Diplo Your Underwear Might Be Causing Serious Infections, Gynecologist Warns

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While lacy lingerie may look elegant, its effects on our nether regions can be much less glamorous. In fact, as of 2014, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have all effectively banned the sale and importation of lace underwear over hygiene concerns. But how bad is lace underwear, really?
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Your favorite pair of underwear could be putting you at risk of serious vaginal infections.

Newsweek spoke to gynecologist Melanie Bone to find out.

“Lace and other non-breathable synthetic underwear can trap heat and moisture against the vulva and vagina,” Bone, the U.S. medical director at the gynecological health company Daye, told Newsweek. “This warm, moist environment allows bacteria and yeast to overgrow, potentially leading to infections.”

“The most common infections caused or exacerbated by non-breathable underwear are yeast infections (such as thrush), bacterial vaginosis and contact dermatitis,” she added.

Some people may be particularly vulnerable to these infections. “Those most vulnerable are people with sensitive skin, frequent infections, diabetes or compromised immunity,” Bone said.

So should we all ban lacy underwear? “While I don’t think an outright ban on lace underwear is warranted or feasible in the U.S., I do believe we need much more public education about breathable undergarments and vaginal health,” Bone said. “Many women and assigned female at birth individuals are unaware of the link between underwear and infections.”

She added: “In addition to lace and polyester, I caution patients to avoid underwear containing harsh dyes and chemicals like PFAs. Found in some period panties, PFAs are endocrine-disrupting ‘forever chemicals’ linked to hormonal imbalances and even cancer.”

Of course, not all lace undergarments are created equal. “In general, the more synthetic and less breathable the lace, the higher the infection risk,” Bone said. “Some lace has cotton lining in the crotch, which is better than 100 percent synthetic lace. But for optimal vaginal health, I advise my patients to save the lace lingerie for special occasions only.”

But what sort of underwear should we be wearing every day? “For everyday, organic cotton, bamboo or hemp are ideal,” Bone said. “When a patient wants to feel sexy but also stay healthy, I recommend silk or bamboo underwear and lingerie. These natural materials are breathable but also smooth and luxurious.”

To find out the early warning signs for vaginal infections, check out our article on the vaginal symptoms you should never ignore.

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