Originally developed in 1939 by former New York City mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia as a way for nude dancers to cover up a little, thongs have become a staple in the underwear drawers of many women.
But is the skimpy underwear really bad for our health? We called up Dr. Jill M. Rabin, an Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Womens Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Dr. Shieva Ghofrany, an OB/GYN with Stamford Hospital, in Conn., to get the lowdown on those garments we wear low down. What are our undies really doing to us down there?
The main health risks were taking when we wear thongs: infection and irritation.
Infections can occur when the balance of the vaginal environment, including the moisture levels from vaginal secretions, is thrown off, says Dr. Ghofrany. The most common? Yeast infections and bacterial infections, mainly bacterial vaginosis. The extra bacteria usually manifests with increased discharge, which leads to what Dr. Ghofrany calls the vicious cycle of thong use: the increase in discharge leads to an increased use of panty liners, which leads to even more trapped moisture, which leads to more infections and more discharge.
Thongs also carry the risk of external irritation. I see more patients with skin tags on their vulva and near their rectum, in the exact distribution of the thongs, Dr. Ghofrany tells us. I sometimes will be mid-pap and ask a patient, So you wear thongs a lot? And their response is always Ya! How can you tell? And its because of the skin tags, small piles of soft tissue that occur from the skin being constantly rubbed in the same spot. These happen traditionally at bra lines and neck lines, and now increasingly at thong lines!