Growing up, my mom, a nurse, constantly warned my sisters and me about the dangers of wearing underwear to bed. She spoke of the dreaded, smelly, itchy “crotch rot” that happens when you keep your vagina trapped in panties 24/7, never giving it the chance to “breathe.” Terrified to ever find myself in such an unfortunate situation, I’ve chosen to forgo bedtime panties my entire life. But now as a 20-something young woman, I’m left wondering if crotch rot is even real. Does wearing underwear to bed actually put your vagina in a compromising position?
The short answer: Yes.
According to Marcelle Pick, OB-GYN NP, co-founder of Women to Women, wearing underwear to bed should be avoided, especially for those more prone to yeast or bacterial infections, like vaginosis. “The vagina has a lot of bacteria in it, and if the person is sweating or is hot, it can be a breeding ground for more bacteria and other infections,” says Pick. (Find out the 13 things your vagina is trying to tell you.)
So while it may not be medically called “crotch rot,” wearing panties to bed can lead to unnecessary vaginal itchiness and irritation. Now this isn’t to say that you should swear off underwear for good because no one wants to wear jeans without undies or pull a Britney Spears and get a photo snapped spread eagle, but your 8-hour beauty rest presents the perfect opportunity to let your vagina breathe, as it’s extremely sensitive and should be treated with the utmost of care. But if you can’t go underwear-free at night (say you have a roommate, it’s cold, or you have your period), at least make sure you’re wearing the proper bedtime undergarments.
“If someone has to wear underwear, it is best to wear baggy, granny-type made of breathable cotton,” says Pick. “Silk and lace underwear are not breathable fabrics and therefore are poor choices if someone has to wear it at all.”
What about the guys in our lives?
Women aren’t the only ones who should try going underwear-less at night. Instead of crotch rot, men are prone to what I like to called “jock rot” (aka jock itch), which is a fungal infection commonly found in the groin area that can also be avoided by going commando at night.
Skip the undies and instead wear a pair of cotton pants or shorts. And whatever you do, never, ever wear the same pair to bed that you wore all day, especially if it’s a thong or nylon. Besides being just plain gross, the nylon “suffocates” your nether-regions and the design can cause fecal matter to smudge its way over to the vagina.
Life is hard enough as it is, so do yourself a favor and try going sans underwear for the night. Your vagina will thank you for it later. You should also make sure that you’re not making these 8 underwear mistakes that can mess with your health and style.