Wearing underwear to bed poses potential health risks to women according to finding of a new survey put together by medical experts who believe that it could lead to the growth of harmful fungi.

Family physician Dr Grace Obong, who participated in the survey, said that the female genital needs to breathe in order to maintain its PH levels and prevent fungi and odour. She recommended women going to bed bare below, pointing out that during the day, ladies wear a variety of underwear and tight outfits that hardly allow their privates to breathe.

According to Dr Obong, although it is advisable and absolutely preferable to wear cotton panties, many women still opt for polyester underwear with the attendant heating up of the genital area during the day. She advised those who may not like to go to sleep without having panties on to at least opt for boxers or pyjamas.

Published on womenshealth.gov, the findings indicated that the vagina normally has a balance of mostly good bacteria and fewer harmful ones and a condition called bacterial vaginosis (BV), develops when the balance changes. Dr Obong said women with BV may have an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odour, while some may complain of a strong fish-like odour, especially after sex.

With BV, there is an increase in harmful bacteria and a decrease in good bacteria. BV is the most common vaginal infection in women of child-bearing age.

“The discharge can be white milky or gray and it may also be foamy or watery. Other symptoms may include burning when urinating, itching around the outside of the vagina and irritation, while some women with BV have no symptoms at all.”

Agreeing that there are negative effects to wearing panties to bed, online portal, Medline Plus, noted that too much moist in the female genital area can lead to vaginal yeast infection, most commonly due to the fungus Candida albicans. A spokeswoman said: “Wearing tight underwear or a pair made from polyester or some other material that doesn’t breathe can lock in moisture and lead to yeast infections.”

Sexuality counsellor, Evelyn Resh, added: “I do not recommend that women wear underwear to bed. Taking a break from underwear for the eight or so hours that you’re asleep gives you an opportunity to air-out down there, so it is best to have an underwear-free zone while sleeping.”

According to the doctors, while yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted illness, some men will develop symptoms such as itching and a rash on the penis after having sexual contact with an infected partner. They add that the symptoms of yeast infection are as obnoxious as they are embarrassing and include abnormal vaginal discharge, which ranges from a slightly watery, white discharge to a thick, white, chunky discharge; painful intercourse, painful urination, redness and swelling of the vulva and itching in the vagina and the labia.

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