Once perhaps viewed as an unconventional ‘hippy’ alternative to dealing with blood flow, period pants are now becoming that bit more mainstream – especially among the environmentally conscious.
More brands are starting to offer these types of garments in all shapes, sizes and designs.
You can even get sexy thongs that absorb any menstrual fluid.
But if you’ve never used them before, you might be wondering just how effective they actually are.
After all, leaking isn’t a risk many of us want to chance.
Here’s everything you need to know if you’re considering the switch.
The benefits of swapping to period pants
Convenience, cost, and eco-friendly credentials – those are three reasons you might want to swap from tampons and pads to period underwear.
Tampons and pads are disposable products, so create waste by their nature. Getting rid of them can also bring quite a bit of faff, and cause issues. Ever been tempted to flush a tampon? Doing this can clog up your pipes and cause you major problems down the line.
Trading in tampons and pads for reusable, more sustainable, options, such as menstrual cups and period pants, sidesteps issues of waste and potential waterway blockages.
Plus, because period pants can be washed and reworn over and over, just like regular underwear, you could end up saving quite a bit of cash from no longer having to buy period products each and every month.
How do period pants work?
Evie Plumb, an ACET-qualified sex educator working for period company FLO, tells us that ultimately period pants ‘are designed to be worn like normal underwear’.
The difference? Something she calls the ‘magical gusset’.
‘The gusset is made of three protecting layers: a wicking layer, an absorbent layer and a bottom cotton layer (ours are made from BCI cotton),’ she says.
‘The wicking layer pulls your blood into the absorbent layer keeping you dry throughout the day and the bottom layer holds it all in place.’
How often do you need to change them?
Evie says: ‘Most people use one pair during the day and one during the night, but it all depends on your menstrual flow.
‘If you get through more than five tampons a day, we recommend doubling up and using your pants plus an organic tampon or pad.’
In terms of buying a new pair all together, each one should last for up to two years – but could stick around for longer depending on your use.
How do you wash them?
This can be a big concern for people, in Evie’s experience.
She says: ‘The best way to care for your period pants is to first rinse them in cold water in the sink.
‘After that, you can either hand wash with detergent (this will make them last longer) or wash them in the washing machine in a gentle, cold wash (30°).
‘They can be washed with your other clothes, so no need to put them on a separate load, but don’t tumble dry or use fabric softener.’
Can they leak?
Just like tampons and pads, there are different levels of absorbency.
FLO’s hold five tampons’ worth (45ml), so they recommend doubling up on products if you’re especially heavy, for example, by using a tampon too.
‘Often people ask how period pants are with blood clots. We say, If you have the odd blood clot during your heavier days (and if this is often please see a doctor) these cannot be wicked up by the top layer of the period pants. Simply wipe this with a tissue and carry on your day,’ Evie says.
What about the sanitising issue with period pants?
There are concerns that for those with less access to water and cleaning equipment, these kinds of products can actually pose a health risk.
Evie says for people in this situation, disposable products are best to reduce the risk of infection.
If you want to buy some to try, these are our recommendations.
For a ‘medium’ level flow, these should do the trick.
Wuka Basics Thong
Yes, thongs are available too, though you should only use them if you’re bleeding lightly.
Designed to help you sleep soundly, these should last you throughout the night without leaking.
ModiBodi Sensual Hi-Waist Bikini
These cute briefs are designed to be aesthetically pleasing while sorting your period.
Flux Undies Sleep Short
The ultimate all-nighter in a boxer style so you can sleep without worry.
Thinx Super Hi-Waist
Period pants aren’t just stuffy-looking and black.
Hey Girls Super Soft Red Cherry
Period underwear never looked so fun.