For many people, wearing underwear is second nature. There has never been an explanation for why people put them on—we just do. However, from irritating fabric to annoying wedgies, undies can be downright uncomfortable. At times, some people just choose to do without it.
If you’ve ever considered “going commando,” you’re not the only one. According to a poll by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair, 25% of Americans admitted to going sans underwear at least occasionally. What’s more surprising (even shocking!) is that the average pair of underwear contains traces of fecal matter.
That said, there are many health benefits that come with forgoing your bloomers. Of course, there are a few considerations too. So, before ditching the drawers, we’ll dive into several reasons why going commando is a good idea, and explore a few more reasons when to be cautious of it. For a quick overview, jump to our infographic.
What does “Going Commando” mean?
The term “going commando” (or the beloved “free-balling”) is simply American slang for not wearing underpants. Some say the term was likely coined from the military, where soldiers would ditch their underwear to avoid chafing. No one is exactly sure how this particular phrase came to be.
When it comes to skipping the skivvies, however, comfort seems to be the common denominator. In a survey by Tommy John underwear, 17% respondents claimed going commando felt more comfortable.
So, are men the only ones pro commando? Think again! A survey by Cottonelle revealed that women also consider it too. The data showed that nearly two-thirds of Americans said they’d consider going commando as long as they felt clean and comfortable “down below.”
Pros of Ditching Your Underwear
Whether you’re already enjoying the breeze below or strongly considering it, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a number of health advantages that support your choice. Here’s the brief on going sans briefs.
1. Assists in Fertility
If you need some assistance in the intimacy department, avoiding underwear may help. In an interview with Health.com, a gynecologist explained that going commando is great for sexual health. For some couples, skipping the undies can be a bit of a turn on.
Believe it or not, wearing underwear can negatively affect your reproductive organs. Let us explain:
According to research, tight-fitting underwear increases the temperature of your man-parts. This heat can raise your scrotal temperature and, overtime, possibly lower your sperm count.
Tight panties, especially a material that makes you sweat, can carry a lot of bacteria that lead to vaginal infections. When left untreated, these infections can cause inflammation and result in infertility.
2. Helps Prevent Fungal Infections
Underwear, especially when you’re sweating or in a humid environment, can be a breeding ground for fungi. Certain types of underwear easily accumulate moisture and germs in your genitals that lead to a UTI and other infections.
Jock itch, a painful skin irritation some men experience after prolonged periods of exercise, is a fungal infection. It typically happens around your groin and inner thighs, where you mostly sweat with underwear on.
Your underwear can be a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes yeast infections. Other infections like bacterial vaginosis and vaginitis are also common.
3. Reduces Skin Irritation
Another common problem of wearing underwear is chafing. Many of them are made of artificial fabrics that rub against the skin and cause painful irritation.
Too much friction between your “johnson” and tight briefs can do more harm than good. If you don’t have any properly fitting underwear, it may be better to just ditch them altogether!
Chafing and other skin irritation, such as contact dermatitis, can feel even more sensitive in your vaginal area. The vulva is extremely delicate skin that can suffer injury, which also leads to infections. Toss those panties with irritating fabric!
4. Maximizes Airflow
Feeling the breeze down there has its perks. Loose-fitting undies not only prevent friction, but also keep the genitals dry and cool.
More air means less sweat around your testicles. Less sweat means reducing your chances of jock itch!
Increased airflow can help decrease embarrassing vaginal odor, especially after a good workout session (your lady-parts will thank you).
As we mentioned earlier, most people simply find it more comfortable to go commando. For many, less irritation and odor sounds like a no-brainer.
What feels better than letting your man-parts hang loose after coming home from a long day at work? Who knows, it may also boost some excitement between you and your partner.
If you find that visible panty line to be aesthetically unpleasing and want to ditch it, go for it! After all, who’s going to ask?
Cons of Not Wearing Underwear
1. Affects Personal Hygiene Routine
Since genital sweat will be more absorbed by your clothes without the extra layer of underwear, you will have to wash them more frequently.
Fellas, it’s just as important to wash your workout clothes after every use, especially if you’re going commando. The bacteria that causes jock itch can still accumulate.
Sometimes wearing underwear helps with menstrual maintenance, where it serves as that extra “protection.” You’ll also need to be more cognizant of proper hygiene habits to maintain vaginal health, such as wiping front to back.
2. Increases Risk of Injury
Without underwear as the barrier between your reproductive area and outerwear, there’s less protection for those sensitive layers of skin.
Rough activities and sports, such as mountain biking and soccer, can get pretty aggressive around your man-parts. A lot of men’s underwear and compression shorts come with a pocket to insert a protective cup for those occasions.
Remember, the vulva is a very delicate area. If you don’t have an extra barrier like underwear protecting it, the vulva is more prone to micro-cuts or abrasions from tough fabric.
3. May Still Experience Chafing
Depending on the fabric of your clothing, you can still receive skin irritation. It’s important to find out the types of dyes and material to avoid allergic reactions.
If you choose to manscape, keep in mind that pubic hair serves as an extra layer of protection around the sensitive genital skin. If you go commando a lot, it may be ideal not to shave as much.
This also goes for women who choose to shave or wax their vaginal areas. Outer clothing may still rub too harshly around your vulva.
4. Susceptibility to Other Bacteria
Less underclothing means more exposure to other bacteria. This can be anywhere, such as the seats in a restaurant or the new clothes you try on in a fitting room.
If you’re freeballing, remember that fungi thrive in warm, humid environments. The type of outerwear you put on can make all the difference.
If you’re out in public, be careful to keep your skirt down. Long pants and dresses, fortunately, provide enough protection in these cases.
Do’s and Don’ts of Going Commando
Whether you choose to go commando occasionally or all the time, here’s what you should know to maintain healthy genitalia.
Do Avoid Wearing Tight Underwear
Loose-fitting underwear is key. Tight fabric causes more irritation and reduces the amount of ventilation you receive down there.
Don’t Try on New Clothes
In addition to more exposure, you’re also more susceptible to transfer bacteria to other clothing. If you must buy that new outfit, wait until you can wash it before wearing it.
Do Wash Your Clothes More Regularly
Increased sweat and smells from your genitals is usually convincing enough that it’s time for a wash. Even if you’re wiping down there more often after bathroom visits, it doesn’t prevent that bacteria from rubbing on your clothes. Also, excess use of toilet paper isn’t necessarily good for the environment.
Don’t Count Out Fungal Infections
Exposure to more bacteria puts yourself at risk for infection, especially around your genitals. Also, you can still get jock itch and yeast infections from outer clothing that is tight and not well ventilated.
Comman-DO or DON’T, TUSHY Can Help
Going commando may not be ideal every day, but many times it does make sense! For the most part, keeping your genital area cool and clean is the key to keeping it healthy. If you go without underwear often and haven’t tried a bidet yet, it may be worth your while. Additionally, there are gentle wiping alternatives for those delicate lower areas.