A Medical Laboratory Scientist, Obinna Chukwudi, has cautioned women against wearing underwear for more than 24 hours if they want to maintain good feminine hygiene.
The microbiologist who works at the Department of Microbiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, said the discharge and moisture buildup from the underwear provides a breeding ground for bacteria, and yeast infections contaminated with faecal and urine matter.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH, Chukwudi said the accumulated discharge and moisture can lead to a lingering foul odour and a change in vagina pH level.
According to him, “underwear should not be worn for more than 24 hours. If a woman wears a pant for more than 24 hours, what happens is that the bacteria must have accumulated over time because of the sweat and other secretions coming out, which you don’t usually see, and that is why over time you begin to see underwear changing colour – sometimes white and sometimes grey.
“The secretions stay there over time and if you do not wash it off after the 24 hours, the woman could develop infections. Again, there could be a change in vaginal pH, because of the secretions being produced which could lead to vaginosis.”
Experts say a normal vaginal pH level is between 3.8 and 4.5, which is moderately acidic.
According to them, an acidic vaginal environment creates a barrier that prevents unhealthy bacteria and yeast from multiplying and causing infection; but a high vaginal pH level — above 4.5 — provides an environment for unhealthy bacteria to grow.
Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal inflammation caused by the overgrowth of bacteria naturally found in the vagina, which upsets the natural balance. Though many women with this condition have no signs and symptoms, experts say some signs and symptoms include thin, gray, white, or green vaginal discharge, foul-smelling ‘fishy’ vaginal odour, vaginal itching, and burning during urination. Many women with bacterial vaginosis, however, have no signs or symptoms.
According to an online health portal, Mayo Clinic – a medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research – bacterial vaginosis results from an overgrowth of one of several bacteria naturally found in the vaginal.
“Usually, ‘good’ bacteria (lactobacilli) outnumber ‘bad’ bacteria (anaerobes). But, if there are too many anaerobic bacteria, they upset the natural balance of microorganisms in the vagina and cause bacterial vaginosis,” Mayo Clinic noted.
Continuing, Chukwudi said “vaginosis can cause discomfort and they can experience odour coming from the private part.
“For the men, you could pardon them because the penis is not in direct contact most of the time and the opening is not wide enough to have enough loads of bacteria. But ideally, underwear should not be worn for more than 24 hours.