What Kinds of Panties Are Healthy for Women?

When you're choosing underwear, style shouldn't be your only concern. Some types of panties are just plain better for you than others, and it largely depends on the circumstances in which you're wearing them. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you wear panties that don't leave you at risk for uncomfortable health complications.

Cotton, full-coverage panties are the healthiest choice. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

The Importance of Panties

Generally, wearing panties is better for you than not wearing panties. If you don't wear underwear, it can leave you exposed to infections, especially when you're on your period. When you are wearing a tampon, you're especially susceptible to allowing bacteria in, Lisa Masterson, an ob-gyn at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, tells Cosmopolitan magazine. Wearing underwear can provide protection. The trick to choosing the right panties for you depends on both the style and the material.

Comfort of Cotton

For regular, everyday use, nothing beats a pair of cotton panties -- this soft, comfortable material is good for your health and hygiene. Because of its breathability, light weight and soft texture, cotton is ideal for regular use and even relatively stationary exercise, like lifting or doing yoga. The only time when another material may be better is when you engage in heavier exercise like running, which makes you sweat -- cotton soaks up sweat, which makes it heavy and can give you a rash. Moisture-wicking materials made from polyester or nylon draw sweat away from the body, keeping you cooler and more comfortable while staving off rashes.

Avoiding Dangerous Panties

Some panties aren't necessarily healthy for you to wear, especially in certain situations. One of the most notable culprits is the thong, which eliminates visible panty lines but can cause health problems. Because of their unique shape, thongs make it easy for bacteria to travel from your anus to your vagina, which can lead to conditions like a urinary tract infection. You can still wear them, of course, but certain times -- like when you're exercising or on an especially sweaty day -- the risk of complications is higher.

Consider the Situation

The key to choosing healthy panties is to consider the situation and make a choice that feels right. For example, when you're exercising, the healthiest panty is made from a moisture-wicking material and gives you full coverage. If you're just out and about, cotton is arguably the best material. Sometimes, the healthiest pair of panties is none at all -- sleeping without any panties prevents moisture from building up overnight, which can cause a rash or even a yeast infection.

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