Tiktok lifestyle and wellness advice is a genre unto itself in 2021. There’s all kinds of armchair experts ready to spout their advice for how to make your pasta, walk on your treadmill and, now, when you should throw out your underwear and replace ’em. But, as we know, TikTok health advice isn’t always reliable.
In the now-viral TikTok from user KittyChemist, she claims that because “not all bacteria, pathogens and fibers can be removed during washing” people should throw out their underwear every six to nine months. But is this true?
Well, not really. A few experts in the vaginal health world have already responded to this claim via TikTok and Twitter to make clear that, while your underwear does need to be changed and washed (and you should totally opt for some commando time at night) to take care of your vulva, you don’t need to give them a heave ho just because they are six, seven, eight or nine months old.
The latest “vaginal mayhem” video on TikTok claims women need to replace their underwear every 6-9 months. Um, no. Also, vaginal discharge bleaching dark underwear at the crotch is normal. pic.twitter.com/OMb5fTofLp
— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) March 21, 2021
Upon receiving the OG video, Dr. Jen Gunter responded via her own TikTok: “…Somehow at six to nine months your underwear magically becomes some type of infectious catastrophe and that’s simply not the case. When people tell you that you need to do really special things with your underwear, that is just an extension of purity culture. OK? It’s this idea that the vagina and vulva are delicate and the harbinger of sort of an infectious apocalypse and there’s all this sort of special maintenance. It’s not true at all.”
She went as far as to show off her own older-than-six-months undies — and the bleach mark in the center — to clarify that the discoloration you may be seeing in your underwear is very likely just normal bleaching that come from a more acidic vaginal pH making contact with the fabric. No need to panic!
How can your underwear influence your vaginal health?
While your underwear isn’t something with such a clear-cut expiration date, there are ways you can make sure your underwear loves your vagina as much as you do. But it’s nothing flashy or special, it mostly just involves picking breathable fabrics (cotton is a common rec), changing regularly (once a day, particularly after showering or working out/sweating a lot) and washing them in hypoallergenic soap/nothing too harsh.
But, ultimately, your vagina is a very reliable self-cleaning oven — and, if you experience any kind of bacterial build-up or funky smells that seem abnormal to you, you should always turn to your OBGYN and not TikTok for some science-backed wisdom.
Interested in period and menstrual health products that love your vulva as much as you do? Here’s a few of our faves!