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Here's What Your Vagina Thinks About Sleeping In Underwear

Let's tackle this vaginal health debate, once and for all.

If you have a vagina, you're probably familiar with the whole "sleeping in underwear" debate.

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People seem to have VERY STRONG opinions about it...

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For the record, a bug probably won't crawl up your vagina while you sleep.

But does sleeping in underwear actually have an impact on your vaginal health?

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We reached out to two experts to find out: Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine; and Dr. Lauren Streicher, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s medical school, and author of Sex Rx.

Turns out, there's no medical evidence your vagina or vulva needs to "air out" at night, or that sleeping commando is healthier. / Via giphy

"This whole notion that wearing or not wearing underwear will improve vaginal health is pretty much a health myth," Streicher says. There really isn't any scientific data out there that proves it's better for the vagina to sleep without underwear, says Minkin, and it's really more about personal preference.

So don't worry, your vulva and vagina will still be able to ~breathe~ in underwear. "The only thing that actually doesn't let your vagina get any air exposure are thick nylon tights with no cotton panel, or tight spandex — but people aren't wearing those to sleep every night," Minkin says.

And according to the experts, sleeping in undies will not cause or worsen a yeast infection or vaginitis. / Via

Yeast infections are caused by the overgrowth of a naturally occurring fungus called candida albicans, and vaginitis is usually caused by an imbalance in vaginal bacteria. In both cases, the problem starts with an internal imbalance, Streicher says, not an external factor like underwear.

The idea that sleeping in underwear can cause or worsen these infections is a myth, Streicher says. Some people even believe they'll get toxic shock syndrome from sleeping in underwear, Minkin says, which is also false.

"We've seen yeast infections in people who wear extremely tight pants that ride up in the crotch because they cause more irritation and trap moisture, but this is more an issue of tightness of clothing, not underwear," Minkin says. So yeah, maybe don't wear skintight leather pants on a hot summer day — but don't worry about harming your vaginal health by sleeping in your regular old underwear.

The fit and fabric doesn't make a big difference either, as long as the underwear isn't way too tight.

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You might've also heard that cotton undies are better for your vagina than synthetic ones. However, this is more of an individual preference, Minkin says, not an evidence-based conclusion. "When you look at the medical literature, there is no real science that shows cotton underwear makes a difference as compared to other fabrics," Streicher says. Cotton might be a safer option if the skin around your vulva is particularly sensitive, but it's not a rule for everyone.

The style of underwear — such as bikini, boyshort, or thong — doesn't really matter either as long as it isn't insanely tight and constricting. "Sometimes we see issues with tight thongs where the string gets tucked in there and causes irritation or abrasions to the vulva and perineum, but that's more of an issue with size and fit," Streicher says. So if you know your skin is very sensitive down there, maybe don't sleep in your tiniest G-string and opt for a looser option instead.

But if you can sleep in a thong and it doesn't bother you, there's no need to switch your habits, Minkin says. Besides, if any underwear gives you a super uncomfortable wedgie, then you can probably feel that it isn't great for your vagina whether you wear it during the day or night.

The most important thing, the experts say, is that you sleep in whatever is most comfortable for you.

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"It's all about comfort, and most people sleep without underwear simply because it just feels better," Streicher says. Some people may also choose to wear underwear to sleep when they're on their period and nervous about leakage in the middle of the night. Or maybe some people just like the way sleeping in underwear feels or how the extra layer is warmer in the winter.

"As long as the underwear you sleep in doesn't cause any issues and it's comfortable, don't worry and keep doing what you're doing," Minkin says.

If your underwear does cause irritation, then maybe try sleeping commando — but also consider possible irritants in your laundry detergent, fabric softener, or soap. / Via

"If you have a tendency to wake up with vulva irritation or burning, it could be the detergent or fabric softener you wash your undies in, which also sits on your vulva all night," Streicher says. It's always important to take a look at the chemicals and irritants in your laundry products and any soap you're using around your vulva. "These are much more likely to cause problems than the underwear itself," Streicher says.

And if you're having serious vaginal irritation that won't go away, check in with your OB-GYN to make sure it isn't an undiagnosed yeast infection or vaginitis.

So tl;dr — your vagina doesn't care whether you sleep in underwear or not, as long as it's comfortable!

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"Everyones going to argue this and give anecdotal examples about how they had problems from sleeping in underwear, but that's still not the same as medical evidence from a scientific study on hundreds of people," Streicher says. And again, it doesn't matter what kind of underwear you sleep in as long as you are comfortable and wake up with no vaginal irritation or other problems.

"Remember, the purpose of underwear is technically to protect our clothes, not our genitals, so there's no real protective aspect or health benefit of underwear either," Streicher says. So just keep doing you and get a good night of sleep in whatever you choose to wear (or not wear) to bed.

  1. So, do you sleep in underwear?

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So, do you sleep in underwear?
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    Of course, every single night!
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    Yes, but only in specific underwear I have for bed
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    Only if I forget to take them off before bed
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    Only if I'm on my period
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    Literally NEVER!