Yoga pants are a basic staple for pretty much anyone with a pulse. They're comfortable, chic (enough), and support an on-the-go lifestyle, which is why it's so amazing that they've become a point of recurring style for the fashion industry. But with all that tight, stretchy material near your you-know-what, you might find yourself wondering, can yoga pants cause UTIs?
First, in order to figure out whether your beloved yoga pants are causing some problems down there, you need to understand what UTIs actually are. A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, your bladder, your urethra, etc. — and it's the result of bacteria infecting your urinary system after having entered your urethra. Some of the most common causes of a UTI include having a lot of sex in a short period of time, and having fecal matter enter your urethra (aka why you should always wipe from front to back!).
One in five women experience at least one UTI in their life, and to put it simply, it just plain sucks. Having a UTI means it burns when you pee, you might have abdominal and back cramping, and it can be seriously painful if you try to have sex before the infection goes away.
Now, when it comes to how your yoga pants tie into this uncomfortable equation, it's a little complicated.
Yoga pants can lead to a UTI, but the real issue is the growth of bacteria down there.
While it is technically possible to get a UTI from habitually wearing athletic clothing that's tight and synthetic, this problem is extremely avoidable: All you have to do is consistently wear clean underwear and practice good hygiene. It's not so much about the type of clothing you wear, so much as the continued practice of keeping everything clean down there so as to prevent bacteria from growing.
And how does that bacteria grow, you may ask? Bacteria loves sweaty, warm environments — which is why UTIs and yeast infections often happen after you have tons of sex, or as a result of hanging out a bit too long in your damp, sweaty clothing after a workout.
The trick is to keep your vagina as clean as possible, especially after you exercise or have sex.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, like this one particularly awful story about a woman who got a UTI from wearing skinny jeans. Again, though, this comes back to the idea of keeping your private parts as clean as you possibly can at all times.
When you wear tight clothing, it becomes more difficult for air to circulate through the compressed area, which in turn increases the likelihood of things getting too warm, too sweaty, and just plain uncomfortable. If your yoga pants are so tight that it feels like your underwear is awkwardly riding all up in your parts, you might want to make sure those particular pants are not the centerpiece of your wardrobe rotation. Try alternating with more "free" outfits, like dresses and skirts, or simply opt for one size larger than usual when you're shopping for your yoga pants to make sure your vag has a bit of breathing room down there.
Another important preventative measure is to routinely wash your yoga pants.
Because yoga pants can be so tight against your downstairs area, you can probably bet money on the fact that at least some bacteria will grow inside the fabric. And if you tend to wear your yoga pants for days or even weeks at a time without washing them, this will definitely increase the likelihood of something uncomfortable manifesting. Plus, tight pants can restrict your blood flow, which can also increase the risk of infection. Not good, fam, not good.
The general takeaway here is that your yoga pants are not the exact, singular culprit for a UTI, but they can play a role, especially if things are particularly sweaty and damp down there, and you're a little lazy about doing your laundry.
Let your lady parts breathe, people!