What You Should Know Before You Do

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE ripping your underwear off after a long day. Underwear design has come a long way from the leather crotch coverings our ansestors were using while they hunted for food. Whether you prefer a relaxed boxer or a protective brief, there’s an underwear out there that makes suiting up more tolerable than it was years ago (trust us, we’ve tested them). However, nothing really hits the same level of comfort as going completely underwear-less. Allowing sweet freedom to your balls after being cooped up in clothing is liberating. but not many participate in the commando lifestyle day in and day out. Only 7 percent of people say they opt for no underwear on a regular basis, according to a survey done by Vanity Fair. These people might know what they’re talking about. Going commando has some surprising health benefits. Freeing your junk can allow more air circulation, lower the risk for infections, and even help with sperm production and fertility. Who needs underwear, anyway? More From Men’s Health play iconThe triangle icon that indicates to playTack comfort onto the list of reasons that going commando rules, and we’re sold. But, we’ve been using underwear for centuries. Are they necessary for the health of our groin? The good news is there isn’t any medical reason that states you need underwear for support, says Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D., co-director of the PUR urology clinic in Clermont, Florida. If you’re looking for a sign to go commando more often, here it is. There’s just a few rules you might want to abide by before letting your junk freedom flag fly. 1. Protect Your Privates, or Prepare to Chafe.Chafing can haunt you no matter what you wear (yes, even baggy pants can be trouble). Without underwear, you don’t have any protection between the outer layer of your skin and the “harsh reality of the fabric and seams of your pants,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University.This can cause painful skin irritation. So before you go commando, apply a thin layer of baby powder or petroleum jelly to your groin. It’ll help form a barrier to minimize the friction, Dr. Gohara says. Thinking ahead of time can also spare you some pain. Before going to bed, apply a moisturizing cream to promote skin healing overnight as well as prevent any chafing for the next day, according to dermatologist Hadley King, M.D.2. Don’t Count Out Jock Itch.Just because you’re freeballing, don’t assume that the possibility of jock itch is out the window. Underwear or not, men are more prone to the condition simply because of the groin’s anatomy. Jock itch—a skin condition that presents as an itchy, red, ring-shaped rash—occurs when you’re exposed to fungus, says Dr. Gohara. And fungi love to hang in warm, humid environments—just like the inside of your pants when your balls are sweating all over them. Jock itch can be pretty uncomfortable and awkward to deal with. To fight off fungi, keep your boys dry with just a sprinkle of baby powder in the morning. But most importantly, regularly wash your pants. Which brings us to our next rule:3. Double Your Laundry Duty. If you normally wear a pair of pants four times before washing them, dial that down to just two. Your genitals carry a lot of bacteria, so it’s important to keep your clothes fresh after they’ve been worn. Going commando will cut your wear-to-cleaning cycle in half, says David Burrows, cofounder of the app-based dry-cleaning service Laundri. When fabric sits directly next to your skin, it makes your pants dirtier—and smellier—faster. If you wear dry clean-only fabrics like wool, this can get pricey, says Burrows. Pants made from heavier, thicker fabrics can usually last longer between washes than lighter, thinner pants, he says. 4. Anticipate Sweat Stains.Although the thought is pretty gross, your underwear soaks up the sweat in your crotch area that gathers throughout the day. When you don’t have extra fabric to absorb moisture around your crotch, you end up with nasty sweat stains, says M. Jay Singleton, a men’s style consultant and founder of Urban Squire Club. These stains are more visible on lighter fabrics and colors, like khakis, he says. As with chafing or jock itch prevention, you’ll want to sprinkle a dash of baby powder on your privates to save you from any embarrassing marks. This will absorb moisture so stains won’t form. If you start to worry about stains lingering in your clothing, here’s one tip: rub a teaspoon of dish detergent mixed with two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide into the stained area and let it sit for 30 minutes. “Then wash the garment as you normally do in cool water with your regular detergent,” Burrows says. 5. Then, Get Out of Your Sweaty Clothes. Especially if you work out commando, it’s probably best to switch into some drier clothes right when you finish your sweat. Since there’s nothing to wick the moisture away, the sweat will sit longer on your skin. You might increase your risk of chafing, rashes, or infections if you sit like that for too long. Bring a change of clothes with you next time you workout sans underwear. 6. Steer Clear of Skinny Jeans.Skinny-cut pants, especially those made from heavier fabrics like denim, may cut into your crotch when you sit down, says Singleton. And the stronger dyes rubbing against you might lead to some temporary skin stains from your favorite dark wash denim. Tight pants can also cause the same irritation and lack of ventilation as underwear.To make matters worse, if your fabric isn’t thick enough (or if you’re wearing too light a color), you could give everyone an eyeful. To mask weird lines or bulges, wear wool or heavier cotton pants, says Ray Li, CEO and founder of the men’s clothing line Suitable. 7. Avoid Fitting Rooms.Your crotch area is teeming with loads of bacteria, including the kind that can trigger diarrhea. So this is obvious, but don’t try on new pants while going commando. Some of those fecal bacteria can transfer onto the fabric, says Sarah Council, Ph.D., a microbiologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Genomics & Microbiology Research Lab. Not only can you transfer those bacteria, but you can be exposed to bacteria from whoever else tried on the same piece of clothing.Marygrace Taylor is a health and wellness writer for Prevention, Parade, Women’s Health, Redbook, and others. She’s also the co-author of Prevention’s Eat Clean, Stay Lean: The Diet and Prevention’s Mediterranean Kitchen. Visit her at marygracetaylor.com.Vanessa Etienne is the Editorial Fellow at Men’s Health. She has covered health and entertainment for The New York Times, Everyday Health and BET.Cori Ritchey, NASM-CPT is an Associate Health & Fitness Editor at Men’s Health and a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. You can find more of her work in HealthCentral, Livestrong, Self, and others.

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