A couple months ago, after years of ignoring relentless social media ads, I finally tried period underwear. (We’ll go with underwear instead of that dreaded “p” word.) It took me so long to get a pair because when I first heard about it, the concept was confusing and slightly icky. How could period underwear possibly be absorbent and comfortable without being messy or diaper-like? Also, I had things pretty well covered with tampons and pads, so did I really need to add this to the mix?
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Turns out, I did. After a blissful few years that were largely period-free thanks to two pregnancies and extended breastfeeding with both kids, tampons and pads returned as an irritating part of my monthly routine. I wanted to simplify that time of the month, so I started looking for products that were 1) more eco-friendly, and 2) low-maintenance.
Why I started using period underwear
First, I disliked throwing away so much trash and plastic, and I resented the chore and expense of purchasing supplies regularly.
Second, as a stay-at-home mom to two little kids who rarely respect bathroom privacy, changing out period products is something I’d rather not do frequently. We also go on a lot of outdoor adventures with no access to public bathrooms, so I needed something that would last for many hours and basically make me forget I had my period.
Third, I started using a menstrual cup as part of my quest to streamline my period. It’s taken a while to get the hang of it—I tried three different brands and settled on this one— but I like that it’s zero-waste and I don’t have to change it often. I still worry about leaks, though, and period underwear seemed like the perfect backup protection.
My first experience with period underwear
I wore the underwear with the menstrual cup the first two days of my period. The underwear style I bought was rated “heavy absorbency” and said to hold up to four tampons worth, but I didn’t want it to be my sole protection on the heavy days. I found it hard to gauge when they were getting “full” and didn’t want to worry about having another pair on me to change into. The last couple days I just wore the underwear alone, which felt very freeing.
I especially liked wearing them to bed and not having to worry about a pad shifting around while I slept. A lot of period underwear brands even make sleep shorts, which may be my next purchase.
The underwear never felt wet, and I never noticed an odor. While they weren’t 100 percent cotton like my regular underwear, they were still pretty breathable and comfortable. I forgot I was wearing anything special, which was precisely my goal. I definitely plan to purchase more, and I hope that someday soon I’ll say goodbye to tampons and pads for good.
Here are some things to consider if you’re interested in trying period underwear.
Benefits of period underwear
- Environmentally friendly
- Stress-free backup protection if you’re wearing a menstrual cup or tampon. No more worrying about leaks!
- Great as sole protection on lighter days
- Takes away the worry of being caught without a pad or tampon
- Great to sleep in (won’t shift around like a pad) and for working out
- Cheaper in the long run than buying disposable products regularly
- Comfortable, moisture-wicking, and odor-neutralizing
- Come in a variety of styles, from high-waist to bikini to hiphugger (and even thong)
- Easy option for girls who are new to using period products
Drawbacks to period underwear
- High upfront cost. Many of the brands average $30-$45 per pair, and you’ll probably need at least a few pairs if you want to wear them regularly throughout your period.
- Must be hung to dry (another reason why you need multiple pairs)
- Not as breathable as 100 percent cotton underwear
- May not work as sole protection on heavy days, as it can be hard to tell when they are “full” and you need to change them
Where to buy period underwear