What Is Period Underwear & How Does It Work?

Your complete guide to underwear that absorbs your period

The body goes through a lot during the cycle of menstruation… and it sure doesn’t let us forget it.

The average menstrual cycle is 24 to 38 days, and a typical period lasts four to eight days, depending on your flow. We’ve come a long way in the development of technology of period products, as well as in our knowledge of the menstrual cycle. New products are being developed all the time to make our cycle more comfortable and eco-friendly, so what’s the best option?

If you don’t like tampons and put up with the uncomfortable “diaper” feeling pads tend to offer (we all know it’s true), then period underwear is likely going to look pretty good to you. Before we take a look at period underwear, let’s explore what’s already available to you on the market in more detail.

What Are All The Period Products?

The products that are most commonly used for periods include:

  • Tampons - these are single-use, and have been linked to poisoning due to their toxicity.

  • Underwear that Absorbs your Period - these are reusable and can actually last you up to a few years if you treat them right! They don’t leak and don’t come with the health risks (or environmental damage) of many others on this list.

  • Sanitary Towels - single-use again, and a lot less discreet than a tampon.

  • Menstrual Cups - these ones are reusable but do require getting used to.

  • Washable Pads/Liners - reusable again, but still not as comfortable and secure as other options.

So, what’s the safest period product?
These products all have their respective pros and cons and depending on what kind of period you have and your natural preference. In terms of safety, anything that is external – i.e., you don’t put it inside you – is going to be the safest. The least safe will likely be tampons, due to the toxicity danger if you can’t get it out or forget about it.

What is an alternative to tampons?
As listed above, there is actually a good list of other options. Pads (both single-use and reusable), cups, and period underwear.

What can I use instead of pads on my period?
If you like pads, you’re probably not going to be a fan of tampons or a cup, since these are invasive, so period underwear is the only practical option.

So, What Is Period Underwear?

Period underwear is washable, reusable underwear that is designed to replace pads and tampons or be worn with tampons and cups for extra protection.

With the extra layer involved, you’d be forgiven for assuming that they would feel a little like wearing an adult diaper, but thankfully this is not the case! In fact, they generally look and feel just like normal underwear, which means no awkward, bulky discomfort. (Thank God!)

They feel surprisingly thin, but they come with the added peace of mind that you won’t have to worry about any leakage. Period underwear is simply worn as normally, and because there’s nothing to insert, period pants are also significantly safer than menstrual cups and tampons, as there’s no risk of toxic shock syndrome or injury.

So, now that we’ve briefly looked at why period pants can be so helpful in making your period less stressful let’s have a look at how they work.

How Does Period Underwear Work?

Simple! Most period underwear is made of bamboo and merino wool. It features a layered combination of various fabrics that are specifically designed to pull liquid away from the body and trap it inside the underwear, so it doesn’t leak out.

They usually hold up to two tampons’ worth of menstrual blood, and some brands’ underwear has very small, built-in capillaries, so the evaporation of your body’s moisture happens more quickly. This is particularly handy on days when you want to go to the gym or know that you’re going to have a busy day at work.

Do You Wear Pads With Period Underwear?

No, there’s no point wearing a pad with period underwear, as they both do the same job, and your pad will just be extra bulky!

What about wearing tampons or menstrual cups with period underwear?
Most period underwear is designed to cater for a moderate to heavy flow, but that may mean something different to you as someone else. Only you know how your flow works, and how you choose to use period pants depends on how heavy your flow is.

If you have a particularly heavy flow, especially on the first day, you may want to consider combining your period underwear with tampons or a menstrual cup. On lighter days, or if you have an altogether light flow in general, you can stick to the underwear alone. Again, there’s no black and white way to make yourself comfortable, and you’ll know on the day what will help to protect you from leakage.

Most of the time, however, you can wear period underwear alone, and it will deal with it just fine – it’s really up to your preference.

The only period underwear that can hold up to 5 tampons


How Long Does Period Underwear Last?

Period underwear can last a long time, provided you wash, dry and treat them right.

Many people today are becoming increasingly aware of their own carbon footprint, and are looking for more eco-friendly, reusable alternatives to the things they use every day. Unlike all the single-use products, like tampons and pads, period underwear can last for years.

Can You Wear Period Underwear All Day?

No, your period underwear should not feel wet. The fibers used in making period pants are specifically designed to ensure that your underwear stays dry, and you stay comfortable all day. The fabric has anti-microbial technology woven into it, so you don’t need to worry about germs. It’s actually more hygienic than wearing a disposable pad where your period sits on the surface because the fluid is fully absorbed.

Most period underwear is made using a fabric that contains Polyurethane Laminate, or PUL. PUL fabric is waterproof, so it is ideal as a waterproof lining in period panties. This fabric is also used in menstrual cloth pads and to make leak-proof outer coverings for the cloth on baby diapers.

In other words, your period underwear should feel similar to wearing a pad, but without the heavy, soggy feeling.

Does Period Underwear Smell?

There is usually some level of odor when it comes to menstruation, and this is simply because the body is excreting blood, which is then mixing with bacteria. Smells may fluctuate month-to-month, depending on your hygiene practice, vaginal health, foods you eat, your sexual habits, and the period products you generally use.

However, you should not ever expect to experience any unusual smell on the days when you use your period underwear or smell it while you’re going about your day. The antibacterial properties in the underwear are actually designed to reduce the smell of blood. The fact that the material is breathable should also help to dispel any concerns about odor. The only thing that may begin to smell is old blood, but this won’t be anything to worry about if you wash it straight after using it.

What Are The Major Benefits Of Using Period Underwear?

Now we’ve covered period underwear in detail, let’s recap the major benefits of swapping to period underwear or using it in addition to your normal routine:

  • It’s Eco-Friendly:  we’ve all got to do our part for the environment, and not throwing out several pads or tampons a month is a great way to reduce the amount of waste rotting in landfills.
  • It’s Comfortable: pads aren’t comfortable – and God forbid you want to work out with one. They have a tendency to move around, and can even be visible if not in the right place. Period underwear is as comfortable as normal underwear, but with the bonus that it won’t leak or stain. That’s not to mention cups and tampons, which can cause you to rush to the bathroom mid-squat at the gym if you squeeze your abs too hard.
  • It’s More Hygienic: wearing pads all day can get pretty gross. The blood is right there. Period underwear absorbs the liquid, so it’s not against your skin and protects you from any bacteria throughout the day.
  • It’s Easy to Use: there’s no struggling to get your cup in the right spot, or wondering if your tampon is too absorbent for your flow. You simply pull on your underwear and get on with your life. When you’re done, give it a rinse and throw it in on a cold wash with your other clothes.
  • You Can Use it As a Backup: happy with your cup, but had trouble with the odd leak? Period underwear is the perfect answer, as it will absorb any leaks. Plus, if you get halfway through the day and find you need to empty your cup, you could remove it and continue through the day with just your underwear.

This also makes them a great option for new moms who experience spotting, or if your cycle isn’t as regular as you’d like!

Your period is generally quite an uncomfortable time, so if there is anything that you can reasonably utilize to make it easier and stress-free, you should jump at the chance. The freedom that comes with not having to wear something attached to your underwear, or insert a small cotton bullet inside you, is invaluable.

Period underwear is changing the way we experience life during our period. It’s modern and forward-thinking, made using technology that has always existed, just not for these purposes, until now! Period underwear is far more eco-friendly than its competitors (tampons and sanitary towels). They are genuinely comfortable to wear, with no cumbersome and bulky padding. They’re easy to clean and maintain and will save you money in the long term. Simply put, they are proven to tick the most boxes for the widest variety of people and are said to be excellent value for money, time after time!

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