Thongs often get a bad rap, and with many believing they're a one-way ticket to infection city ("basically a bacterial superhighway from your bum hole to your business," as Della tells Germaine in Caitlin Moran's comedy Raised by Wolves).
However, wearing a thong doesn't always guarantee an unhealthy gynecological situation—in fact, women that aren't predisposed to conditions like urinary tract or bacterial infections, two of the most common illness blamed on thongs, can wear them and stay perfectly healthy. It's only really if you're prone to these illnesses that you should to consider culling thongs from your underwear drawer permanently.
2. It's all about the material.
Cotton is the best choice of fabric for any kind of underwear, but it's especially important to go for those breathable fibres when you're wearing a G-string. It's gentler on your skin, allows the evaporation of moisture that can otherwise encourage the growth of bacteria, and research has shown that switching to cotton can prevent irritation and itching too. Lace and silk pants, whilst often much more attractive to look at, should be kept for when someone's probably going to be taking them off anyway.
3. You shouldn't wear them if you're sick...
While thongs aren't a guaranteed infection waiting to happen, your immune system is lowered when you're ill, so it's got less strength to fight off other bacteria. This means that the risk of infection from everyday items you're usually fine with, like your pants, shoots up, even if it's something simple like a cold. Play it safe and go for your regular panty until you're feeling better—you've got enough to be dealing with without adding a UTI to the mix.
4. …or if you're going to the gym.
Okay, so you might get a VPL in your workout leggings, but that's better than your rectal bacteria (yep) getting transferred to your vagina when you move around and sweat, leading to potential urinary tract infections. E-coli, the most common bacteria found in the colon, can easily sneak down into your vagina or your urethra if you exercise in a thong, so next time you're updating your kit, get your gym pants in a sweat-wicking material to keep you fresh (or as it's physically possible to be after a 45-minute spin class).
5. They can make existing health conditions worse.
The friction caused by wearing thongs won't give you conditions like hemorrhoids or lichen sclerosus (a skin condition that causes itchiness and white patches on the skin), but if you have them already, their shape and orientation can make things ten times worse. Web MD adds that wearing an ill-fitting thong or a thong that's too tight can also lead to clitoral irritation, and Dr Shieva Ghofrany previously told the Huffington Post that doctors notice more skin tags on patients who wear thongs frequently as well.
6. If you don't like them, you don't have to wear them.
Thongs can be uncomfortable even if they're not causing your health problems, and if you don't get on with them, don't feel pressured to pursue them just because they're seen as the "sexier" option. In fact, a 2015 study from NPD Group showed that sales of thongs decreased by 7% in the last year, which sales of bigger pants like briefs, high waisted pants and boy shorts shot up by 17%—so choosing underwear that actually covers your butt could actually mean that you're bang on trend!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.