“Going commando” is a way of saying that you’re not wearing any underwear. The term refers to elite soldiers trained to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice. So when you’re not wearing any underwear, you’re, well, ready to go at any moment — without pesky undies in the way.

Linguistic jokes aside, going commando may actually have some demonstrable benefits. Let’s explore some of the reasons you may want to give an underwear-free lifestyle a shot.

Due to the differences in male and female genitals, men and women experience different benefits from going commando.

Going commando for women

Here are a few good reasons that going commando can be good for female genitalia:

It reduces the risk of developing yeast infections

Candida, the bacteria responsible for yeast infections, thrives in warm, moist environments.

Wearing tight underwear or undies that aren’t made of a breathable material, such as cotton, can retain moisture in your genital area and make it easier for yeast bacteria to grow.

By not wearing underwear, you can keep your genitals ventilated and reduce the chances that yeast bacteria develop.

It can help reduce vaginal odor and discomfort

When moisture from sweat and heat are trapped in the genital area by underwear, it can start smelling more strongly down there.

Skipping underwear can allow your sweat to evaporate, keep the odors to a minimum, and reduce chafing made worse by moisture.

It protects your vulva from injury

The labia outside your vagina are made of delicate tissue similar to that of your lips.

Tight underwear made of artificial fabrics can chafe and irritate the labia and the skin around it. This can damage skin and expose you to injury, bleeding, or even infections. Plus, it just hurts.

Losing the underwear, especially if you’re wearing loose-fitting clothes, can reduce or completely remove the possibility of chafing or damage.

It protects you from allergic reactions or sensitivities

Many clothes contain artificial dyes, fabrics, and chemicals that can cause allergic reactions known as contact dermatitis.

This may take the form of bumps, rashes, blisters, or irritation. More serious reactions can cause tissue damage and infections.

Without underwear, you’ve got one less piece of clothing to worry about causing a reaction.

Going commando for men

Men experience some of the same benefits as women when they choose to go commando.

But there are a couple of additional benefits for men when going commando, mostly related to the unique physiology of the penis, scrotum, and testicles:

It prevents jock itch and other fungal infections

Warm, wet genitals are a breeding ground for fungi like tinea cruris, or jock itch. This can cause redness, irritation, and itching on your genitals.

Keeping your genitalia ventilated ensures that the area stays cool and dry, especially after prolonged periods of athletic activity.

It reduces the chances of irritation and injury

Whether you wear underwear or not, it’s possible to experience some chafing of the penis or scrotum against your clothing. This can cause irritation and even injury, which may lead to infections if they happen often or are left untreated.

Wearing a loose, comfortable pair of jeans or shorts without underwear can actually reduce chafing to your genitals.

It helps promote sperm production

The testicles hang outside of the body in the scrotum for a reason. To produce sperm efficiently, the testicles need to stay at about 94°F (34.4°C), a few degrees cooler than the body’s typical 97°F to 99°F (36.1°C to 37.2°C).

Wearing underwear, especially tight underwear, can push the testicles against your body and raise your scrotal temperature. This makes the testicular environment less than ideal for sperm production, causing testicular hyperthermia. Over time, this may lower your sperm count and increases your chances of infertility (although the jury may still be out on this because more research is needed).

Going commando isn’t a miracle cure for all your genital problems. There are still some precautions you should take:

Don’t wear tight clothes when you go commando

Tight clothes can still irritate your vulva or penis and scrotum. In fact, they may cause more irritation because of the rough material bottoms tend to be made of.

You can also still get yeast infections or jock itch from wearing tight clothes that don’t ventilate well.

Change and wash your clothes regularly

Genitals carry a lot of bacteria. Make sure you regularly put on fresh clothes after they’ve touched your genitals, and wash anything that’s been in contact with that part of your body.

As a rule of thumb, only wear clothes that touch your bare genitals once before you wash them.

Don’t try on new clothes

Not only can you transfer your own bacteria to those new jeans you want to try on at the store, you may also expose yourself to bacteria from other people’s “junk” and, as a result, put yourself at risk for infections.

While the benefits of the underwear-free life are clear, going commando is a personal choice.

Don’t feel like you have to do it if you don’t want to or if it makes you uncomfortable. It’s your life and your underwear (or not).