Is sleeping in underwear bad for you?
When I first called a gynaecologist to ask this question, she scoffed at me and asked whether I had more important things to write about.
I stuttered and attempted to justify my position. Of course she spends most of her time dealing with serious gynaecological problems so her response was understandable. But in my head, 'to wear or not to wear' was a matter of great importance and I bet five panty liners you've thought about it too. You cannot tell me that you've never thought about the health of your vagina. Should I treat it like a pot plant with just the right amount of light, air, warmth and shade? Is it right for my genitals to be covered by a garment day in, day out?
When she was a mere slip of a thing a friend's Grandmother told her plain and simple, "the undercarriage needs to breathe." And like sands through the hourglass, she now tells her children not to wear underpants to bed.
I know there are many of you who never break the no underpants rule. Without the safety of a covered crutch you feel unsafe, exposed and unable to slumber. This doesn't necessarily mean you're uptight.
There are sensible reasons for donning the daks at night. One confidante lived in Japan and wanted to be prepared for an earthquake. Another woke up with a burglar in her house and decided from then on she would always wear undergarments at night.
One friend had a lover who insisted that she put clean white ironed underpants on after sex. Insisted. That's a whole other column.
Now numbers never lie so I'm going to get a little Financial Review on this little theory of mine.
If you wear underpants all day and all night that's 168 hours of cloth on flesh each week:
Let's take away 25 minutes per day for a shower, a walk from the bathroom to the bedroom and three toilet stops.
All up that's a mere two hours and 55 minutes of genital freedom per week.
Deep in conversation with my friend Sonja about the politics of vaginas she cried " ALI! Your vagina is not a mouth. It doesn't need air. You don't breathe through it". Then she had the gall to hashtag me. #science.
To settle the argument I contacted gynaecologist Dr Jennifer Bradford for her medical opinion on whether wearing underpants all day and all night was good for your vagina.
Here's what she had to say:
"Wearing underpants can make the vulval environment even hotter. In women who are prone to heat and/or sweat rashes, this can cause vulval irritations."
"Very little is known about the mechanisms which keep a woman's vagina in good health. However, we have anecdotal evidence that wearing occlusive garments increases the chances of vaginal problems such as thrush
"This is why we all need "more air down there".
Thank you Dr Bradford.
Whilst I'm not a fire twirling, chai tent, thrash round your cervix under the full moon type, I am a proponent of the "air down there" theory.
This is not an invitation to do a naked salute to the sun on the beach in the morning. Sure that unique vista might make Bondi Rescue more interesting but you're likely to get arrested.
Women already spend too much time, pruning, waxing, plucking, shaping and bleaching, so please don't get in a flap about your bits. But for all you religious night time panty wearers, throw them off occasionally and see how it feels. It could just be the change you were looking for.
- Daily Life