This Is What Experts Say Happens To Your Body When You Go Commando

Today, there’s a vast array of underwear on the market. Indeed, it comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and fabrics for men and women. But some people like to go without. And what’s more, some experts in areas of personal health are making a case for ditching the panties or briefs to go commando.

Underwear is a pretty versatile clothing. Perhaps it serves a functional purpose like keeping warm, maintaining dignity or holding everything in place. But it can also be a powerful tool in the art of seduction. For the most part, though, it’s a fairly mundane item, not least because it’s rarely seen by anyone except intimate partners.

History suggests that thousands of years ago, the loincloth was an early underwear design. It was like an adult diaper and was made out of animal skin. For instance, when Ötzi the Iceman was unearthed in the Alps in 1991, he was wearing goatskin briefs underneath fur pants. He’s thought to have lived over five millennia ago.

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Tutankhamun, too, favored loincloths around 3,500 years later. He was mummified with nearly 150 backup garments, thought to have been in preparation for his next life. For the poor in Egypt, however, these items weren’t just underwear. Rather, they sometimes made up their whole outfit. Meanwhile, women in ancient Rome were pairing unisex briefs with a bandeau-style top.

In more recent history, women took to wearing smocks underneath heavy dresses in medieval times. However, it’s not thought that they had any use for panties. Recent renovations to a 15th-century castle in Austria turned up a precursor to the modern-day bra. The discovery was surprising to researchers, who believed the undergarment only dated to the 1900s.

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Lingerie fashion grew more adventurous by the 16th century. Royalty throughout Europe were reaching for silk stockings, thinking as much about comfort and aesthetics as the garment’s function. Indeed, Elizabeth I of England is thought to have said in the 1560s, “I like silk stockings so well, because they are pleasant, fine and delicate, that henceforth I will wear no more cloth stockings.”

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Woolen undergarments were the norm for everyone else, because they simply couldn’t afford the luxury of silk. However, the male elite were getting in on the stocking game, too. The garments would sit high at the waist and were tailored to enhance their bulge, even including a codpiece. For women, though, underwear remained far from flattering.

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It was around this time, too, that clothing started playing a role in hygiene. For instance, men would adjust their shirts around their private parts as a defense against disease. You see, it was believed at the time that bathing would cause water to infiltrate the skin and spread bacteria causing illness.

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Men’s boxer shorts supposedly date back as far as King Charles II in the late 17th century. Control underwear – or corsetry – was first used by men and women in the 1700s. However, it was a practice that, in drastic instances, caused physical harm to women vying for tiny waists and round hips.

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But fashion evolves, and corsets made way for two-piece knickerbocker and brassiere sets. And it’s perhaps this design that morphed into the designs we know today. Nevertheless, trends of the past are still visible in raunchier designs – like suspenders – and functional garments – like Spanx. But have you ever considered a life free from all of underwear’s sometimes uncomfortable restrictions?

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After all, we’re conditioned to believe that underwear is essential. It’s a routine part of putting on an outfit that we’re taught from childhood. Having said that, there are practical arguments to consider. For instance, there are natural bodily fluids secreted down there, which could become visible on your clothes. This is particularly true for women going through their monthly cycle.

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Cindy Barshop established the reproductive health clinic VSPOT Medi-Spa. Speaking as an expert, she told women’s interest website Bustle, “The choice to wear no undergarment is a personal one that really depends on what you’re wearing and what your preferences are. The timing of your cycle, if there’s any discharge, and the soil [level] of [your] clothing are the factors to take into account when deciding if you’re going to wear underwear.”

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Now, Barshop recommends cotton underwear over synthetic materials. However, there’s a case to be made for going without. And what may be surprising is that the arguments are not all based on comfort. Indeed, obstetricians, gynecologists and sexual health experts can give you reasons it might be a good idea to ditch those panties or briefs.

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Comfort, of course, is a potential bonus when it comes to going without underwear. For instance, modern undergarments are sometimes designed for aesthetics rather than practicalities. As New York City-based OB/GYN Dr. Kameelah Phillips says, “If you wear tight underwear or thong underwear, skipping underwear can be more comfortable on your body.” Bunched fabric and seams can work their way into awkward places.

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Underwear is not typically made to measure. And since people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, a one-size-fits-all solution can make nether-clothing an irritation with pinching and chafing. As Phillips explains, “You will notice imprints in the skin and around the inner thigh. Major circulation issues aren’t common, because the discomfort is enough to make you take them off.”

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Certain activities, too, may cause increased discomfort. For instance, workouts can create more friction between underwear and skin with moisture and sweat becoming trapped in the fabric. Going commando at the gym, then, could be beneficial. However, if you’re not brave enough, Phillips says, underwear “should be immediately removed after working out. Staying in wet underwear for a prolonged amount of time can [lead to] yeast infections.”

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The risks of infection apply as much to men as women. Bacteria and fungus thrives in warm and damp conditions. One in particular is tinea cruris – more commonly known as jock itch – which results in irritation around the crotch. Ditching the underwear allows for increased ventilation, keeping the area dry and not too warm, particularly after an intense workout session.

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However, the fungus that causes jock itch affects women, too. As OB/GYN Dr. Felice Gersh explained, “Panties can contain heat and moisture and place the vulvar tissues at increased risk of developing a fungal infection called tinea cruris.” What’s more, the itching it causes can be incredibly uncomfortable. Allowing air to circulate can reduce the chances of it forming.

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Moreover, if you have an infection, it might clear up quicker if you lose the underwear. As Barshop described, “Allowing the air to hit this area is important because it stops the moisture trapped by our underwear from causing a yeast infection and skin irritation externally.” So if you have an uncomfortable itch, consider giving it some air.

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Indeed, underwear, particularly when made of synthetic fabrics, can foster the very conditions that cause bacteria to thrive. As Phillips stated, “Going commando lets the labia and vagina spend more time away from underwear fabric.” Allowing air to circulate the nether regions reduces moisture and lowers the chances of creating an infection.

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The thought of abandoning your underwear during the day can be daunting. So, why not get used to the idea by letting it all hang out at night? As Barshop explained, it will mean the region can “breathe.” As you get more comfortable going without undergarments, consider taking it in small steps out of the bedroom before heading into the wider world.

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Certain types of underwear, too, could increase the spread of infections if they materialize. As Barshop advised, “Thongs are a no-no. [They aid] in bacterial transfer from the anal area into the vaginal area.” What’s more, it might not make any difference if you’ve showered. So, if you prefer not to risk a visible panty line, ditch them completely.

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Underwear is unlikely to cause infections for most people if they don’t already have them regularly. However, if you’re someone who is susceptible to high amounts of discharge, perhaps consider the benefits of going commando. You see, if the fabric of undergarments gathers around sensitive areas, moisture can build up creating the conditions that bacteria loves.

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As Gersh explained, “The average woman need not fear wearing underwear. Nevertheless, if a woman for some reason is always extremely damp, or actually quite wet on the vulva and perineal area (skin of the vulva by the bladder and vaginal opening) then not wearing underwear while wearing a loose, long dress may help. Simply skipping underwear, but wearing [fitted] pants, would serve no purpose.”

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What’s more, going panty-less may help prevent unwanted smells. By allowing warmth and sweat to get some air, it can help to eliminate strong odors. For instance, losing undergarments will help sweat to dry out, prevent smells becoming too strong, as well as decreasing the scratchiness that can occur from dampness.

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There can be hidden hazards in just-washed underwear, too. You see, even if you think your laundry is clean, it may contain chemicals from the detergent and fabric softener. According to Phillips, these elements can aggravate the skin in such a sensitive area. So, giving your nether regions a break might be a good idea.

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However, such a choice may be dependent on your chosen outfit. As Phillips explained, “Wearing underwear protects your labia from direct contact with clothes that can be abrasive, have dyes, or chemicals that can irritate you.” You see, the same laundry detergents will be present on any clothing that comes into contact with your private parts.

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However, by removing that one additional layer of clothing, you’d be giving your body more protection. Now, lots of clothing contains unnatural chemicals, dyes and fabrics that might initiate an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis. The result could be irritation, rashes, bumps or even blisters, with severe cases resulting in infections or harm to tissue. Going commando means reducing the chances of a reaction.

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For women, the labia is an incredibly sensitive area. The tissue is, in fact, quite like what the lips are made of, and just as delicate. It’s quite easy, then, for the fabrics and styles of underwear to cause damage. By abandoning undergarments, particularly while wearing roomy clothing, the risk of injury is significantly reduced.

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And don’t think these benefits apply entirely to women. Indeed, men may gain even more advantages from ditching their briefs or boxers. The reasons for this are due to the unique makeup of the male reproductive organs. And while the same warnings for discomfort, irritation and infections apply, there are additional health reasons for men to go commando.

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You see, protecting your manhood from irritation can increase sperm production. The reason testicles hang outside the body is because their optimal temperature is slightly cooler than the rest of the body. If the temperature isn’t quite right, sperm production may be affected. And restrictive underwear might inadvertently cause temperatures to rise.

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You see, the body’s temperature is generally somewhere between 97 °F and 99 °F. Testicles, however, should be 94 °F. If underwear presses too tightly, temperatures can rise and bring about testicular hyperthermia. If this happens for too long it could lower the sperm count and some think it could even lead to infertility, though more research is necessary for a conclusive verdict.

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Moreover, the idea that a partner isn’t wearing underwear can be a turn-on. As sex and relationship coach Jennifer Doan explained to Bustle, “The catch is, it only works if you think it’s sexy. If you’re not 100 percent into it, or you’re just doing it for the benefit of your partner, not only will it not feel sexy, it will feel completely awkward and uncomfortable.”

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So, then, there’s a strong case for losing those briefs. However, it isn’t an antidote for all issues in the nether regions. And there are also some basic rules that should be followed if it’s a path you choose to tread. These precautionary notes may seem like common sense, but they’re important to genital health.

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For instance, it’s probably not a good idea to go commando on a clothes shopping spree. It’s possible that you could dirty the clothes you try on in a store. What’s more, you don’t know who else has tried those garments on before you, and therefore open yourself up to a risk of infection.

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Tight clothes from your own wardrobe should also be avoided. They can cause irritation to your sensitive areas. And because they’re not designed to sit against private parts, they can be particularly harsh. Tight-fitting clothing can pose a risk of causing yeast infections, especially if they don’t offer good ventilation.

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If you go commando, you should think about how often you switch outfits and launder them. Repeatedly wearing the same item of clothing can harbor the bacteria natural to the genitals. So, clothes that have come into contact with your sensitive area should be worn only as often as you would underwear. That is, only once.

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There are, then, benefits to going commando, which some gynecologists may support. As OB/GYN and author Dr. Sherry A. Ross explained to health website Well And Good in March 2020, “The unrestricted vagina doesn’t have any underwear or panty lines or fabric to add discomfort to this sensitive area. In addition to comfort there is no buildup of heat and moisture which can increase the risk of a vaginal infection.”

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While there’s nothing scientific to support any medical benefits, going commando may suit some people. For others, appropriate underwear should be worn. For instance, undergarments should be made of cotton and provide enough room to allow air to circulate. This should reduce any chances of infection or bacterial growth in the area.

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Going commando, however, won’t be for everyone. But if you want to give it a go, it could be worth easing into it gently. Perhaps you could start by trying it out at home or just at night while you’re sleeping? And if you get comfortable with it, dare to adopt the commando lifestyle.

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