Spandex was first developed in 1959, and became popular in the 1960s as an alternative to rubber. During its early years, it was mostly used in ladies’ undergarments. These days, it is used in all sorts of garments like bike shorts and other exercise wear, as well as underwear.
There are some advantages to spandex material:
Spandex underwear is very stretchy; it fits better because it molds to the wearer’s skin. If your weight fluctuates slightly, you don’t have to toss it out as it can stretch with you.
Unfortunately for spandex fans, there are a lot more cons than there are pros.
Environmental impact. Spandex is a polymer fabric similar to polyester, but with different properties. Pieces of the polyurethane chain allow for stretching, hence the rubber-like quality. The process of making this material requires raw materials along with toxic chemicals. These chemicals not only leach into the environment, impacting groundwater, wildlife, air and soil, but they also may be absorbed or inhaled directly.
Short life. Spandex doesn’t have a very long life, as it often loses its shape after only a few wears. This means you’ll have to purchase items made with spandex again and again, making it rather pricey over time.
Allergies. Some people are allergic to spandex, likely due to a chemical sensitivity, and their skin becomes irritated after coming in contact with the material. While most reactions are limited to skin irritation, more severe and life-threatening allergic reactions can occur.
Infections. Wearing spandex underwear increases the chances of developing a yeast infection or a urinary tract infection, especially in women, as spandex doesn’t breathe well compared to materials like wool, silk and cotton. It also has poor wicking properties, which means it does poorly when it comes to absorbing moisture on the wearer’s skin, often leading to irritated genitals. Doctors generally recommend wearing breathable, fairly loose undergarments that are able to absorb moisture.
The next time you’re looking for some new underwear or exercise attire, you might want to consider the very short list of pros against the much longer list of cons this fabric comes with.
-The Alternative Daily