What you need to know:
- Women, especially the younger ones, are ditching panties for—nothing
- But, women should reconsider this move according to a Mombasa-based Consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, Swabra Swaleh Breik
For many young women today, "going commando" is in vogue. Women en masse are ditching panties for—nothing. And it's interesting because with every generation, one underwear trend is outfaced and another is embraced.
There was a time when wearing corsets was a thing. Women would squeeze their innards into body shaping garments. Generation Y ditched them but embraced wearing petticoats underneath dresses and skirts.
With the birth of millennials, petticoats and to a large extent, bikers, lost their purposes. They embraced the thong aka G-strings. But who can forget how those hardly-there pieces cut into your backside? Ouch. Well, there was Sisqo’s Thong Song which perhaps is the only nice memory to this trend.
Now, generation Z is stretching the threads further. "No panties needed. Thanks," they sing to the commando tune.
"I own at most four panties and I only wear them during my menstruation period. I find it liberating to walk without them. Also, I am mostly on tight dresses so I want no panty lines," shares 20-year old Maureen Mwende.
But, women should reconsider. This is according to a Mombasa-based Consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, Swabra Swaleh Breik.
"We cannot downplay the role that panties serve. In the face of recurrent vaginal, vulvar infections, panties play a role in a woman's intimate hygiene and cannot be ignored. One Jerry Lawler said, "Panties aren't the greatest thing in the world but they are next to them."
They help in the following ways:
- Reduction of vaginal and vulvar bacterial and fungal infections.
- Reduce friction burns especially for the thick women.
- Reduction of genital injury especially the labia majora and minora and the infamous zipper injuries.
- Prevention of leakages and these include both urine and /or faeces in women with incontinence issues
- Absorption of vaginal secretions and yes, the vagina is meant to have secretions
- Containment of blood during menstruation and vaginal bleeding following childbirth
- Confidence, because the right fitting underwear could easily elevate one's mood and esteem.
Swaleh observes that some women could be ditching them because they haven't figured out the right panty yet. "Ask most women and they'll tell you this, you started the day with that cute little number, all lace, frilly, and ready to take on the world. A boss babe. You get to midday and the unrelenting sweltering midday heat and chaffing thighs make you rethink all your life's choices. By evening, the lace is all bunched up on your bum and feels like failure, disappointment and a red hot bum all rolled into one. If this has happened to you, you probably considered the aesthetic over function aspect when buying your undies," Dr. Swaleh offers.
What type of panties is recommended?
"As long as the panty is cotton, breathable, comfortable and feels good on your skin, and most importantly, fits your body type and intended needs, then that's okay.
I would however not recommend a period panty for date night and a thong may be almost impossible to use post-partum.
Notably, the cut of the panty should be considered in the sense that it should allow for the labia to be fully covered. Ahem, grandma panties anyone?
Keep in mind stringy panties like the g-string may have the wick effect where sweat and bacteria from the anus may seep into the seat (fabric piece covering the labia) and generally expose the vulva and vagina to bacteria from the gut," says Dr. Swaleh.
From a healthy perspective, the function should take precedence over aesthetics because:
- Period panties are recommended for menses and postpartum women as they are absorbent, leak-proof, and can be used alone or in combination with other sanitary products like tampons and pads.
- Pregnant and menopausal women may need a wider seat on the panty to avoid inflammatory conditions like vulvitis. Vulvitis is irritation or inflammation of the vulva, the skin right outside the vagina.
- Performance underwear is known to wick moisture away as seen in athletes and people exercising.
When is it time to change one's panties?
Worn-out panties not only look bad but may cause more discomfort than imagined. If a panty no longer fits, the digging straps don't count for support, and is threadbare, that's a true sign that it's time for a change.
Also, if it's too loose. Need I expound? The underwear is meant for support, perk up, elevate and hold together. To add, if the said panty is stained, it may potentially act as a source of infections if there's improper washing and ironing.
Knowing all the above, what common mistakes do women make when selecting panties?
- Preferring aesthetics over function.
- Wearing non-cotton panties like nylon and satin all day long.
- Skipping panties all together during the day
- Wrong-fitting panties that cut through and are not comfortable.
- Not paying attention to colour and texture and how the panty sits below the outer clothing
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