Women’s fashion can be weird. Many ladies know the curse of having a hard time finding dresses with pockets, but it seems like every underwear has them. What is that little pocket in your panties for? Of course, this isn’t meant to replace pockets for other layers of clothing, right? It’s not that big, and let’s not talk about the logistics of how uncomfortable it would be to sit if you stored anything in there. So what’s the problem?

First, the pocket is not designed for storage. It is not decorative or additional protection in case of wardrobe damage. The pocket in women’s underwear is actually called a gusset. Gussets are very important and are meant to protect your lady parts, and we all agree that’s a good thing.

Here’s what gussets are made to do

Women’s underwear is usually made of synthetic materials such as lace. Lace may look attractive, but it doesn’t breathe very well, meaning bacteria and sweat can collect more easily and get trapped in your underwear. It’s not fun. Gussets are usually made of cotton – a breathable, non-synthetic fabric that helps keep things dry and ventilated. Spruce not only ensures hygiene, but the extra fabric reduces the risk of unpleasant conditions such as yeast infections and urinary tract infections, and improves the breathability of the panties.

The gusset also has another function. Synthetic materials aren’t always comfortable, so think about how bare lace feels on sensitive skin – lace is a soft, comfortable place for your lady to protect against chafing.

Even if your fancy, synthetic panties have tabs, your best bet is an old pair of cotton panties. A small gusseted area can help, but overall breathability is still important.

Breathing is even more important if you are active throughout the day. If you think you’re likely to sweat, skip synthetic materials. This means that if you’re going for a run or going to the gym, you should wear cotton clothes if you don’t want to risk inflammation or infection. This is especially true if you’re prone to bacterial problems down there. Fabric panties may not be as sexy as Victoria’s Secret lace underwear, but they are much more comfortable than yeast infections.

If you’ve learned all this but don’t want to wear cotton underwear, non-cotton options are better than others. “Pants made from things like polyester, nylon, lycra, or spandex sometimes have more stretch and fit better under clothing, but cotton ones,” Dr. Melissa Piliang tells Health.

But beware of tights. If you’re healthy and not susceptible to infection, it’s not much of a threat, but for some people, thongs are a quick way to spread germs. “If you have a little bit of bacteria — E. coli is the most common bacteria in the colon — on the back of the cloth, if you’re active, that material can move,” Dr. Jill M. Rabin told HuffPost. “All it has to do is move an inch or two next to your vagina or urethra. That strap could be depositing colon bacteria into your vagina or urethra.”

In addition, wearing pants during menstruation increases the risk of infection because menstrual fluid increases the pH of the vaginal fluid, making it easier for bacteria to grow. Bands can irritate the sensitive skin on your bottom and make hemorrhoids worse.

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