If avoiding infection is your goal, wearing full-butt undies (bikinis, briefs, hipsters) with a breathable cotton crotch is best, Dr. Yamaguchi says. Or opt for seamless full styles, which tend to be made of synthetic fabric but are still better than a thong in this case because they’re not, well, shoved up your crotch. Whatever you wear, make sure your pair fits well & is not overly tight, Dr. Yamaguchi advises—again, to avoid chafing & spreading potentially harmful bacteria.
But if you don’t want to deal with undie lines or you’re just not a full-bottom person, then going comm&o is a healthier habit to ward off infection. Yes, a tight pair of yoga pants could also trap sweat, but they’re also not rubbing against your anus & then vagina as you move, Dr. Yamaguchi says. Ideally, the crotch of the pants will be made of moisture-wicking fabric, adds Dr. Dweck, since, again, bacteria thrive in a moist environment.
The vulva-friendly way to wear yoga pants
Of course, there are a lot of factors that could potentially lead to a vaginal infection or irritation, but making health-conscious underwear choices is an easy way to decrease your risk of both, Dr. Dweck says. Here are a few more gyno-approved tips to keep in mind:
Swap undies. If you’re going from work to the gym, are currently wearing a thong, & want to continue wearing a thong, change into a new one, advises Dr. Yamaguchi. A clean pair ensures that the back strip of fabric is free from bacteria from your rectum prior to working out.
Change ASAP. Regardless of what underwear you wore (or didn’t wear!) to exercise, “get out of your wet workout garments as soon as you’re able to” in order to help avoid irritation or a possible infection, Dr. Dweck says. And if you’re showering after your workout, be sure to towel yourself off well for the same reasons.
Clean up with mild soap. Speaking of showering, washing the sweat & bacteria away from your vulva after a workout can also keep it happy, but if yours is on the sensitive side (i.e., you regularly experience irritation or infection), Dr. Dweck recommends sticking with mild soap & water. Check the label & look for words like “mild,” “gentle,” or “sensitive”—& avoid fragrance if you can, since added scents can be irritating, she says. (Also worth noting: Soap should only be used around your vulva—it should never go inside your vagina. That usually doesn’t end well!)
Let your vulva breathe. After your shower, change into underwear (thong or otherwise) that has a cotton or moisture-wicking crotch. It’s also ideal to wear clothes that are on the looser side to let the area breathe, Dr. Dweck says—this helps keep moisture away from your vulva. What you want to avoid is showering & then putting your sweaty yoga pants back on, she adds.
Don’t worry if you forget. If you’re about to work out or halfway through your routine & realize you’re wearing a thong under your yoga pants, it’s okay. Just try to remember next time—& don’t sweat it. (Har, har.) “You are not going to permanently ruin your vagina by wearing a thong to a hot yoga class,” Dr. Yamaguchi says.
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