I Tried Period Underwear for a Week, and Here’s What Happened

Can high-tech undies make your pads and tampons ancient history?

When it comes to managing your period, there’s an insane number of products on drugstore shelves. And as if the endless options for tampons (including organic tampons), pads, and menstrual cups weren’t overwhelming enough, period panties have arrived on the scene. But what the heck are period panties and should you go out and buy a pair? I tested out this fashion-meets-function trend, though not all that enthusiastically at first, to be honest.

What is period underwear?

Full disclosure, I get queasy at the sight of blood and my period is no exception, so the thought of wearing soggy, bloody underwear didn’t sound all too appealing. And I didn’t exactly love the idea of wearing what I thought would be a glorified diaper. I certainly didn’t care to spend $24 to $39 on said glorified diaper. But I put my fears aside and spent three days wearing period panties. Here’s what happened.

When I Googled “period panties,” it didn’t rack up a ton of hits, but I found some major brands like Lunapads, Anigan, Dear Kate, and Thinx, which all offer different versions of the same product. I decided to go with a beige thong from Thinx because they had the most variety—plus, each purchase helps fund period products for some of the 100 million girls in developing countries who might otherwise miss school just because it’s that time of the month. (Here are 8 period problems you shouldn’t ignore.)

Thinx offers six different types of styles, including hiphuggers, boyshorts, and cheeky, all with different levels of absorbency. For example, the thong holds half a tampon’s worth of blood compared to the hiphugger, which can hold two tampons’ worth. While I appreciate the variety of styles and cuts, I found it hard to measure what exactly a half tampon’s worth of blood equates to, and I wasn’t sure how long I could wear the underwear without blood leaking all over my clothes.

What it’s like to wear period underwear

Considering that the panties can be worn without a tampon or pad, I was expecting them to be super thick and uncomfortable, but they were actually really similar to an average pair of undies. In fact, they looked and felt exactly like my favorite pair of lace Hanky Pankys—super comfy! That said, I wore a tampon with the thong the first day because I didn’t want to take the risk of leakage at work. All went well and I even forgot I was wearing “special” underwear. Sadly, I woke up to a bloody mess all over my PJs and white sheets when I wore just the panties to bed the following night. On the third day, I decided to be brave and went to work with panties, sans tampon for six hours, and had no issues. Keep an eye out for these things your period is trying to tell you.

The pros and cons of wearing period underwear

On the pro side, besides running to the bathroom more than usual to make sure my pants were spot-free, I liked not having to wear a tampon. On the con side, I had to rinse the panties under cold water before throwing them in the washer, per the washing directions. As someone who finds blood repulsive and hates doing laundry as it is, this was definitely a detractor. And there’s plenty of other things going on inside your body when you have your period, besides your period.

So while I might not be quite ready to permanently trade in tampons, I would certainly recommend giving period panties a try, especially on days when you have a light flow. In general, I really like the idea of reusable, environmentally friendly period products, and I’m happy to support a company that gives back to girls around the world.

Sources
  • Womenshealth.gov: "How often should I change my pad, tampon, menstrual cup, sponge, or period panties?"
Medically reviewed by Tia Jackson-Bey, MD, on January 09, 2020