Infections Can Clear Up

If constant yeast infections are your MO, skipping underwear can help clear things up. "Allowing the air to hit this area is important because it stops the moisture trapped by our underwear from causing a yeast infection and skin irritation externally," Barshop says. Good news for those of us who are feeling a bit... itchy.

5. There's Less Friction While Exercising

To wear underwear, or not to wear underwear while working out? Your decision could affect your health. Credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

If underwear traps sweat and moisture throughout the day, then you can only imagine how messy things can get whilst working out. And that's why it may be a good idea to exercise without undies, in order to let air flow more freely. It can also reduce the risk of chafing, due to the lack of friction between skin and fabric.

It is, however, a personal choice. You may find that wearing underwear helps absorb sweat and keeps you more comfortable, but "it should be immediately removed after working out," Phillips says. "Staying in wet underwear for a prolonged amount of time can [lead to] yeast infections."

6. It Can Prevent Dampness

Wearing underwear isn't likely to lead to more UTIs (urinary tract infections) if you aren't already prone to infections. But it may be something worth considering if you're someone who has a lot of discharge, and you don't want moist underwear bunching up around your bits.

"The average woman need not fear wearing underwear," Felice Gersh, M.D. OB/GYN and founder/director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, tells Bustle. "Nevertheless, if a woman for some reason is always extremely damp, or actually quite wet on the vulva and perineal area (skin of the vulva by the bladder and vaginal opening) then not wearing underwear while wearing a loose, long dress may help. Simply skipping underwear, but wearing [fitted] pants, would serve no purpose."

7. It Gives You Time Away From Harsh Chemicals

It's not something you might think about, but skipping underwear — even if you just do it occasionally — can give your labia and vagina some time away from the chemicals that can settle in your underwear after washing, Phillips says. Whether that's detergent or fabric softener, all of it can irritate your skin. And taking a little break can be a good thing.

That said, wearing underwear can also protect you from the very same chemicals in your other clothes. "Wearing underwear protects your labia from direct contact with clothes that can be abrasive, have dyes, or chemicals that can irritate you," she says. So it's all about finding what works best for you, and what feels most comfortable.

8. Your Sex Life Could Get A Boost

A fun side effect of going commando is that it could, in some ways, give your sex life a little boost. Because some people really do get a kick out of going panty-less.

"The catch is, it only works if you think it’s sexy," Jennifer Doan, sex and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "If you’re not 100 percent into it, or you’re just doing it for the benefit of your partner, not only will it not feel sexy, it will feel completely awkward and uncomfortable."

9. You'll Feel More Comfortable

BDG Media, Inc.

Underwear has the annoying tendency to bunch up, turn into wedgies, and get itchy along the seams. If that's been your experience, then consider dropping 'em altogether. Without all the extra fabric bunching up between your thighs, you'll probably feel a heck of a lot better.

And this is especially true if you're used to wearing notoriously uncomfortable underwear. "If you wear tight underwear or thong underwear," Phillips says, "skipping underwear can be more comfortable on your body."

10. You'll Lower Your Risk Of Fungal Infections

"Panties can contain heat and moisture and place the vulvar tissues at increased risk of developing a fungal infection called tinea cruris," Gersh says. It can be incredibly itchy, Gersh says, much like a vaginal yeast infection. But if the air is allowed to flow in that area, it may be less likely to happen.

11. Circulation Is No Longer An Issue

Many types of underwear can feel too tight, to the point they pinch or itch. If that's the case, "you will notice imprints in the skin and around the inner thigh," Phillips says. "Major circulation issues aren’t common, because the discomfort is enough to make you take them off." And once you do, you might just be tempted to stay that way more often than not.

Of course, not wearing underwear won't be right for everyone, but it can come with quite a few benefits. If you'd like to give it a try, start off slow, possibly by not wearing underwear while you sleep. And then moving on to a full commando lifestyle, if it seems to be working for you.

This article was originally published on