Letting my vagina breathe at night

Originally Published: May 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 29, 2014
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Dear Alice,

Is there something wrong with me? I like to sleep in the nude without any panties on and my legs spread apart because it helps to air out my vagina. My pussy area gets so moist during the day that I cannot stand it. I am afraid that I will get a yeast infection or some fungi will grow on my vaginal lips if I don't air it out at night.

— Pussy cat

Dear Pussy cat,

It sounds like your nightly "airing out" is part and parcel with good vaginal health. Much as earwax and tears are parts of the normal functioning of the ear and eye, all women normally secrete moisture from the membranes that line the vagina. These vaginal secretions help control the growth of microorganisms that normally inhabit the vagina, which is part of what makes the vagina a self-cleansing organ.

Healthy vaginal secretions usually appear clear or slightly milky, and may range from somewhat slippery to clumpy. When dry, secretions may be yellowish in color. Sexual arousal, stress, and/or ovulation at mid-cycle may lead to an increase in discharge. Abnormal secretions are usually gray, yellow, or greenish in color, may resemble cottage cheese or foam in texture, and may have an unpleasant smell. They are usually symptomatic of vaginitis, and can be diagnosed by your health care provider. If what you are seeing down there just doesn't seem right, or the amount you are secreting has you concerned, you may want to contact  your health care provider for an appointment. Students at Columbia on the Morningside campus can make an appointment via Open Communicator. Students on the CUMC campus can contact the Student Health Service for an appointment.

When you are wearing clothes, you might be more comfortable wearing cotton underwear and bottoms that are loose-fitting in your genital area (skirts, baggy pants, panty hose with cotton inserts, etc.). This will help reduce the chance of vaginal irritations and infections, regardless of how you sleep. As a general rule, constricting underwear or panties made with synthetic fibers are best avoided for optimum vaginal health.

Because every woman has different amounts of secretion for what's considered normal for them, try not to fret about how you keep your vagina healthy. Going commando at bedtime certainly will do no harm. Sleep tight!

Alice