By Bunmi Sofola
Do you think your undies could be causing you serious health problems? And is there a real case for permanently consigning them to the back of your drawers? Surprising as it may seem, growing numbers of women say they are quietly giving up knickers for health reasons. It seems that synthetic materials, modern dyes and industrial- strength control fabrics now used in undies could be causing everything from infections to stomach aches and even prolapses – where an organ in a woman’s pelvis slips out of place.
From time to time, some women skip wearing knickers when embarrassing panty lines could ruin a clingy elegant dress. These days however, more and more women go ‘commando’ for health reasons. Angelica, a film producer confessed she spent years wearing thongs to avoid a visible panty line in the form-fitting dresses she preferred, until she became pregnant with her first child. According to her: “When I fell pregnant for the first time, I found thongs really uncomfortable. I couldn’t bear the way they dug into my hips. “The bigger I got, the more painful it became. I tried buying larger sizes and wearing different styles of underwear such as French knickers, but I just couldn’t get comfortable. I got to a point where I decided I’d be better of not wearing underwear at all. It was so liberating discovering that I didn’t actually need to wear knickers, and realising that nobody else would know.”
While for many women (and men) the idea of going knickerless has sexual connotations, Angelica insisted that, if anything, the opposite is true. “At first my husband thought it was a bit strange that I didn’t wear knickers,” she said, “but these days he doesn’t bat an eyelid. It sounds silly but the only time I wear them ~part from during my period) is if we’re being intimate and I want him to see my in something tasteful and cheerful. Most people would probably take off their underwear to seduce their husband, but for us, it’s the other way round!” The fear of revealing too much in public if caught in a strong wind or a fall is enough to deter most women from following Angelica’s example. But she insisted that “sensible outfit selection is all that’s needed to ensure I’m never caught in an embarassing situation. I wonder how many people are uncomfortable wearing knickers but won’t admit because they think it’s something you have to put up with.” However, there’s a surprising amount of evidence that refusing to wear knickers could be the secret to avoiding embarrassing infections and other health problems.Cheap black knickers, according to experts can contain dyes such as paraphenylenediamine (PPD) – a chemical commonly used in hair dyes and black henna tattoo as well as textiles. Such chemical added to fabrics may cause eczema or irritation, and can exacerbate an itchy condition known as lichen sclerosus-where white patchcs develop in intimate areas. And it’s not just the dyes that can be harmful but the materials themselves. Materials such as nylon have no moisture removing properties, continued the experts, so skin can become damp, leading to thrush or bacterial infections. And most synthetic materials cannot be washed at high temperatures, which means many bacteria on underwear will not be killed, again, raising the threat of infections. Consultant gynacologist Nicholas Raine-Fening, believed: “It would be better to wear no knickers than the wrong kind of knickers. Nylon knickers ought to come with a health warning. They’re only acceptable for a short period of time being a high risk factor for irritation. Whatever you do, don’t wear them at night when many women wish to have on some form of undergarments. Wear only loose cotton garments, not tight or synthetic pants. If you must wear nylon underwear, please ensure it has a cotton gusset.” It’s an advice that Tolu, an events planner wishes she’d adhered to. “I stopped wearing knickers a few years ago after I began suffering from an embarrassing infection. I was mortified,”she said. “It wasn’t painful but I kept needing to go to the loo. I saw my doctor and was diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis – a common vaginal infection that is not sexually transmitted but caused by overgrowth of bacteria. It took two courses of antibiotics before I was cured. It was a huge relief, but I was terrified it could come back. Then a friend suggested going without knickers. She told me she never wore them as she believed it was the best way to avoid ‘ladies’ problems’. Although Iwas slightly sceptical, I decided to give it a try. It was a bit strange at first, but I was amazed at how much cooler and more comfortable I was with the air circulating in that area. Until then, I’d mainly worn thongs and, although I never bought anything very expensive, I loved the pretty, feminine ones made from silk. Looking back, I’m sure they played a big part in my infection as they aren’t as breathable as cotton. Now the only time I wear knickers is during my period, and thankfully the infection has never returned. I’m convinced it’s down to all that fresh air! “I feel far more confident and healthy. And I’m now so used to not wearing them that when it is that time of the month, I really notice them and find they rub. Of course when I’m wearing a short dress or skirt, I’ll wear something underneath, such as a pair of shorts or bikini bottoms which are less clingy. I don’t make a habit of letting people know, as I don’t want to attract sleazy comments. But I don’t hide it either. After all some ladies go without a bra, what’s the difference? Not wearing knickers has benefited my health enormously and I would recommend it!” Family’s Wonder Cure? (Humour) BRENDA and Steve take their six-year-old son to the doctor. With some hesitation, they explain that although their litle angel appears to be in good health, they’ve concerned about his rather small penis. The doctor examines the child. “Just feed him pancakes. That should solve the problem,” he declares confidently. The next morning, when the boy arrives at breakfast, there’s a large stack of warm pancakes in the middle of the table. “Wow, Mum!” he exclaims. “Are they all for me? “ just take two”, Brenda replies. “The rest of them are for your father.”