Thongs have a bad reputation when it comes to vaginal health, but a lot of what people assume to be true about this type of underwear may not actually be based on scientific fact. Some women swear by thongs because they find them more comfortable, because they do not leave panty lines in tight clothing, or because they simply like how they look — but many of us have had it beaten into our heads that thongs should be a sometimes-not-always clothing item because they increase the risk of irritation or infection. Scientific studies have shown, however, that this is not necessarily the case.
According to Healthline, studies have proven that thongs do not actually directly cause yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV), or urinary tract infections (UTIs), the three most common vaginal infections. In fact, a study from 2005 that dealt directly with string underwear found that “the microenvironment of the vulvar skin didn’t change at all due to the style of underwear. The underwear had no effect on the pH, skin microclimate, or aerobic microflora.” In other words, wearing thongs did not directly impact the health of one’s vagina. Instead, the studies concluded that sexual behavior and hygiene choices were responsible for changes that lead to these common infections.
How to stay healthy while wearing thongs
Now that you know thongs are not necessarily the death sentence for a healthy hoo-ha that we thought they were, good old Cosmopolitan has some great tips to make sure you are wearing them in a way that even further reduces risk of discomfort or infection. First, like any other shape of underwear, material matters. Cotton is the safest and smartest material where it comes to your panties, as it’s breathable, natural, and the least prone to messing with your pH. Also, it’s best if you don’t wear thongs in certain situations, like if you have been sick (especially with a gastrointestinal illness) or during a workout.
In the first case, your immune system is compromised and you are more likely to be passing infection-causing bacteria into your underwear if you have had a tummy illness. With regard to working out, you want to wear something that provides full coverage because the thong can trap sweat more closely to your vaginal area, potentially encouraging the growth of harmful organisms. Further, all the motions could pull the thong back to front over and over again, which, as we learned when we were young, goes against the “wipe front to back” basic rule of hygiene. It’s also important to note that, if you already have a vaginal infection, it’s best to wait to retire your thong until you are back to normal.
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