Bare or Wear? Don’t Care
Whether or not you skip undies is up to you—panty lines are totally a personal preference—but there are some compelling reasons to consider covering up.
“Bacteria and yeast love a moist and warm environment,” says Doerthe Brueggmann, M.D., of Health Goes Female. “So a very effective and simple protection is to wear any underwear under your workout gear to catch sweat and developing moisture. This is why it’s not a good idea to go commando!”
However, David Bank, M.D., founder and director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, adds that fabric choice is crucial when it comes to your workout gear. “If you frequently wear bottoms with moisture-wicking capabilities, then underwear is not necessary.” And thanks to the latest innovations in fitness apparel, many pants and shorts have built-in undies made from wicking, antibacterial fabric,
Steer Clear of Satin
And lace as well. Neither fabric is breathable, and lace could rub you the wrong way (literally) and cause irritation. According to Christine O’Connor, M.D., director of Well Woman Care and Adolescent Gynecology at The Weinberg Center for Women’s Health at Mercy Medical Center, the best fabric for exercise-friendly underwear is moisture wicking and breathable—cotton is good, but many of the newer synthetic fabrics are specifically designed to keep you dry. And for repetitive movements, like long distance running, buy underwear with flat seams that are non-abrasive.
Bank agrees that newer, exercise-specific fabrics are better than plain cotton. “Most [technical undies] are stretchy but supportive, which is great for climbing and kneeling. They also wick sweat far more efficiently than any cotton undies around to help keep you drier,” he says. “The antimicrobial treatment within will also help to fight odor. These options are definitely worth the extra money to keep you healthy and dry when working out.”
But don’t get carried away. When it comes to “silver-infused” antimicrobial panties, you can save your money—studies show that 50 percent of the silver is gone after just a few washings.
You Can Wax If You Want To
Many fit girls just feel “cleaner” if they’re bare down there. But while it may look cleaner, waxing and shaving can actually have the opposite effect. “Pubic hair exists to protect the genital region and the sensitive skin in that area,” Bank says. “When it is waxed or even shaved, you are removing an important layer of protection. Possible risks include STIs, burns, infected ingrown hairs, and scarring.”
Still determined to keep things tidy? “Overall, waxing is the more gentle method to get rid of hair and should be the preferred method, especially if you have sensitive skin or easily develop infections,” Brueggmann says. But if you go totally fuzz-free, you might want to consider wearing undies to keep that tender skin protected