I have to admit, when I first heard of Period panties, I was a bit revolted at the idea. I had a hard time imagining that wearing only period underwear was a clean, hygienic alternative. And for those of us women with a heavy menstrual cycle, it was almost a laughable concept.
Now that I’ve spent time learning and understanding why period panties work, it’s actually a brilliant idea that I wish I’d bought into much earlier.
(I sometimes include affiliate links, which means I might make a small commission off any purchases you make, at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here or at the end of this post.)
What are Period Panties?
Period panties look and feel like normal underwear but with an added layer of absorbent fabric built-in. (No, they do not rustle while you walk, nor do they feel like you’re wearing a diaper.) They genuinely feel like regular underwear, if only a slightly thicker pair.
Depending on your menstrual flow, you have different types/thicknesses of period underwear to choose from, but more on that later. They are excellent for postpartum bleeding and some companies even boast leakproof absorbency for bladder leaks, too.
If you are new to the idea of period underwear, that’s ok, you’ve come to the right place. I plan to walk you through all the questions I initially had and some that others have asked. Let’s get started.
Are Period Panties hygienic?
Not all period panties are made equal and some may have added chemicals in their fabric (such as PFAS) that you don’t want anywhere near your sensitive parts. But there are some awesome companies that have addressed these concerns and are working to make their products as organic as possible.
You can read my review of one such company that uses cotton and bamboo for their leak-proof gusset.
Once you have found a company you love, you are well on your way to reducing the number of chemicals you put in or near your body as period underwear nearly eliminates your need for disposable pads and tampons. For those of us who want that, this is a great solution to monthly period care!
The great thing about period panties is when they start to feel damp, you just switch for a new pair and throw the other in the wash. No more filling a trashcan with used menstrual products. This keeps your bathroom fresh, not to mention the landfills free of sanitary pads and tampons. (Did you know that the average woman uses 300 pads/tampons a year?)
And, if cared for properly, you never need to worry about odor. (But if your panties are smelling less than fresh, a vinegar soak makes them good as new again!)
Are Period Panties Better than Pads?
If you dislike disposable pads for their bulkiness, their non-sustainable footprint, or the fact most are made with less than ideal components, then yes, for sure. Period undies are way more comfortable, reusable, and more hygienic.
But if you are only looking at the absorbancy factor then that depends. Some period underwear can hold up to two tampons worth of blood which would be the perfect absorbancy level for most women. But for those who need extra protection on their heavy days, you might need to consider using an extra insert or menstrual cup with your panties if you are on the go.
Most all companies recommend you test the heaviness of your menstrual cycle against the absorbancy of your panties while you are home to best judge whether period panties are a good alternative to pads or if you need to wear a disposable pad (or reusable pad) with your menstrual underwear.
How do Period Panties work?
As I said earlier, they are absorbent panties that absorb blood (and yes, some brands absorb urine if you struggle with incontinence) that you can wash and reuse indefinitely with the proper care. Honestly, the concept is so simple but brilliant. Because let’s face it, bulky pads have been a dreaded necessity for far too long, especially for those with heavy flows. Reusable menstrual products are a much better, more comfortable alternative.
Now, there’s a lot of questions that revolve around the effectiveness of period pants so let me address a few of these concerns while we’re on the topic of how they work.
How to Wear Period Panties
It is best to try out your period underwear while at home, at least for the first day of your heavy flow. This way you know how much protection you have with them or if you need to use the underwear as more of a backup instead. Some brands claim leakproof protection but you want to test those claims in the privacy of your home, not while out and about.
Although period underwear is comfortable, it does take getting used to, especially if you normally wear pads. If you wear tampons or menstrual cups with a liner, then this might not feel all that different to you. Either way, the mindset that you are wearing only underwear while on your period will be a mental hurdle for most.
What Kind of Period Panties should I Wear During my Period?
Most companies sell options for different absorbency needs. You can buy pairs based on your average flow or you can have a pair for your lighter days and some for your heavier ones. Also, you might have a pair designated just for night use as there are some panties that offer panels that reach the waistband on either side, which makes it ideal for night protection.
There are also different styles for you to choose from such as hipster, bikini, and thong.
How Often do you Change Period Panties?
Again, this is dependent on your flow. Once you feel dampness, you should change into a new pair and wash or soak the other immediately after. On average you would change them every 4-6 hours but if you are having a lighter day or wearing a pair overnight, you can expect to wear them longer.
It makes sense to have several pairs on hand so that you have clean underpants to change into while you are washing the others.
Can you Wear Period Underwear While Swimming?
Most companies claim that you can, but they also say that once the fabric has absorbed enough liquid it can’t absorb more. There are some companies, however, that offer a line of absorbent swimwear that is worth looking into. But wearing a menstrual cup is probably your best bet when it comes to swimming on your period.
Where do you Buy Period Panties?
Period Panty companies are popping up everywhere. It’s not hard to find a company that fits your needs or, since many works with humanitarian efforts, a goal that aligns with something you’re passionate about.
But if you just want to try out a pair to see what all the hype is about, you can find them in most retail locations, including Amazon.
Are Period Panties Worth the Money?
Remember how I said that the average woman uses 300 sanitary pads/tampons every year? That equals about $150 a year. Even if you spend that on period panties the first year, the following year your cost would be zero. And, if you properly care for your panties, you could go a couple of years without paying anything. (It’s also worth mentioning that period panties are HSA and FSA eligible.)
But, if you are wanting to dip your toes into the world of reusable sanitary alternatives without spending a lot, try these instead. They are a much cheaper option that allows you to try alternative period care without the commitment.
Conclusion: What is the Point of Period Panties?
I guess the decision to incorporate period underwear into your life all boils down to what you value, as they were created to give us women a more sustainable option that saves us money. If you aren’t worried about the waste disposable products create, then investing in period panties probably won’t make much sense to you.
But if you love the idea of doing your part to help our planet, you’ll love the sustainability reusable period care offers and period panties make life so much easier for women who love options. At the very least, give them a try and see what you’ve been missing out on!
*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but if I am recommending an item in my post, it is only because I have used it myself or have done enough research on the product to feel it is a good fit for my readers.
About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.