Even if thong underwear is more your granddaughter’s speed than yours, keep this tip in mind: If you have a propensity to get yeast or bacterial infections, thongs will only make things worse. “Thongs can be a unique transport vehicle for bacteria from the back to the front,” says Dr. Moore, referring to the spread of E. coli from the anus to the vaginal area. “There’s a lot of movement with the thongs, sliding back and forth—it doesn’t stay in place,” she says.
Dr. Dardik agrees: “Thong underwear can be more irritating, because it has more contact with vaginal and vulval area, but that doesn’t mean women can’t wear them — you just have to find right type for you,” she says. Meaning, if you like wearing thongs and they don’t cause you discomfort, then go for it. “Just because women become grandmothers, it doesn’t mean they need to wear big ‘granny’ underwear,” she adds.
Underwear at night
Most experts are proponents of sleeping in completely the unclad — as long as you’re comfortable in your birthday suit. “Though it’s a matter of personal preference, from the perspective of breathing and airing things out, you should sleep without underwear,” says Dr. Moore. For women who are going through menopause, going underwear-less may make even more sense. “The more you wear, the more you have to take off when you get night sweats,” she says. No one wants to linger in cold, wet panties once a hot flash passes.
Women and men who tend to sweat should change their underwear regularly — twice a day, as opposed to once a day for people who typically stay dry. And anyone who works out should put on a clean pair of undies as soon as they’re able. “A warm, moist environment is the perfect place for yeast to grow,” says Dr. Moore, who recommends that sweat-prone people invest in underwear made of moisture-wicking material and avoid cotton underwear, which tends to stay wet once it gets wet. “All of these problems are compounded if you have incontinence to any degree — even a drop or two,” says Dr. Moore. “When you work out, you can try wearing a panty liner. That way, if you’re not in a position to change underwear, at least you can change the panty liner or take it off.”
“Going commando” during the day
If breathable underwear is good, is wearing no underwear better? In a word: no. “No underwear causes a whole host of other problems, particularly because clothing doesn’t tend to have a liner,” says Dr. Dardik. “For one, if you’re wearing pants, the seam sits right in the vulval area and will constantly be rubbing the area,” which can irritate sensitive tissue. Secondly, the natural moisture produced by the v**ina has nowhere to go when you’re not wearing underwear. “If you are wearing dresses or skirts, there’s nothing there to absorb vaginal moisture,” she adds. “Then you can become hot and sweaty down there, which, in itself, can irritate the skin. In theory [no underwear] makes sense, until you think of the details.”