Have you read those Internet articles about the potential health threats of thong underwear? You know, the ones likening that thin strip of fabric to a bacterial conveyor belt—sliding back and forth between the buttocks, carrying fecal matter forward and triggering recurrent vaginal and/or urinary tract infections. If so, perhaps you said, “So long, thongs”…or perhaps, unwilling to accept visible panty lines, you still wear thongs at times but feel anxious or unhygienic when you do. Either way, the question is this: Just how credible are those reports?

The answer comes from Paul Nyirjesy, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Drexel University College of Medicine and director of the Drexel Vaginitis Center, both in Philadelphia. “Women who like this type of underwear can breathe a sigh of relief because there is nothing unhygienic about wearing thongs. No studies have shown any increase in infections from bacteria spreading from the anus to the vagina or urethra, nor is there evidence of any increased risk for yeast infections,” he said.

One thing you should watch out for, however, is excessive tightness. Thongs, by design, tend to fit rather snugly. But no matter what style of undies you wear—thongs, G-strings, bikinis, briefs, boxers—a pair that is tight enough to leave marks anywhere on your skin also might be tight enough to irritate and inflame delicate anal and vulvar tissues. This could lead to itching, pain and an increased susceptibility to infection, Dr. Nyirjesy cautioned.

Bottom line: No need to worry. If you like ’em, wear ’em.