We recently chatted with Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, a gynecologist at NYU Langone Health, about clean underwear and best practices for nurturing our flora and fauna. At KENT, every pair of underwear comes with a birth date and gentle annual reminder to let you know when it’s time to cleanse your drawer.
Why do we stick to the golden rule of one year? Keep on scrolling!
Know when to replace old underwear
“I can’t say there is a medical evidence-based timeframe, but changing over our underwear every one to two years is a good habit because underwear is used so much. I see this as part of really treating your body well,” Dr. Taraneh shares with us in a recent Instagram Live.
Although there’s no stated expiration date, your underwear drawers are definitely worth a revisit once or even twice a year. Bacteria can accumulate over time, even if it’s properly laundered! You might not see it, but it’s there. It’s important to refresh your underwear drawers to avoid excessive bacteria to prevent the buildup of moisture that can lead to skin irritations or a yeast infection.
If the underwear is no longer comfortable, you should definitely get rid of it. Look out for frayed threads, tears, or if it starts to feel too tight or loose.
What to look for in your briefs? Choose underwear that fits well, that’s comfortable, that’s not frayed, and doesn’t have open ridges or edges.
Minimize irritation, maximize comfort
Choose natural fabrics, specifically cotton (the best choice for your underwear). The vulva is a sensitive and delicate area that can be susceptible to chafing and skin irritation but the smoothness and breathability of cotton can protect the area and prevent it from happening.
Even fully clothed, your vagina needs ventilation. This can prevent odor, irritation and infection caused by the buildup of bacteria.
Our vaginas are amazing and self-cleaning. With this, it’s best to choose underwear that will absorb any extra moisture that’s expelled. Synthetic materials (nylon, spandex, polyester), especially in the crotch lining, will trap heat and moisture which can result in higher risk of yeast infections. Better absorbency will adapt to your body temperature, keep you comfortable and prevent itching.
Choosing organic cotton matters
According to Dr. Taraneh, we should be the most simple and gentle materials on our skin - opting for those that are free from chemicals so that the product can effectively deliver on its benefits and prevent rashes or developing allergies in the long run.
Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton is much more durable, holds its shape over time, has enough stretch to contour over the body and gets softer with wear.
Better for the environment
Organic cotton is farmed through eco-friendly farming practices avoiding the use of toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetic modifications.
Better for your health
Our skin absorbs whatever we put on our body, meaning that all those herbicides, pesticides and synthetic chemicals used in conventionally farmed crops can be absorbed through the skin. Organic cotton is naturally hypoallergenic and so, there’s no need to worry about coming into contact with chemicals linked to health issues.
Nurture your flora and fauna
To help reduce the risk of urinary tract and other infections, here are some best practices to incorporate into your care routine:
Choose scent and synthetic-free
Some major no-nos include douching and washing with scented products. Dr. Taraneh recommends investing in safer, more natural (organic cotton) tampons, pads and even probiotics, eating healthy, limiting sugar and exercising to heal the vagina from the inside out. Also, to use products that are certified clean, natural, simple and do not contain many harsh chemicals or fragrances.
Make sure to wear a fresh set before going to bed at night or after a shower, instead of the pair you’ve worn all day. Just like changing out of sweaty gym clothes, changing into a fresh pair of underwear keeps things clean.
Get regular check-ups
Don’t forget to schedule an annual checkup at the OB-GYN to ensure everything is healthy down there. Plus, learn the signs of when you should get something looked at.
Wear cotton underwear
Dr. Taraneh recommends wearing cotton undies because they’re breathable and don’t allow moisture to build up so easily, which can potentially result in an infection. Synthetic fabrics, like nylon and spandex, even when blended with cotton, trap moisture and don’t dry easily which boosts your chances of getting irritation and risk of infection.
Our goal is to maintain homeostasis or an even body environment, as described by Dr. Taraneh, means opting for products that are clean, simple and natural and forgoing a lot of excess. We don’t need excess chemicals or dyes on the products we use, especially if they’re not needed.
KENT underwear is made with only the essentials: organic cotton pima and plant-based elastic. Dr. Taraneh comments that she loves how our briefs are compostable, safe and good for the environment, “it’s another hugely important area of every product that we buy that we need to be thinking of [the health of] our planet and our world”.
“We underestimate how important underwear is. People often don’t turn over their underwear, we throw a bunch of underwear into a drawer and it sits there, we don’t really think about it.” Dr. Taraneh comments about our relationship with underwear. A lot of the issues she sees in the office stem from vaginal complaints, from irritation, discharge and discomfort. She believes that many of these issues can be solved by paying attention to the underwear we choose to wear and washing it in a gentle detergent so as to not develop extra issues.
What are your favorite tips or products for keeping your flora and fauna healthy? Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.