Ants in your pants? Here are 7 simple underwear rules for a healthy (and yeast-free) vagina
That’s one itch you *can’t* scratch
Vulvovaginal candidiasis, the more scientific term for ye olde yeast infection, is a fungal infection that occurs in the vagina. They’re common (around 75 per cent of women are estimated to experience one at some point in their lives), and they are usually associated with an array of uncomfortable symptoms.
For starters, you may experience itching, inflammation, or irritation around the vagina and the vulva, a painful or burning sensation when peeing or having sex, and—here’s the fun part—a thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge that may either be odourless or “bread-y” (but not in a good way).
There are two categories of yeast infections: Complicated, and uncomplicated. The latter describes an infection that is infrequent and mild-to-moderate in severity. The former describes an infection that is either recurrent, severe, or occurring in women with compromised or suppressed immune systems.
Either way, a trip to the doctor is the best course of action for treatment—what we’re actually here to discuss are your underwear habits and how they may be the root cause behind your—ahem—issues.
Ahead, find 7 underwear mistakes you may be making, and what you should be doing instead!
Change your panties every day (at the very least)
Moisture, sweat, and stuffy situations are the perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive in. Do your lady parts a favour and keep your pants on constant rotation.
Don’t just limit yourself to a pair a day, either. Let’s be real—we’re all probably well acquainted with the phenomenon that is vaginal discharge and sweaty nethers. Maybe you’re fresh from the gym (or a little too excited by human contact); either way, you should not hesitate to address the situation as soon as it gets… moist.
It’s a simple solution: As soon as you begin to feel uncomfortable, switch out your pants!
Speaking of fun ways to switch up your panty routine—if you’re particularly sweaty on a day-to-day basis, you may want to consider flying free come evening time. There’s no time like bedtime to air out the moisture down there and keep things breathable.
PS: You don’t have to go fully bare down-there if you’re uncomfortable. Even using loose pyjama bottoms without underwear is enough to keep the moisture at bay. Just make sure you’re chucking said bottoms in the wash regularly!
Watch your materials
Though there are a plethora of cute undies in fabrics like nylon, polyester, and lace, we highly recommend that you stick to natural fabrics like cotton on a day-to-day basis.
It should come as no surprise that your vulva is extremely sensitive, so it needs to be treated delicately. Cotton is light, breathable, and absorbent, as well as gentle on the skin. Trust us—when it comes to your intimate health, it’s best to save the sexier stuff for date nights!
If you’re an avid athlete, you can either choose to go commando under your fancy shorts with the built-in undies or opt for moisture-wicking underwear to save the day.
Get the right fit
On the topic of underwear design, one more thing to consider when making your choice is fit. Chafing doesn’t just happen between thunder thighs on hot, summery days.
The wrong kind of underwear can cause friction in all the wrong places—by ensuring that your panties fit well, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of grief (and, potentially, some nasty infections).
Now, don’t let this limit the cut of underwear you prefer. Anything from bikini panties to thongs to granny panties is perfectly fine, as long as they don’t rub you in the wrong places. Just go for whatever works for your body.
Watch your detergents
Remember when we said that your ‘V’ was a sensitive, delicate area? Well, on that note, there is nothing worse for your privates than a super-fragranced, irritating detergent. Just as the skin on your face may react badly to overly-fragranced products, your vulva shares the same sensitivities.
To avoid any mishaps, you’ll want to use gentle, hypoallergenic, and non-fragranced soaps to wash your delicates (FYI: By ‘delicates’, we mean all types of underwear in your drawer—not just your fancy lingerie). Further, keep your delicates separate from other soiled clothes in the wash to prevent cross-contamination.
We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again: No vagina smells like flowers (and if yours does, consider this an intervention). Your vagina is self-cleaning—it’s actually one of the most incredible things about the sexual organ. It produces discharge to clear the pipes and keeps its internal condition positively acidic. This environment is carefully curated by your nethers to maintain the good bacteria while staving away the bad.
When you douche or spray your hoo-ha, what you’re doing is disrupting this natural balance, and washing out the good bacteria. Don’t believe us? There are a number of implications associated with the practice, including vulvovaginal infections and even pelvic inflammatory disease. In fact, a study found that the cessation of douching reduced the incidence of bacterial vaginosis in a group of women.
Instead, what you should be doing is washing your vulva with plain water, and (if absolutely necessary) using a gentle, unscented, and hypoallergenic soap to gently clean the outside. Just remember to rinse thoroughly.
PS: Always dry your nethers completely after a shower—this will stave off some that musty smell and prevent any nasties from festering down there.
Observe impeccable menstrual hygiene
It should go without saying that periods are a time to amp up the hygiene routine. There are, indeed, a few things you can do to keep your lady bits in check.
Firstly, whether you’re using a pad, a tampon, or a menstrual cup, it’s absolutely imperative that you are changing them (or emptying them out) regularly.
Next, when it comes to reusable pads, period pants or menstrual cups, you have to be thorough with the deep clean. If you wouldn’t put it on your face, it shouldn’t be going anywhere near your vagina.
Finally, when it comes to your tampons, make sure you’re picking the right absorbency for your flow—aside from the increased risk of toxic shock syndrome (more on that another day), wearing a too-absorbent tampon can lead to vaginal dryness and encourage bacterial and fungal growth.