Period pants seem a great idea – no fuss, no waste, and no discomfort. But, perhaps because they require pretty significant financial investment, they also raise a lot of questions.
What if they leak? What if they smell? What if they look like giant nappies? We decided to step into four of the biggest brands of period pants, hoick them right up and share our honest views.
Are these period pants worth your cash? Find out what happened when four of the HuffPost team ditched the tampons, mooncups and sanitary towels; when we threw caution to the wind and our dignity to the wolves.
“I wish these had existed when I was a teenager” – ModiBodi, reviewed by Tasha
I’ve had heavy periods since being a teenager, to the point of being diagnosed with menorrhagia. Happy days. I feel like detail is important here so sorry if you’re squeamish, but I can quite easily use up a tampon and sanitary pad together in the space of an hour. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like that all of the time – sometimes I can go for four hours and not have to worry, but other times it’s like that elevator scene from The Shining.
So when it comes to period pants, I’m sceptical and very anxious. I don’t quite believe a pair of pants can absorb that much liquid without it going everywhere and I figure this will end in mess and a lot of embarrassment.
So when these pants actually work, it’s amazing. I wear them for the first day of my period – always the heaviest flow-wise and worst pain-wise – and don’t leak at all. Not even a drop. Throughout the day I keep going to the loo to check I’m not leaking everywhere and am shocked to find they just keep on absorbing whatever I’m dishing out. Not only that, but when I pull them up they feel bone dry. No weird smells, no wet feels. Wizardry.
I try the “Sensual High-Waist Bikini” in heavy/overnight (RRP £23.50) in all black (so you can’t really see anything on them) they also rise up at the back, which is useful if you sleep on your back. I manage to sleep through the whole night and wake up with my sheets still intact. The next morning I pop the knickers straight in the washing machine on a hot wash – I’m not keen on them lurking around my washing basket.
On the third day of my period, usually medium to light flow, I switch to the “Classic Bikini” in light/moderate (RRP £18) which aren’t as high-waisted but still super comfy. Again, I find no issues with leaks or smells.
There are some notable downsides, the biggest being price. You need a decent supply of these knickers to see you through your period, but that would get pricey. If they were cheaper, they’d get a solid 10 out of 10.
Even with the price, I wish period pants had existed when I was a teenager as they would’ve saved me the embarrassment of leaking at school and college – which happened multiple times – and I think they’re a great option for young girls who don’t want to use tampons.
Interested? Shop Modibodi here.
“I actually think they’re kind of sexy.” – Flux, reviewed by Sophie
I’m increasingly aware of the amount of single-use plastic I use on my period. Recently I made the switch to non-applicator tampons to try and reduce the plastic waste, but it still feels like there should be a more sustainable option that I can get on board with (sorry mooncup, you terrify me). So it feels like the perfect time to try period knickers – allthough I am not looking forward to the idea they might replicate the sensation of wearing a sanitary pad, something I haven’t done since my early teens.
I choose the “Hi-Waist” (RRP £28.95) and am immediately won over by the way they look. Don’t get me wrong, they are 100% Bridget Jones-esque in size, but I’m all about a high-waisted shape on my body, and the black sheer side panels make them kind of sexy. Off to a good start. Except we’re not, because my period is five days late – and when it arrives the floodgates are truly open. (I’m presuming this isn’t TMI because you’re literally reading an article about periods.)
On the first day I’m late for work because I faff around trying to find clothes that won’t give me a VPL. But once I’m at the office, I don’t even notice I’m wearing the knickers - they’re really comfy and hug your body closely so I’m not concerned about leaks. By lunchtime, when I go to the loo to check on them, they appear to have absorbed everything, save the blood immediately prior to me pulling them down.
No smell, no mess, and I don’t feel like I need to put a tampon in to help out. The only thing I need to get used to is the sensation that there is blood coming out of me and nothing in there to stop it.
As it turns out I also test their endurance for sports, because I have a spinning class after work – I probably wouldn’t have been so bold had I remembered it earlier, but now here we are – and the good news is that they don’t leak. The bad news is that it is raining heavily outside and by the time I get home covered in rain, sweat and my own blood, I feel fairly disgusted.
I chuck the knickers in a delicates wash (I know, I know it says cold hand wash but I’m really not feeling it) and they come out smelling brand new and ready to wear again.
I could think more seriously about using them as a long-term solution – they’d be perfect for younger girls just starting their period and a bit uncertain about other products, or for using overnight – but at £28 per pair, they add up to a sizeable investment even if you keep on top of your washing. I resent paying so much for something I’ll bleed on.
Overall, however, they do make a quantifiable difference to my plastic waste – on one day alone I can normally get through 7 or 8 tampons. Over a five day period that’s a significant number of tampons saved.
“My first thoughts are that the knickers are padded like a quilt.” – Thinx, reviewed by Brogan
Let’s not beat around the bush. I don’t have a particularly heavy flow. After years of struggling with very heavy menstruation, since having an IUD fitted my periods have become incredibly light – almost non-existent, in fact, so when I’m on my period, I wear a pantyliner instead of a sanitary towel. So wearing period pants feels in some ways like a no brainer: unlike those who have heavier periods, I don’t have any huge fears about leaking.
My first thoughts are that the knickers are PADDED. They’re like a quilt – or a quilted top at any rate. Obviously, that’s because your blood has to go somewhere, but once I pull them on, I can’t help like feeling I’m wearing a weird black nappy.
The shape of the knickers doesn’t help really – I try two different styles “Hip Hugger” (RRP £26.67) which is the equivalent of a boy short and absorbs up to two tampons’ worth, and “Cheeky” (RRP £23.54), which is a Brazilian brief, offering one tampon’s protection. In both cases, coverage is pretty full.
For my period, I find the absorbency levels totally fine. However, I’m still worried that I’ll be able to “smell the menstruation”, to quote Anchorman (because who doesn’t love a mid-noughties film reference). But actually, despite wearing the same pants all day, I find this isn’t a problem.
What is more of a problem, is the whole washing situation. Thinx need handwashing and airdrying, which unless you have a drawer full of them means a lot of standing at your bathroom sink daily and scrubbing them. It’s a bit odd explaining to flatmates/partners what you’re doing, to be honest.
One night, after going out for drinks, I realise I haven’t got a clean pair for the following day so panic wash them at 11pm slightly drunk. And yes, you are supposed to hand wash all your underwear in theory, but who really has time?
But the biggest issue for me is value for money. These pants cost almost 25 quid a pair. Given how light my period is, I tend to not use more than two or three pantyliners per day. Other women with heavier flows may find period pants make better financial sense. But with a packet of 30 pantyliners costing £2, I’d have to use these three pairs of knickers for the next three years just to break even.
Sound more up your street? Shop at Thinx here.
“They feel quite chunky at first, but I get used to them.” – Wuka, reviewed by Becky
I’ve always been keen to try an alternative to disposable tampons that will end up in landfill. But something about menstrual cups – maybe the thought of emptying your period in the loo – has always put me off, so resuable period pants feel like a great alternative.
I try Wuka’s “three-pack cycle set” (RRP £74.97) which contains three pairs of knickers. Each pair promises to hold up to eight hours of blood on light days, and four to six on heavy days, or the whole night’s worth.
According to the sizing guide, the knickers are generous but they come up about right for me. I’m at a stage in life where I love wearing the comfiest baggy knickers possible so the elasticated waist band takes a little bit of getting used to and I worry about unwanted bulges if I don’t pull them up high enough.
The pants work by using four layers of fabric on the gusset for absorption, so they feel quite chunky at first – almost like wearing a sanitary pad covered in material – but they’re fine once I get used to them. So much so that I sometimes wear them on non-period days when I’ve forgotten to do washing.
The negatives? I have a heavy flow on my first day, and after wearing the knickers for a while, I find they get that distinct period whiff and I need to change them. When my period is lighter, however, they’re fine to wear for a full work day.
You also need to be pretty organised. Wuka recommend changing the knickers after eight hours, which means bringing a second pair into work with you, or risking that extra couple of hours. (Spoiler: I wore my pants over the eight hours on a lighter day, and it was totally fine).
You’ll also need to wash them during your period and they take way longer than usual pants to dry – Wuka advise a line dry, but unfortunately I live in a flat with no outdoor space. All this said: I love the idea and I will be sticking with them in the future. So comfy, good for the environment and they will encourage me to get organised.
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