I haven’t worn underwear in 8 months and I have a happy, healthy hoohah.
My femme freeballing adventure began when I started to notice my undies were getting a little—well, snug. Getting dressed in the morning became an exercise in dread. I’d have a faceoff with those stupid, lacy, confining skivvies until one day, I had enough. Sure, I could have bought more in a bigger size, but that was a whole other mental breakdown I wasn’t prepared to have. I decided to wing it, or rather, loose lip it. And I haven’t looked back since.
This isn’t the first time I’ve called into question the necessity of underoos. I remember shopping with my friend Sara in the sixth grade. I whispered to her in the Limited Too fitting room, “Why do we even wear underwear?”
She stared back at me with this dim look and snorted, “Are you serious?!”
I’d obviously missed something glaringly obvious and was a total barbarian for even questioning the necessity of panties. I replied with a quick “Er…NO! I was joking! Hahaha.” Phew. Really dodged that bullet.
My labia were flapping like a pair of Dumbo ears.
As an adult eight months into my happily commando lifestyle, I mentioned my revelation to a group of pals recently and was met with crickets and blank stares. After a few moments someone finally broke the awkward silence by cracking, “Better keep your legs crossed hahaha!”
My vagina clinched in embarrassment. Did I just cross a line? Just as my neuroseis began to really ramp up, I received a text from one of the girls I just divulged to. It read, “BTW, I haven’t worn underwear in years.” YASSSS. My inner goddess was doing a square dance. My labia were flapping like a pair of Dumbo ears.
Fascinated by the idea of a secret society of liberated slits, I went to the internet to find out what the vagina oppression was all about. Why are we even expected to wear underwear? What is its purpose? To me, it all seemed a little unnecessary. Thank god I wasn’t the only filthy animal asking the question. I took to Twitter, where I found people weighing in with their reasons for suffocating their privates.
The number one argument against going commando was exactly what I’d expected: hygeine. I’ll be honest with you: This has always come lower on my priority list than most people’s. But I understand that your bare Madame Butterfly rubbing against the inside of your gym shorts might seem like a breeding ground for bacteria. But guess what—IT AIN’T.
In an interview with The Village Voice, Dr. Gillian Dean, associate medical director of clinical research and training at Planned Parenthood New York City, said there’s no scientific research suggesting a direct correlation between going commando and contracting infections like yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
In fact, specialists agree that giving your vagina some air actually REDUCES your risk of contracting a UTI or yeast infection. Urinary tract infections can be caused by the spread of bacteria from the rectum to the tract via undies (I knew they were evil)! Furthermore, yeast infections like warm, moist environments. This means your underwear basically acts as a yeasty incubator. These are both reasons doctors often advise women not to wear underwear at night. Some of us (especially those prone to infections) do exactly that—and some take it up a knotch and just kick knickers altogether.
Dr. Dean noted that going commando could actually be considered treatment for your vaj. She states, “If you have an infection, it’s better to air things out.”
She’s not the only professional who supports letting your vagina breath. Sherry Thomas, MD, an OB-GYN and surgeon at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, California, says that, “Wearing no undergarments—or just cotton ones—allows the external genitals to dry and reduces bacteria growth that could otherwise make its way into your urethra and cause a bladder infection.”
Schwing! Score one for the Freedom Cooters.
OK, great. But what about the OTHER diseases? Have I been subjecting myself to catching some gnarly syphilis or pubic lice?
Alyssa Dweck, M.D., a New York-based gynecologist told Buzzfeed, “As far as STDs and all, I don’t think you’re going to get anything along those lines if you still have a barrier of clothing between you and whatever surface may be harboring infection.”
Hear that?—No rubbing your lady parts directly on the subway seat. That’s gross, and WHO KNOWS what you’re exposing yourself to there. So long as there’s a cloth barrier, you’re good.
I know what you’re thinking—I’m forgetting a very important factor, and that’s the unpleasant yet necessary word on EXCRETIONS. Yes, we women, erm…excrete both white and red stuff. Sometimes whitish-yellow stuff (and if that’s the case, it’s being caused by something else. Go see your doctor, chick, because it ain’t a good sign)!
So yes, be aware that the choice to go sans underwear means that you may have some white stains in your pants. It’s OK—it washes out.
According to Dweck, “Some women can go commando for the first two weeks of their cycle but then once they ovulate the secretions are a little bit heavier and they’d rather wear something for protection.” She added, “If you have irregular periods or you’re not exactly sure when you’re going to get your period, you do run the risk of staining.” But to be very honest, that’s a stain risk I’m willing to take. I do, however, keep a couple backup pairs of underwear handy for the truly heavy-flow nights when I don’t want to risk waking up to a murder scene in my bed.
Image credit: YouTube
Bottom line: We’re living under this assumption that our panties protect us from the cold and dirty outside world. We think that leaving our bits “unprotected” means having a filthy undercarriage that’s prone to bacteria. It’s simply not the case. The idea is that panties keep our outer garments from being soiled or damaged by our bodily fluids while concealing our parts from the world. But I’ll tell you, I’ve never had a problem with either of these things. If some of my lady liquids leak onto a pair of yoga pants, I’m totally cool with that. To me, it’s far more acceptable than pantylines and undergarments that make me feel confined and uncomfortable. Furthermore, I’m not flashing my labia around like Britney or Lindsey. I’m conscious of what’s going on down there and I don’t put myself at risk for a potential flashing.
Your clitoris isn’t going to fall off and your labia won’t get frostbite.
What science and I are saying is: Do what you feel is right for your vulva. If you’re feeling underwearry, take it from me—in eight months, I’ve never had a complaint from a significant other, or an OBGYN. Show me a beautiful vagina that’s been cozied away in a pair of Hanes Her Ways, and I’ll show you one that’s been freeballin’ for the past five years. You won’t be able to tell a difference! Are panties essential to our health? No. Do they assist with stains? Yes. If you care about those sorts of things, or you don’t have an in-unit washer/dryer, then feel free to continue spending $18 per Hanky Panky in a world in which the average women owns 34 pairs of underwear. Meanwhile, I feel vindicated—freed, even. I no longer dread getting dressed in the morning and no amount of pussy-shaming could make me change that. Going commando isn’t wrong. Your clitoris isn’t going to fall off and your labia won’t get frostbite. Underwear is a choice, not a necessity.