When you shop for underwear, what's the first thing you consider? Is it looks? The cut? How they feel? Or are you just at the store buying more because you don't feel like doing laundry?
Today, many of women don't consider the functionality of their underwear. Sure, there are plenty of sexy, lacy things on the market designed specifically for the art of seduction. But what about undies geared toward the well-being of the woman wearing it?
That's a question that Shira Wheeler, the founder of Oddo Body underwear, asked herself. Then she decided to create her own company that manufactures 100 percent cotton underwear (that also happen to be really, really cute). The reason? Many doctors recommend this particular material for full breathability, making it the optimal material for your vagina's health.
Which fabric should you choose?
According to Wheeler, you should avoid any fabric that has synthetic, silk, or elastic (not including the leg- and waistbands) content. These materials can prevent air and moisture flow between your vagina and the atmosphere, and that can increase your risk of yeast infections. The best thing for you is cotton " and don't settle for anything less than 100 percent. That means avoid cotton undies with five or even two percent elastane.
"The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, but in order for it to maintain a balanced biome, it needs to breathe," Wheeler says. "If you're covering your vulva with materials that trap or absorb moisture, you're basically creating a petri dish for bacteria to live."
Are thongs bad?
From bodycon dresses to skinny jeans, the need to eliminate panty lines is ever present " hence the lasting popularity of the thong (not to mention, Sisqo's 1999 hit song). But frequent thong wearers should beware.
"Some thongs " and all g-strings " are unhealthy because there is greater likelihood that they will move back and forth throughout the day," says Wheeler. "Again, the vagina is a sensitive biome and a G-string can transfer bacteria from the anus to the vagina as fabric shifts with wear."
To answer the question: thongs aren't necessarily bad, but they may carry more risk of infection with them.
How to care for your underwear
"I've heard from many people that their grandmothers (mine included) used to iron their underwear," Wheeler says. "We have better washing machines these days, but you should always machine wash your underwear [with] hot [water]." (Water needs to be 140-150 degrees to kill germs).
She recommends hand-washing Oddo Body's briefs, which are made from fine Japanese cotton, in warm water.
"It's important, when washing by hand, to use a delicate soap, avoid perfumes, and to pay special attention when cleaning the fabric that touches your vulva and anus," she says. "Once you've washed with soap, make sure that you've thoroughly rinsed the fabric of any soap."
So there you have it. While lacy thongs might look cute, 100% cotton granny panties are going to be there for you, healthwise. And thanks to creative people like Wheeler, we're starting to see more cotton panties on the market that are both good for your health AND easy on the eyes. Hopefully, next time you pick out your underwear, you'll think about your vagina " not just your outfit.