This post was originally published in November of 2018, and now updated 12/2019.
There is no such thing as TMI in gynecology. If you are squeamish about talking about or SAYING the word VAGINA, we are going to handle that right now.
Okay, now that that is out of the way, many women see me because of recurrent vaginal irritation. I’m talking about itching, irritation, odor, and just overall heightened awareness of their vagina. Some women may have a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis or urinary tract infections once in a blue moon. Others may find themselves with irritating symptoms every month, every other month or more.
How do I keep infections of the vagina, like yeast infections, away?
For clarity, I am speaking about spontaneous vaginal infections, not sexually transmitted infections. There are many ways a person can prevent or decrease the risk of STIs. Check out THIS post about the types of sexually transmitted infections one can contract and how to avoid them.
Unfortunately, yeast and BV aren’t as easy to prevent as STIs. Condoms won’t necessarily keep these random infections away. Some believe in a low sugar diet, probiotics, and dietary additions like yogurt. Boric acid is also a natural remedy that can be used to keep symptoms at bay when they creep up. But what else can you do to decrease the frequency of symptoms?
Disclaimer: The following recommendation comes without scientific evidence. Most things you’ll see recommended from The Gyneco-bLogic are supported by studies and evidence. The recommendations in this post are anecdotal and based on years of experience, both personal and professional. Be assured that the recommendations are safe and will not cause harm.
This one goes out to my grandma Willie Mae.
The question I have for you is, do you sleep in underwear?
If you do, I would challenge you to spend some nights, if not every night, without panties on. Giving air an opportunity to circulate down there can definitely improve and decrease the frequency of irritation. This recommendation is based on the fact that moisture and heat can allow more bacterial and fungal overgrowth.
The same theory is what makes you change out of sweaty clothing after exercise, to change moist pads or panty liners often, or to remove wet swimsuits quickly. At night, heat and moisture can also collect between the legs and increase infection risk.
What do you suggest I sleep in, Doc?
You can sleep in just pajamas, loose boxers, or hell, go crazy- Go COMMANDO. I personally am a huge fan of boxer shorts. Not boxer briefs, but light boxer shorts. They give the feeling of containment, catching any possible discharge while still allowing air to circulate. I also have children, so sleeping in the buff when any moment some little person may be in my room asking to go to the potty or reflecting on a bad dream gives me anxiety.
The boxers I personally use are these:
While the exact brand doesn’t matter, what I like about these are the short leg length, the loose fit and the thin material. If you click on the picture it’ll take you to Amazon and you’ll find that these are men’s boxers. Many of the women’s underwear in this category are more like fitted boy shorts. They are super cute, but don’t solve the aeration problem.
I was also recently introduced to Lucky Skivvies.
“Gender-neutral boxer briefs! They are super stylish and comfortable. Made with 95% cotton and 5% spandex, our Skivvies are designed for breathing and staying in place. Welcome to your freedom of expression!”
I tried them, and I LOVE THEM. They are comfortable, tagless, and breathable. This statement is not sponsored and I am not an affiliate either. I just like to support cool stuff. Get you some Lucky Skivvies.
Benefits of wearing boxers to prevent yeast infections, at least while sleeping. (Opinion)
1. In general, you should expect less moisture build-up even during the day.
2. Panty lines through your clothes are basically not cool.
3. Discharge volume seems less. This may be because discharge dries or doesn’t collect in such a concentrated area. If you are someone with a lot of discharge, maybe start with wearing boxers on the weekend to see if either discharge decreases or if it is at least contained within the boxers.
4. There are some theories that women with recurrent yeast can harbor yeast overgrowth in their underwear, even after washing. With boxers, since the fabric isn’t so closely associated with the vaginal area, the risk of reinfection should be less.
In summary, Grandma told me that “‘She’ needs to breathe.”
Women are often searching for natural remedies and prevention from infections. There are plenty of evidence-based do’s and don’ts. There are plenty of remedies and practices that don’t have scientific evidence based on study data but, are worth a try and won’t hurt. Consider this a part of that category.
And remember, I’m not just the president, I’m also a client. Lol.
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Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified OBGYN. She began practicing medicine in 2007 and now uses her extensive knowledge and growing following to increase health awareness in a fun and viral way. She is the founder of The Gyneco-blogic and an author of numerous books for adult and childhood health education and social growth. For more, check me, I mean her out at dreverywoman.com