No one looks forward to that time of the month. Of course, there are many reasons that might be the case—mood swings, cramps, acne flare-ups, you name it, some woman somewhere has probably experienced it. But no matter what your symptoms are, what is the one thing we all deal with when Aunt Flow shows up? Blood, and, for many of us, lots of it.
There are quite a few period products on the market: tampons, pads, menstrual cups and now period panties. (We’ve yet to make it quite so far as period pants, but who knows what the future might hold!) So if you’ve been intrigued by this new solution to your monthly woes, here’s everything you need to know.
What are Period Panties?
Period panties let you do what you probably already do on your second-to-last period day anyway: free bleed. While it might make some squeamish, it’s not uncommon, especially if you’re going to be around the house, to let those last remnants of your period go free without an annoying pad or tampon. Sure, you might have a leak or two to clean up, but for many, it’s worth it to forgo the annoyance of using some of the lackluster period products out there.
So what if you could free bleed during your entire period, even on your heaviest days? That’s what period panties let you do. They’re designed to be worn like regular panties or underwear during your period. They’re thinner than you likely expect (even the high absorbency ones), made with unique, layered and breathable fabrics that can be reused repeatedly.
Period Panty Benefits
There are many reasons why you might want to make the switch (at least part of the time) to period panties.
You’re always ready
For one, if you have some period panties tucked away in your dresser drawer, you’re always ready. Then, when Aunt Flow makes a surprise visit, throw them on and go on with your life; no late-night runs to the only open drugstore required. Of course, this won’t help you out if you’re away from home, but who says you can’t keep a spare pair of underwear in the bottom of your bag?
Period panties can be less irritating
If you find that pads and tampons leave things down there slightly uncomfortable, you might prefer period panties. There’s no scent, chemicals or questionable ingredients and no toxic shock syndrome warning on the box.
Period panties are more eco-friendly
If you worry about the impact your daily life has on your local landfill, then you can appreciate the eco-friendly nature of period panties. Since they’re reusable and washable, just like your regular underwear, they’ll keep more waste out of your trash bin.
Period panties will save you money in the long run
As you peruse our various top favorite period panty brands, you may find yourself initially shying away from the price tags. However, keep in mind that you can use one pair of period panties over and over again; some brands claim their period panties even last up to five years. Meanwhile, you’re likely buying at least one box of tampons or a package of pads per month, and that cost can really add up.
There’s less mess
Reading all these benefits and wondering why you can’t just use a menstrual cup and see the same results? Well, in many instances, you will see the same benefits. Menstrual cups prevent waste, are always handy and, for many, way more comfortable than traditional period products.
However, menstrual cups can also be messy and require hand-cleaning and sanitizing. That’s one area where menstrual underwear wins out over menstrual cups — cleaning up is as easy as throwing the panties into your washing machine.
You can find a perfect style for you
One awesome thing about period panties that you probably didn’t even think about? There are so many different styles! Just like you can find so many different cuts of undies at the store — thongs, bikinis, high-waisted, hipsters, hiphuggers, boxer briefs, etcetera — you can find the same types of period panties (yes, even period thongs!). Don’t just assume that all period panties look like something your grandmother might’ve worn.
Period panties aren’t just for your period
While period panties aren’t (usually) ideal for other leaky issues like bladder worries, period panties can be worn any time of the month. If you’re worried about excess discharge or just a surprise visit from Aunt Flo, period panties will have you covered. If you consistently start your period a little early or a little late, but you don’t want to be walking around for days in a pad without seeing any blood, period panties are perfect for you. Just slip them on and know you’re covered if a surprise occurs without negatively impacting your comfort and mobility.
How to Test Out Period Panties
If the idea of no longer struggling with finding a tampon at the bottom of your purse when you need it most is one you can get behind, period panties may provide you with some much-needed convenience and comfort. (And what woman doesn’t need more convenience in her life?)
If you want to test out period panties, you’ll want to do a few things.
Don’t throw out all your menstrual products and stock up on a 10 pairs of period underwear. Instead, go slow, just like you would when trying any new product. Test out a few period panty brands and find one you like.
Try them out on your lightest days first
While period panties are an awesome idea, they’re not a good fit for every single woman. For example, if you have particularly heavier flow days and you know you leak frequently, you might not get the absorption you need from some period panties.
So, rather than don your new period panties on the first day of your period, confidently throw on those white slacks and then head out for the day, try your new period panties during your lighter days or when you know you’ll be home. Then, you won’t find yourself in an embarrassing situation if a leak occurs.
Pick the right fit for you
Remember that period panties are rated for their absorption and period protection, just like pads. You can buy period panties based on absorbency levels: light days, medium days or heavy days. Make sure to pick the panties that will fit your menstrual flow. This will help guarantee your best chances of success. In general, you can expect a light-flow pair of underwear to hold about one to two tampons’ worth of blood.
Our 5 Favorite Period Panties
Ready to start shopping? Here are our five favorite highly-rated period underwear brands that you can order just in time for your next time o’ the month.
Thinx is one of the more well-known period panty brands. The brand offers a quick, personalized test to help you pick your perfect product and then after you make your purchase, you can take advantage of a 60-day money-back guarantee, as well as free returns and exchanges. You also get free shipping if you create a Thinx account.
Thinx offers a huge array of options. Choose from classic fits, boy shorts, hip huggers, thongs, briefs and even sleep shorts. Pick from an array of colors and five different flow strengths (the lightest option holds one tampon worth of flow, while the heaviest holds up to five tampons’ worth of flow).
If you’re looking for a period pant-like product specifically, this is the brand to keep an eye on in the future, as it already offers leggings and cycling shorts that provide a very light level of absorbency.
Knix offers a range of clothing, but it also sells leakproof, moisture-wicking and period underwear. The brand’s general leakproof underwear can hold up to three teaspoons of blood, pee or sweat. Meanwhile, period-specific underwear can absorb up to 20 tampons’ worth of blood, depending on which panties you pick. Choose from various styles, including cheekies, thongs, bikinis and more. Knix also sells its period underwear in sets and also makes reusable pads.
Aisle sells a little bit of all things but offers two types of period panties: boost and base panties. The boost panties come with a sleek pocket in which you can slide one of the brand’s absorbency boosters, which adds about four tampons’ worth of absorbency. The original base underwear, meanwhile, can handle up to four tampons’ worth of absorbency on their own.
While your underwear style options may be more limited with this brand, you will find that there are a ton of sizes (XXS to 5X).
Like Knix, TomboyX also sells quite a few different clothing items. Still, its leakproof period underwear is a favorite due to its full-coverage and inclusive sizing range from XXXS to 6X. Buy panties in singles or packs of up to five, in a limited array of colors and fits. Unlike many period panties, these panties are, in fact, suitable for incontinence, too. Made with cotton, spandex and polyester, each odor-resistant pair can handle up to eight teaspoons of liquid.
Saalt likewise offers period panties that it says are suitable for bladder leaks. Claiming to offer the thinnest and driest fit on the market, the brand sells its underwear in various styles and colors. Since the brand also sells menstrual cups and similar products, you can purchase a period bundle that includes up to eight pairs of period panties, a menstrual cup and more.
FAQs About Period Panties
Got more questions about the best period panties? Need answers now and didn’t have time to read the entire low-down above? We’ve got you covered.
Can you wear a tampon or pad with period panties?
Yes, absolutely! Many women do so just because the period panties add extra protection during heavy flow, in case you have the occasional leak when using standard period products alone. While, previously, you may have used a tampon plus panty liner, now you can use a super absorbency pair of period panties or period panties plus a regular tampon or panty liner.
How do you clean period panties?
It will depend on the brand. Some period panties can be thrown into your washing machine and cleaned like your everyday clothes. Otherwise require hand washing.
Will period panties work for other leaky issues?
Period panties are usually not designed with other potential down-there leaks in mind. However, you can find other panty products on the market designed for leaky bladders, postpartum bleeding and other concerns.
Are there any sanitary worries with period panties?
So long as you properly clean your period panties, there are no sanitation worries. On that note, you may want to wash your period panties on their own, not with other items. Also, avoid washing your period panties in harsh or fragrance-heavy detergents if you’re worried about irritation.
How long can I wear a pair of period panties?
While light period panties will usually hold about one to two tampons’ worth of flow, even if your period panties aren’t full, for lack of a better term, by the end of the day, it’s still recommended you swap out each pair after approximately 12 hours of wear.
Do period underwear work to block smell?
Some women prefer period products that block smell, while others find the artificial fragrances and/or odor-blocking chemicals used in these products irritating. Whatever your preference, you can find period panties to match, either scented or unscented.
Make Your Period a Little Less Painful
There are a lot of things to dislike about your period, but wearing pads and tampons doesn’t have to be one of those things. Period panties can make your period more comfortable, convenient, affordable and eco-friendly. Check out one of our five favorite period panty brands and find the perfect fit for you.
You might also be interested in: The 8 Most Comfortable Bras [And How They are Actually Supposed to Fit]
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