Intimate health specialists have revealed the secret to maintaining a healthy vagina could be down to your underwear choice.
British cosmetic doctor Dr Shirin Lakhani of Elite Aesthetics told FEMAIL it is vital to change undergarments every 12 months because the material comes into such close contact with intimate parts of your body.
The specialist said there is some research suggesting a washing machine won’t always clean all of the bacteria such as E.coli off of the underwear, adding: ‘It is ‘both the healthy naturally-occurring bacteria that we all have, as well as more sinister bacteria that can be a result of infections such as thrush and STIs.’
Meanwhile Stephanie Taylor, who is an intimate health expert and managing director of a pelvic healthcare company Kegel8, revealed some women should opt to go commando while sleeping or exercising in order to maintain a healthy vagina.
Here, they reveal how underwear can impact your health – and what steps need to be taken to ensure your pants remain healthy…
REPLACE PANTS EVERY 12 MONTHS
Wash bras ever four wears and replace after a year
Advising how often you should be washing your bras, Dr Lakhani said they should be washed every three-four wears at 30 degrees in order ‘to avoid the bra from shrinking or damaging the delicate fabric.’
‘Your bra is in close contact with your skin, your nipples and very close to your armpits for prolonged periods of time.
‘As a result it comes into contact with a lot of dead skin from these areas, as well as sweat.’
Dr Lakhani added: ‘Similarly, nipples can leak fluid (especially after childbirth), and so in order to avoid a build-up of bacteria which can result in body acne and breakouts, I would advise washing bras after every three-four wears (more than this for breastfeeding mothers).’
She continued: ‘The bra is designed to be worn to support the delicate tissues and muscles of the breast and so over time and frequent washing the fabric sags and reduces in effectiveness.
‘For both of these reasons I would advise replacing bras every year.’
Dr Lakhani said that it doesn’t matter whether women preferred pants, thongs or briefs, but that you should replace your underwear yearly.
She said: ‘The crucial thing is that whatever style of underwear it is still a breeding ground for bacteria which even washing in a washing machine won’t always rid it completely from.’
Dr Lakhani added that while most bacteria found in underwear doesn’t cause harm, there are ‘some that over time’ may cause problems ‘in delicate areas…such as urinary tract infections, irritations and abnormal discharge.’
SELECT ‘SOFT’ MATERIALS FOR EVERYDAY WEAR
According to Stephanie Taylor, who is an intimate health expert and managing director of a pelvic healthcare company Kegel8, said choosing specific materials could help maintain a healthy vagina.
She said: ‘When making your next purchase of pants, look beyond the cut, fashion and colour and consider how the material will affect your skin.
‘Rough and scratchy materials can cause rubbing and discomfort, so softer materials are a better choice.
‘Lacy or mesh pants are cute for a special occasion, but you shouldn’t be wearing these on the daily.
‘Silk-blends and satins may look pretty but opting for a breathable material such as cotton will reduce risk of infection since moisture is not trapped.’
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE
Stephanie explained that finding the right fit for underwear is not only important for comfort, but can also be helpful for maintaing a healthy vagina.
She said: ‘If you are wearing the wrong pant size and they fit just a little too snug, it can not only interfere with your daily comfort and confidence, but can also harm your vaginal health.
‘Fabric that is too tight on your skin can trap in heat and moisture and cause an imbalance in your vagina’s PH levels.
‘Tight underwear can also rub on your skin and lead to chafing. Irritation along the sensitive area of skin is not only uncomfortable but can also lead to painful ingrown hairs.
‘If your pants are leaving marks on your skin, then it’s time to consider going up a size to avoid possible infections.’
Intimate health specialist Dr Shirin Lakhani told FEMAIL that bras should be replaced every year as they come into close contact with nipples and armpits and therefore dead skin and sweat from these areas, while pants should also be replaced every year (stock image)
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO COMMANDO
Meanwhile Stephanie revealed that women shouldn’t be afraid to go underwear-free, saying: ‘Generally, if you have a healthy vagina, going commando will neither positively nor negatively affect vaginal health, so it’s entirely down to personal preference.’
She explained that it can actually be more healthy for some women to go commando in certain situations, revealing: ‘If you are more prone to vaginal infections, it’s probably a good idea to avoid wearing underwear to bed since this reduces the amount of time genitalia is exposed to bacteria and minimises moisture build-up.’
She continued: ‘Some experts recommend going commando while you exercise, since bacteria thrives in a warm and damp environment.
‘Damp underwear can also cause uncomfortable chafing, so consider this when weighing up whether to leave the knickers at home while you work out.
‘If you decide you would be more comfortable wearing underwear, always remove and wash the item after every workout.’