Period underwear – genius or hype?

Can you really go without pads or tampons?

Period underwear – who knew there was such a thing? Basically, they are underwear with an absorbent lining. So the theory would be that you wouldn’t need a pad because the underwear IS the pad.

But does it work?

What the heck! I thought I would try it out. Especially as my five year supply of pads (don’t even ask where these came from!) was running out…

The ad I saw was for a brand called Thinx (www.shethinx.com). They sounded pretty funky, they had cool women posing in their underwear, and, heck, they even donate to some charitable cause.

It was only after I pressed Buy that I realised there was another brand that was Australian – Modibodi – which I guess will be the next to try…

Warning: the following will be a frank discussion about menstrual habits!

The Arrival

The underwear arrived individually packed with trendy illustrations in an envelope that had pictures of women’s lower half (in only underwear, of course) all over the back side (excuse the pun). Just a note for those who were thinking of trying to be discreet with the purchase.

Undies Thinx2

The ‘Sport’ version

I’m not sold.

Undies Sport2

I really, really want to like this underwear. It’s smooth and made of materials far superior to my usual Target underwear and it has ‘Real Menstruating Human’ printed on the front. I really want to love it. But I don’t.

Undies2

My first impression on putting it on is that it is going to slide right back off. The edges seem very loose like some sort of running shorts – maybe that’s the ‘sport’ part of the design. Or maybe it’s just me. The absorbent part is a bit stiffer than the rest of the underwear and it, um, keeps riding up my, um, backside.

All day, I keep worrying about leaking and yet it feels like a used panty liner that I can’t get off. In the end, I succumb to using Traditional Menstrual Protection as there were several hours where it was impossible to duck off if there did happen to be a Leak.

Was I using it wrong? Was I supposed to be replacing my underwear as often as I would Traditional Menstrual Protection? This would be an expensive exercise with each pair $US32.

I did also read that you are supposed to wash each pair immediately after wearing. Don’t know about you but clothes washing is not on my daily agenda. As the meme kid says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I decided that soaking it until washing day would do just as well… Will tell you how that goes!

The ‘Hiphugger’ version

Undies HipHugger2

The fit was better, more comfy, and no more riding up the backside.

I’m a bit more confident that these undies are indeed leak-proof.

At the start of the day, it was almost like a revelation – they were working! But I wasn’t so sure by the end of the day – again it was like wearing a used panty liner that you can’t take off. It would probably work better if I changed underwear halfway through the day. But that would mean investing even more $$.

And unlike a pad or tampon that I could just dispose of and never consider again, period underwear seems to require constant attention. I guess like cloth nappies. As a typical time-poor, exhausted mum, constant washing would have driven me insane so, apologies to the environment, but I only used disposable nappies. So it is not likely that I would now want to do daily washing of period underwear for a week every month until menopause.

The ‘Cheeky’ version

Return of the modified wedgie.

Undies Cheeky2

I don’t know what the problem is but clearly this design is not, um, suited for my body contour (or something).

Again, by the end of the day, it felt like a used liner that I couldn’t take off.

The Verdict

Perhaps my expectations were a bit unrealistic. I think I was (wishfully) expecting amazingly absorbent underwear that just wicked away the blood (regardless of how much it was) all day while leaving the lining amazingly dry to touch.

Instead, they were undies of good material that had an absorbent lining that didn’t leak – but it had it’s limit. Clots or heavier flow were less well-contained and it felt like a used panty liner after a while – though to be fair, it still didn’t leak or stain other clothing.

I wouldn’t recommend period underwear (not used alone anyway) for anyone with significantly heavy periods – it would overload the undies in no time.

The other issue was the tendency to ride up my backside with the ‘Sporty’ and ‘Cheeky’ versions, which became worse over the day as the liner was filled. I think I would stick with the ‘Hiphugger’.

A major downside is the need to wash the undies straight away (though I can’t see how that could be avoided). The underwear was fine quickly hand-washed and soaked until washing day.

Period underwear would suit those with light periods. For more moderate or heavy periods, I would recommend either supplementing with Traditional Menstrual Protection or, if you could afford it, changing underwear during the day. Though, then, how would you wash the undies immediately, especially if you were at work? Hrmmm…

Next stop – Modibodi!