Gynecologists often recommend slipping off your panties while you sleep, as a way to let your vulva breathe (and potentially reduce your risk of infections). Yet only 18 percent of women actually follow this advice, according to a new Brazilian study. “I often tell my patients to sleep without underwear, and some of them look at me like I have three heads,” says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., co-author of V is for Vagina. “They’re concerned about vaginal discharge—that you’re supposed to have a barrier. Wearing no underwear might seem kind of gross to them.”
But it’s actually a smart idea to ditch your undies at night, since your lady parts are naturally moist, dark, and hairy. “If [the area] is constantly covered—especially by a fabric that’s not moisture-wicking or absorbent—moisture collects,” says Dweck. “That’s a perfect breeding ground for bacteria or yeast.” That’s why she recommends going commando at least some of the time, especially if you’re frequently plagued by infections below the belt.
Can’t imagine sleeping sans panties? Choose a loose-fitting cotton pair (no spandex or Lycra!), or borrow a pair of comfy boxers from your guy. “If there’s ever a time to break out the granny panties, this would be the time,” says Dweck.
You can air things out during the day too—without necessarily going commando: If you constantly wear pantyliners (you never know when your period might show up!), give those a rest, since the material isn’t very breathable. And consider cutting the crotch out of your pantyhose to make them less restricting to your lady parts, Dweck suggests. (Really—it works!)