In this brave, new, illness-ridden world, I have a lot of questions. Some of them are existential: Will life ever go back to normal again? And some are more trivial: How often should I change my underwear in quarantine?
It may sound weird, but the latter is an honest ask. There seems to be no official “beginning” or “end” to my days anymore. I’m not going into the office, the gym, or coming home to sweatpants at the end of a long day — markers that would ordinarily signal me to change from one pair of pants to the next. My cycling of lingerie has been totally disrupted. This made me wonder if I was keeping close enough tabs on my thong changes. Or if I really even needed to be wearing any underwear at all?
As it turns out, whether you’re in self-quarantine or not, how often you need to change your underwear depends on your level of activity, according to Christine Greves, MD, OB/GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.
If you're just working from home or chilling on your couch, putting on a fresh pair of skivvies each morning is probably sufficient, Dr. Greves says. If you wear pants to bed, you may want to switch into a fresh pair before you hit the hay for hygiene purposes.
If you’re more active, though, that number goes up. “For example, if you’re performing a lot of workout videos online, perhaps to relieve stress, that would likely result in your undergarments becoming moist and sweaty,” Dr. Greves says. “When that happens, you should change your underwear. Or if you’re going outside frequently and therefore sweating more... If you notice your underwear is wet, change.”
The reason you want to avoid wet undies is because they can contribute to yeast infections, which can cause irritation, itchiness, and irregular discharge. (That would just be the cherry on top of quarantining, am I right?) Vaginal candidiasis (a.k.a. yeast) thrives in damp environments. Plus, wet undies, like yeast infections, are totally uncomfortable.
If you're currently anxiously trying to remember if you changed your underwear this morning or not, don't stress about it too much. "Vaginal health is more going to be determined by diet, hygiene habits, and sexual practices than underwear changes," explains Tosha Rogers, MD, an OB/GYN in Atlanta.
After hearing from Dr. Rogers and Dr. Greves, I realized there’s also another intriguing option when it comes to self-isolation underwear decorum: taking the Winnie the Pooh approach. You could, you know, just not wear them.
“Not wearing underwear is okay, depending on the clothing you have on,” Dr. Greves says. “If you’re wearing loose-fitting pajamas or something comfortable, not wearing them should be fine and allow your private parts to breathe.” Skinny jeans? Not so much.
So, unless you’re one of those people wearing denim while working from home, feel free to go commando. But when you've got no underpants on, the rules above apply to your outer-pants: Start fresh every morning, and change after working out.
But in general, why not enjoy the feeling of freedom — and the lighter laundry loads — that comes with ditching your underwear? We need all the simple joys we can get right now.