What Actually Happens To Your Body If You Stop Wearing Underwear

Ever considered going commando? There are a few reasons you may have thought about ditching your underwear before, from eliminating those awkward undie lines to feeling a little freer down there. But did you know there can be actual health benefits (and side effects, for that matter) of leaving your undies in the drawer? As Dr. Donnic Moore, a gynecologist and president of Sapphire Women's Health Group, put it to Health, "It's not good to always have the lady parts locked up. They need air like all other parts of your body." That could mean something as simple as ditching the undies at night to give your downstairs a little time to breathe. But more and more people have been going commando during the day too, proudly leaving their undergarments at home.


There's no one answer fits all here when it comes to whether you should or you shouldn't keep your undies in regular rotation (as Lounge founder Mel Marsden put it to HuffPost, "It is completely up to the individual and doing what makes them feel most comfortable is key"). But there are some pretty serious health positives and negatives you need to consider before deciding if underwear really is (or isn't) for you.

Sweating and odor can be kept to a minimum (particularly when working out)

If you experience a lot of sweating down there, not wearing underwear can actually be a great way to keep things cooler and fresher. Wearing underwear — particularly undies without a lot of breathability — can make your intimate area a lot warmer, which could lead to increased sweating around the groin. Because of that, many people prefer to go sans underwear when they workout. And it turns out that going commando to the gym can actually have a number of benefits even beyond sweating. "Some women prefer to go commando during running, elliptical, spinning, kickboxing, etc., which affords less chafing, less visible lines in tighter workout clothes, and gives a sense of more mobility and flexibility," OB/GYN Dr. Alyssa Dweck explained to Shape.


Another reason some people are leaving their undies at home? Because less sweating down there can also potentially mean less odors around the intimate area. A lot of (but not all) vaginal odors can actually be caused by underwear trapping the sweat that develops around the intimate area. By ditching the garment, any sweat around your genitals will be given the opportunity to evaporate so the whole area has more of a chance to breathe in a cooler, drier environment.

The chances of developing yeast infections, Bacterial Vaginosis, fungal infections, and UTIs may reduce

By going without underwear, you're also giving your body a better chance at not developing a number of infections, such as yeast infections, Bacterial Vaginosis, fungal infections, and UTIs. That's because, as OB/GYN and author Dr. Sherry A. Ross told Well+Good, "There is no buildup of heat and moisture which can increase the risk of a vaginal infection."


In some people, underwear can create the ideal warm and moist environment for Candida to thrive, which can then develop into a yeast infection. Dr. Donnica Moore told Hella Health this is particularly a risk if you like to wear silk underwear, or undergarments made of other synthetic fabrics. "[They're] not breathable, which increases the risk of moisture being trapped and retained, which can create a yeast or bacterial infection," she shared. Aleece Fosnight, medical advisor and urologist at Aeroflow Urology, added to Insider that non-cotton underwear can also increase the potential of developing a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). That can also be true for skimpier underwear, like thongs, as these kinds of undies can be known to trap bacteria down there and even push against genital tissue. Dr. Felice Gersh, an OB/GYN and founder of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, also explained to Bustle that the chances of contracting Bacterial Vaginosis and fungal infections can also be decreased by giving your intimate area the chance to air out.


You won't experience chafing from your underwear

It goes without saying that if you experience chafing while wearing underwear, removing them completely should clear up the problem. There are a number of reasons why your undergarments may cause chafing, with one of the most obvious being that they're just too tight or just don't quite fit right. "If your skin doesn't get irritated, then great — tight underwear won't hurt you. But if you do get irritated because of friction, then [tight underwear is] not recommended," Dr. Raquel B. Dardik, a clinical associate professor, told Hella Health.


But it's not just too tight or ill-fitting undies that have been known to cause chafing around the groin. For some people, chafing can actually be caused or made worse by too much moisture gathering around the genitals, such as excess sweat. The irritation can then happen as a result of sweat and friction from the underwear continually rubbing against the skin. "When you don't wear underwear, the vulva and buttock are completely unrestricted and free. The unrestricted vulva doesn't have any underwear or panty lines or fabric to add discomfort to this sensitive area," women's health expert Dr. Sherry Ross told HuffPost.

And your chances of an allergic reaction may decrease

Did you know some people may actually have an intolerance or be allergic to their underwear? And they may not even know it. Some undies are made from fabrics that some people may be irritated by, as well as containing dyes or chemicals that can aggravate such a sensitive, intimate area. As your underwear sits so close to the intimate area and your booty (which can also be sensitive), that can be a big problem for some people. Dr. Tim Mainardi of Hudson Allergy explained to Fox News that people who feel an unexplained irritation when wearing underwear should opt for garments made of natural fibers, like cotton, or go commando. While there's still the chance of irritation from your clothing when you don't wear undies (we wouldn't recommend going out without underwear or bottoms!) your pants, skirt, dress, or whatever else you're wearing won't be coming in quite as close contact with all of your intimate area.


But it may not be the underwear itself that's causing issues down there. It's also important to wash anything coming into close contact with that area properly, using suitable products for you and your body. "Some girls may benefit from a baby detergent or something hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and dye-free. All of those things can be irritating on whatever garments are touching their bottoms," gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck, co-author of "V is for Vagina," told Seventeen.

You may also avoid circulation problems

The term underwear, of course, isn't limited to things like panties or thongs. Many people also wear shapewear instead of traditional underwear — and they can cause some serious health issues of their own. Because shapewear can be very tight to create a smoother silhouette, it may actually result in circulation issues if worn on a regular basis. "If it's really tight, you could have nerve impingement and decreased circulation," Dr. Donnica Moore told Hella Health. But it's not just shapewear that can cause circulation problems if it's too tight. According to Dr. Kameelah Phillips, an OB/GYN who spoke to Bustle, regular underwear can also cause the issue if the pair you're wearing is too small for you.


But that's not all restricting undergarments can potentially do to the body. Hepatologist Dr. Jamile Wakim-Fleming told Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials that shapewear can — just like traditional underwear — also cause chaffing if it's worn for long periods of time. Shapewear has even been known to result in acid reflux in some people because of the way it can restrict the digestive tract due to its tight nature. 

Of course, wearing shapewear occasionally is absolutely fine for most people, as long as you wear the right size. Otherwise, going commando may be the better choice for you to keep your body healthy.

And no underwear could prevent or help get rid of ingrown hairs

Suffering from pesky ingrown hairs? Then waving goodbye to underwear, at least for a while, may be a good idea. Tight clothing and underwear that's made from synthetic fabrics (such as polyester) can often make ingrown hairs worse, according to Jessica Johnson, a Completely Bare brand ambassador who spoke to HuffPost. That's because tight underwear can rub against the hairs that grow down there, and potentially make any ingrown ones worse. That's because tight undies can cause a lack of circulation and can even press the hair down, which can result in the hair turning back in on itself and going under the skin.


But, equally, even loose-fitting underwear can also cause issues around the intimate area when it comes to ingrown hairs. That's because even loose undies can rub down there, too. That's why, if you're prone to getting ingrown hairs, you may be better off ditching underwear altogether until the problem has cleared.

But you might leave yourself open to other kinds of irritation

But it's not all benefits when it comes to leaving your underwear at home. Ditching undergarments may eliminate irritation caused by underwear — but that doesn't mean you're home-free. There's still the potential of your genitals becoming irritated by your clothing materials, which isn't great news when they aren't designed to come into such close contact with such an intimate area. Oftentimes, stiffer, thicker, materials (such as denim) can cause just as much, if not more, damage than the softer materials undergarments are usually made from. "This can cause problems such as chafing or skin irritation," Dr. Nini Mai, doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, told Well+Good about going commando. 


Going sans underwear could also result in your intimate area coming into contact with dirtier materials. Of course, it's recommended you wear a fresh pair of undies each day, but not everyone washes their pants, skirts, or other bottoms after each use. Clothing made of materials like wool can also be notoriously bad for going commando, as it can lead to small fibers getting caught in the genitals or pubic hair.

And the potential for intimate injuries can increase

Not wearing underwear may leave your genitals (and your booty!) open to more injuries. Particularly if you're wearing pants with a zipper, like jeans. When wearing underwear, there's an extra layer of protection between you and your pants, which means there's less of a chance you'll accidentally zip any skin or hair into your pants. Not to mention, you'll also be giving yourself a little extra modesty for those moments you forget your fly is down. Underwear can also offer just a little extra protection for when you're sitting on harder surfaces.


But that's not all you're risking when it comes to potential injuries. Dr. Donnica Moore told Health that your genitals could also be hurt by getting too close to your clothing fabric. "[The rubbing] can lead to very small nicks in the skin that act as portals for bacteria," she explained. This is particularly true for more course materials. Equally, that potentially rougher material can also be known to rub in an especially sensitive intimate place, particularly for vagina-owners, which can cause serious discomfort. "If you're wearing pants, the seam sits right in the vulval area and will constantly be rubbing the area," Dr. Raquel B. Dardik, a clinical associate professor, told Hella Health.


You may miss important signs about changes in your intimate health

People with vaginas can actually learn a lot of important information about their body by wearing underwear. That's because vaginal discharge, namely its color and consistency, can tell a person a lot about their intimate health. It can make vagina-owners aware of issues such as STIs or vaginal infections they may have developed or contracted. Wearing underwear means any discharge will be collected, and often visible, in the panties. That allows folks to get a good idea of what's considered normal for them — and what isn't.


Not wearing underwear may make it more difficult to see any discharge (as it won't be collected in one place), making it more difficult to be able to tell if something is wrong. "If this vaginal discharge changes from your 'normal,' or develops a new unpleasant smell, it could be a sign of an underlying problem," GP Dr. Rhianna McClymont told Livi.

You may notice more dampness down there

Going without underwear can also result in a damper feeling around the genitals. As Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OB/GYN and women's health expert, told Well+Good, having underwear absorb any extra moisture down there will help your body feel more comfortable. Board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones further explained why so many people feel drier when wearing underwear, telling Healthline, "The vulva is a very sensitive and delicate area, similar to the lips on your face. You want to treat [it] gently. Since it is healthy to have vaginal discharge — similar to the moisture you always have in your mouth — you want your underwear to gently absorb any extra moisture."


That's why underwear can be a particularly good idea when wearing clothing that's open around the intimate area. "If you are wearing dresses or skirts, there's nothing there to absorb vaginal moisture [without underwear]," Dr. Raquwl B. Dardick explained to Hella Health. The most important thing to consider when you're deciding whether or not to go commando, though? Do what's best for your body.