What's the likelihood that you know the fabric composition of the underwear you're wearing right now (without running to the bathroom or pulling some contortionist moves to check, that is)? Probably pretty slim. Wearing comfortable, breathable underwear isn't just important for your emotional well-being—though, if you've ever been stuck with a scratchy, ill-fitting pair on laundry day, you'll know that's certainly the case—it's important for your physical health, too.
To keep everything copacetic on the gynecological front, Sherry A. Ross, MD, women's health expert and author of She-ology, recommends sticking to cotton underwear for daily wear. "Everyday underwear can be made of nylon, polyester, and spandex as long as the crotch area has a cotton lining, which is more vagina-friendly," she says. For workouts, she recommends nonabsorbent, flexible materials like nylon, spandex, and polyester, similar to the ones you find in your performance leggings. "Some materials are even known to be antibacterial, enhance your physical performance, and provide additional support," she says. (Just be sure to change out of them as soon as possible after the sweat session is over.)
As for the best style to choose, briefs and full-backed underwear have a leg up over thongs in terms of your health because, Ross explains, thongs' "anatomically unfriendly design makes it easier for harmful bacteria of the colon to find their way into the vagina and bladder, increasing the risk of infection." At the end of the day, that's almost definitely more uncomfortable than a little VPL.
Below, shop breathable cotton underwear you'll actually want to wear every day.
The ultra-soft, ribbed organic cotton gives these a luxurious feel.
Cute enough to lounge around your apartment in—no pants required.
A step above your everyday undies.
The strappy sides of this pair add a fun twist.
We're certified suckers for anything Hadid-approved.
The contrasting trim is super pretty.
The cotton panel is functional but looks pretty, too.
Embrace the new-again '90s cut.
These editor-fave thongs also come in Supima cotton, which is produced in the USA using eco-friendly processes.
Perfect to wear under flouncy dresses or skirts.
Everyone needs at least one pair of hot-pink undies.
These are sold in a pack of three, so it's easy to stock up.
Gray and white stripes are a sweet alternative to plain black or white.
Make like Kate (Moss, that is).
Treat yourself to a little something fancy with this silk-paneled pair.
Up next, read about the trick to finding a bodysuit that's comfortable enough to wear all day.