Should You Go Commando While Working Out? OB/GYN Dr. Maria Sophocles Weighs In — Exclusive

Spill the deets — do you wear underwear while working out or do you prefer the freedom of going commando? C'mon answer honestly, because we swear we won't tell. Ultimately it's your choice, but you might want to know what you're getting yourself into before you decide to go bare during your next workout. Thankfully, we asked gynecologist and women's health expert, Dr. Maria Sophocles, to weigh in on this topic and explain potential commando health risks.

When it comes to women's health, Dr. Sophocles told Health Digest in an exclusive interview, "The external genitalia is the vulva and includes the labia majora, labia minora, and the clitoris as well as the upper vulva called the Moms Pubis. The labia majora have sweat glands and they sweat just like other parts of your body when you exercise." Believe it or not, sweat is good for you and can mean you're getting a good workout in. And intense lower body workouts or running can up the sweat factor in your nether regions (per Medical News Today).

Dr. Sophocles suggests we can combat the discomfort with small lifestyle tweaks. "Wear underwear. Consider moisture-wicking underwear. If your vulva gets irritated from exercise apply a thick greasy barrier ointment like Aquaphor or A and D ointment to act as a buffer. If your vagina itself feels dry you can use a long-acting vaginal moisturizer such as Replens inside the vagina." Right after your workout, hop in the shower to further remove moisture and keep the vagina clean (via Medical News Today).

What happens if you don't wear underwear?

Whether you like the feeling of being commando or if you're trying to avoid the infamous panty lines, skipping underwear may have some health consequences. For starters, the continuous movement of clothes sliding across your vagina can cause serious irritation and chafing (ouch!), per MammaMia. There's also an increased risk that any odors 'down there' may be more apparent without the additional clothing barrier of underwear to absorb sweat and smells.

And if your goal is to achieve better circulation, Dr. Sophocles suggests wearing underwear is actually key. "Going without underwear may be healed up in terms of less irritation from elastic edging of underwear but there is a protective effect of underwear. Cotton underwear allows air to circulate between the vulva and your exercise clothing." Without proper circulation through breathable material like cotton, you run the risk of excess moisture creating harmful yeast bacteria (per American Journal of Nursing Research). This rise in bacteria may increase the odds of folliculitis or UTIs (particularly if you're hair-free), shares MammaMia.

Maria Sophocles, MD, Gynecologist is the Medical Director of Women's Healthcare of Princeton, NJ, and host of livestream GyneCollege.