I remember going to a sleepover at my cousin's house when I was about five years old. We'd just taken our baths and started settling in for the evening when I realized my cousin hadn't put on any knickers. I was aghast. How on earth could you sleep without your bits covered? In her infinite 7-year-old wisdom, she told me, "Mom says, 'sometimes you just gotta air it out.'" Air what out? I thought. It turns out, there is a lot of conflicting information out there. So, what happens if you sleep in your underwear? You might or may not be setting up yourself for some problems downtown.
Sleeping in your underwear seems, on the surface, like it could be a breeding ground for discomfort and possible infection. Recently, however, an article on BuzzFeed reported that it might not be as bad as previously thought, and it was primarily a matter of preference. However, obstetricians interviewed for Glamour stated just the opposite: that it can cause irritation and lead to infection. The truth of the matter is likely somewhere in between the two opinions, dependent upon the woman, as per LiveScience.
I spoke with microbiologist and adjunct lecturer studying the female microbiome for a feminine health company, Dr. Allison Collins, PhD. She tells Romper that what happens when you sleep in your underwear is that "It traps humidity and moisture to a point. This may be a pretty big concern to women who suffer from a propensity to get candida infections or yeast issues." She says that this isn't every woman, though. Some women don't develop these problems as frequently or with the same level of severity as others. It really comes down to the type of underwear you wear and your body's reaction to the fit and material.
Personally, I'm a big fan of knickers at night. I always have been. I simply feel too undressed without something holding up my undercarriage. I try to wear looser, 100 percent cotton panties at night, knowing full well that if I were to wear some of my seamless nylon underwear, that I'd wake up feeling less than fresh, even though I'd just showered the night before. I have a whole stash of panties that are purely for sleeping. They're not sexy by any stretch. In fact, if you made a Venn diagram of the sexiness of my period panties and relative sexy factor of my sleeping panties, all the it would be a perfect circle, because they're pretty much the exact same.
Collins notes that certain women have very persnickety parts and panties aren't their best option. Women with vulvar problems, for example, are especially affected by their panties, whether they're awake or asleep. "Women with vulvodynia," (a chronic pain disorder that involves vulvar discomfort) "may prefer the feeling of counter-pressure that panties provide, but it might be in their best interest to sleep without any on." Currently, it is the recommendation of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) to go without panties at night if you suffer from the syndrome.
"Otherwise," Collins says, "the research doesn't bore out that panties make a big difference one way or another." She says that you should be aware of your body and note the changes. If you're having recurrent infections, think about taking off the knickers at night, and see if that helps. Vaginas are like snowflakes; each and every one is unique in its own special way. It might the case that yours just needs a little extra oxygen to stay healthy. Or, if you're like me, you might just need to switch to cotton overnight panties. It's all about your own vagina's needs.
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