I don’t know about you, but ever since we started quarantining, I’ve been living in my yoga pants. I wear them to my favorite virtual yoga class in the morning, and then I keep them on throughout the day. They’re the perfect uniform, whether I’m homeschooling my son, walking the dogs, cooking dinner, or in my office writing. Recently, I've even invested in new athleisure gear because it's just so comfortable and it's fashionable enough to be acceptable. Look good, feel good, right?
Still, of late, I've wondered if hanging out in tight yoga and workout gear all day isn't kind of icky at times, especially after a long, sweaty workout. Odors and bacteria can fester. Yes, it may be taboo to discuss, but like our recent discussion on bidets, it's important. After all, who wants to go to the drugstore because of a yeast infection in the age of COVID?
In an effort to get to the bottom of this, we spoke to Dr. Maria Sophocles, medical director of Women's Healthcare in Princeton, N.J. for advice on good vaginal health.
Can Yoga Pants Cause a Yeast Infection?
In the same way that you don’t want to be hanging out in a wet bathing suit all day, according to Dr. Sophocles, you should be careful spending too much time in tight workout clothes, especially after a good sweat session.
“Yeast infections are more likely in warm, moist environments," she says, "and non-breathable fabrics plus perspiration (yes, there are sweat glands in the vulva!) are an invitation to yeast."
To stave off the risk of infection, change out of your tight clothing after a workout. Choose some looser clothing or least put on a fresh pair of underwear. If yoga pants are a staple in your wardrobe, says Dr. Sophocles, you need to balance this “lack of airflow” with some time when you’re not wearing underwear. Consider skipping the undies while you sleep.
Do Yoga Pants Cause Vaginal Odor?
Vaginal odor is not caused by poor hygiene or sweating, according to Dr. Sophocles. In fact, it goes much deeper.
“(Vaginal odor) occurs when there is a shift in the balance of several types of good bacteria which live in the vagina,” says Dr. Sophocles. “There are vaginal gels such as RepHresh which help to rebalance and maintain a healthy vaginal pH. If the odor is strong and persistent, see your doctor.”
Maintaining a pH-balanced vagina is crucial to creating a healthy environment downtown. A vaginal pH of below seven is acidic, while a pH of above seven is basic. A normal vaginal pH hovers at about four and a half, but if the vagina is too acidic it can allow bacteria and yeast to thrive.
What Can Women Do to Maintain Good Vaginal Health in Yoga Pants?
In addition to changing out of sweaty yoga pants after a workout, there are a few ways to maintain good vaginal health, according to Dr. Sophocles. Avoid harsh soaps and washing your (self-cleaning!) vagina too frequently. Douching can take a toll on your vaginal pH, washing out the good bacteria, which can make you more vulnerable to infections. You might also consider taking a probiotic or eating foods rich in probiotics like kimchi, kombucha, or yogurt to maintain a variety of healthy bacteria in the gut.
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