This Is What Happens When You Wear Underwear That's Too Small

Despite some underwear being marketed as "intimate," it is a surprisingly public thing. Everyone has an opinion on the underwear of others, from the outline of it through tight clothes to the kind of underwear a person must wear based on their clothes.

These opinions are, for the most part, subjective. Even with the publication of underwear etiquette in papers like The Daily Collegian, the underwear a person chooses to wear is up to their own tastes and preferences. Certain aspects, like a person's lifestyle or the sensitivity of their skin, can affect which underwear they choose.

For those with sensitive skin, Bustle recommends seamless underwear. Cotton underwear, in general, allows for more breathability, at least when it comes to daily wear. One aspect that's not a personal choice, as it turns out, is fit and tightness. That's not to say people can't wear tight underwear if they want, but there are some good medical reasons why they shouldn't.

Why you should loosen up

Most people aren't too fond of tight underwear in general. As HuffPost points out, it creates bulges, can be unflattering, and can cause genital irritation. The skin of the genitals is very sensitive, especially in people experiencing menopause. Dr. Raquel B. Dardik, a clinical associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, explained to the HuffPost that the vaginal walls of people in menopause are thinner, and the skin of the labia is more prone to irritation.

A secondary concern some people with vaginas may have is that tight underwear limits airflow. According to Pace Hospitals, this may increase the risk of yeast or urinary tract infections. A 2014 study published in African Health Sciences discovered a link between tight underwear and yeast infections. A 2011 study published in the International Journal of General Medicine, however, stated that there was no concrete link between tight underwear and infection risk, rendering the concern up in the air.

Tight underwear does not only negatively affect those with vaginas, however. Pace Hospitals states that tight underwear is worse for sperm motility — the effectiveness of sperm in fertilizing an egg — than either drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco. These reasons make a pretty compelling case for going up a size in underwear, despite your personal preference.