Let’s Get Personal: Should You Wear Underwear with Gym Leggings?

Deciding to wear underwear (or not) when you workout is a question for the ages.

Rear view of a woman stretching her leg on a pierWestend61/Getty Images

When it comes to working out, there are a few basics that every woman knows to grab, like a sports bra and running shoes. But there’s one fashion choice at the gym that’s a little more controversial—and more common than you might think. Is it better to go commando, or should you wear underwear with workout clothes? The Healthy @Reader’s Digest asked doctors to weigh in on the pros and cons of each side of this debate.

How Bad Is It to Re-Wear Sweaty Workout Clothes?

Yes, You Should

Rupal Juran, MD, a gynecologist in Indiana and practitioner with Maven Clinic, says that her patients ask this question a lot, and her recommendation is to opt in. She says there’s a lot of friction between your body and clothes, and underwear can help to provide protection from ingrown hairs and infections. Although she acknowledges that some people can wear thongs and have no problems, for most people it is best to stick with basic cotton briefs, because thongs can irritate that area’s delicate skin.

Here’s What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Underwear

No, You Shouldn’t

On the other hand, if you prefer to go commando, Donna Bell, MD, also with Maven Clinic, is all for it. She feels that some degree of ventilation is needed for the genitals since they rarely see the light of day. “Yeast like dark, moist, sweet areas,” she says. If you do choose to wear underwear when exercising, Dr. Bell recommends against thongs as they can impede airflow.

Get The Healthy @Reader’s Digest newsletter

Whatever You Decide…

Both doctors advocate that whether or not you wear underwear with workout clothes, keeping things clean is essential. Take a shower as soon as you’re done working out to get rid of the sweat that can cause infections and make sure to wash your workout clothes frequently.

Above all Dr. Juran says, women must remember to “be kind to our vaginas.” So whether you wear underwear or opt to go without, make sure you do so wisely.

For more wellness updates, follow The Healthy on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. Keep reading:

Carly Zinderman
Carly Zinderman is a freelance writer, based just outside of Los Angeles, CA. Since graduating from Occidental College with a degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies, she has written on a variety of topics for books, magazines, and online publications.She focuses on lifestyle topics including travel, food, fashion, shopping, beauty, home decor, entertainment, health, fitness and wellness and green living.
Miranda Manier
Miranda is the Associate Editor for TheHealthy.com and The Healthy section of Reader's Digest magazine. Previously, Miranda was a producer at WNIT, the PBS affiliate in South Bend, Indiana; and the producer in residence for Minneapolis TV news KARE 11, where she won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award for producing gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial. Miranda also interned at Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, and worked as the managing editor at the Columbia Chronicle at Columbia College. Outside of work, Miranda enjoys acting, board games, and trying her hand at a good vegan dessert recipe. She also loves talking about TV—so tell her what you’re watching!