If you’re swimming all day, it’s normal to stay in your swimsuit instead of changing in and out of wet garments all day. However, once you’ve escaped the pool for a while, sitting around in your wet suit is not really the best idea. Here’s why.
Dampness is not your friend
You probably know by now that choosing cotton underwear makes your vulva far happier than wrapping it up in synthetic fabric. According to materials from the St. Louis University School of Medicine, this is because it allows air to come in and moisture to go out, which is great for avoiding some of the woes that can befall your genitals, so it’s not a stretch to realize that maybe lounging in a wet swimsuit might not be the best choice for your vag.
Dr. Alyssa Dweck is a full-time practicing OB-GYN in Westchester County, New York, and she agrees. She tells SheKnows it’s really not a great idea to keep your goods wrapped in a wet swimsuit for hours at a time, especially considering that swimwear is manufactured with fabrics that are definitely not cotton. The dismal news is that your soggy swimsuit creates an environment where certain microorganisms love to blossom, so it’s best to change ASAP, even if your suit is super-cute and you’re comfortable.
Bacteria thrive in warm, moist places like a wet bathing suit, Dweck warns. As you can imagine, this is decidedly not what you want to flourish in your nether regions. She also mentions a few maladies that can creep up due to keeping your crotch encased in a soggy suit.
Urinary tract infection: A wet swimsuit can result in a urinary tract infection, says Dweck. A UTI is a pretty common experience for women, unfortunately. While the term UTI describes an infection anywhere along your urinary tract (including your kidneys), infections that start — and remain — in your bladder can still be painful.
Worse yet, if they’re left untreated, they can become more serious and can sneak right along your ureters and straight to your kidneys. “If you think you have a UTI, seek a medical evaluation, obtain a urinalysis and urine culture and treat with antibiotics if indicated,” Dweck advises.
Yeast infection: Another sad tale for a vulvar region swathed in wet swimsuit material is the possibility of developing a yeast infection. “A wet bathing suit creates a dark, moist environment and can alter the vaginal pH and lead to infection,” says Dweck. Yeast infections are very uncomfortable and can lead to itching, soreness, pain upon urination and abnormal vaginal discharge. A yeast infection can often be treated over the counter, but visit your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Bacterial vaginosis: Bacterial vaginosis is another vagina situation that can be caused by lounging in a wet suit, Dweck says, again because it can alter your vaginal pH. This can further lead to an upset in the balance of bacteria in the vagina and can present as an abnormal vaginal discharge or unusual odor. This infection is often treated with antibiotics, so a visit to the doc is in order if you suspect BV.
Best care practices
Kara Manglani, certified nurse-midwife and founder of The Fertile Times, notes that often, sitting around in a wet swimsuit is usually harmless (that is, not everyone who sits around in a damp crotch warmer will develop issues). However, there is a caveat. “If you frequently get UTIs or yeast infections, you may want to change into dry clothes to decrease your risk of getting an infection,” she tells SheKnows.
Also, most people probably aren’t too keen to take the risk in the first place. If you could avoid getting a UTI, yeast infection or BV, you totally would, right? In addition to removing your wet swimsuit as soon as reasonably possible, dermatologist Dr. Michele Green has another recommendation that can help keep your area clean and dry: “After swimming, it is always best to rinse off immediately and shower with water.”
So, while it’s tempting to laze about after a swim, it’s really not the best idea for your vaginal health. So hop out of the pool, rinse off and change into some fresh (cotton!) undies — your vulva will thank you.