Shop the Category: Period-Proof Underwear
Disclaimer: It is worth noting that I am not an obvious target for period-proof underwear. My initial feelings consisted of ‘ew gross’ and ‘I don’t want to sit in my period’. I have a well-honed routine around my menstrual cycle, mostly based on blood avoidance and societal expectation, and it is therefore difficult to write a review without some level of bias.
Personal preference and period avoidance
Being on my period has always been a fairly unpleasant and inconvenient experience. I don’t really want to have to think about my period at all. As I wear predominantly fitted clothing, I wear thongs meaning that sanitary pads are not an option for me - in fact it’s been well over a decade since I used one. My attitudes towards pads has been key to my views on period-proof underwear, and explains my hesitance going in.
Why I prefer tampons: blood management
I don’t like having to interact with my menstrual blood. With a tampon my period is ‘out of sight’ and therefore ‘out of mind’. Of course, tampons don’t entirely remove contact with blood, but they do remove the flow of blood out of the body that can catch you by surprise. I find the sensation of liquid leaving the body without warning to be both distracting and uncomfortable and tampons allow me to be responsible for removing the blood from my body when it suits me.
Why I prefer tampons: discretion
Sanitary pads can make rustling noises, the wings show on the outside of your gusset and it can feel like they create bumps visible through tight clothing. The self-adhesive wings doesn’t always work and they often move when you walk which can be really uncomfortable. Sanitary pads do not feel like a viable option when trying to maintain an active life while on your period.
The products I tried:
24.40USD, 0.5 tampon absorbency
19.80USD, 0.5 tampon absorbency
32USD, 1 tampon absorbency
23USD, 2.5 tampon absorbency
What I learned
I was pleasantly surprised by all the products I tried. I genuinely had no issues with the three available as a thong. ModiBodi was stylistically the least attractive, whereas Thinx was the most akin to my normal underwear, with Dear Kate a close second. I experienced none of the issues I had anticipated, there was no leaking, no feeling dampness and they offered complete discretion.
PantyProp stood out as slightly different: Right now they don’t offer a thong so I opted for their marginally less skimpy ‘hipster’ silhouette. This, combined with slightly bulkier seams, led me to try it as overnight-wear. PantyProp’s products have a unique gusset design which can support an additional sanitary pad. The extra bulk results in a much higher absorbency rate and a feeling of total security. If I had heavy periods or if it was my first period I would appreciate this extra protection.
Here is what stood out to me most from my experience:
It can’t be random that all these products have a black gusset, so when you are faced with blood in the bathroom, it simply appears to be black. While this allows me to continue to avoid seeing my menstrual blood, it does make it difficult to work out when you have maxed out absorbency. The moisture wicking technology means that you don’t feel dampness, so I would guess that you’re at maximum when the underwear starts to feel wet (although this wasn’t an issue for me).
The feeling of blood leaving the body is not resolved by period proof underwear. On my heavier days I could definitely relate to journalist Lane Moore, who described free-bleeding into your underwear like “jumping out of an airplane without a parachute”. On the other hand, it didn’t feel like I was sitting in my own blood, in fact, to my surprise, the products absorbed blood quickly and felt dry to touch. PantyProp was the most absorbent with an absorbency rating double the others I tried. The cleaning process for all the brands I tried does require rinsing which inevitably involves more blood contact than I’m used to, but this only takes about 20 seconds.
When it comes to discretion, there seemed to be two options for how to use period-proof underwear. One is the ‘straight swap’, or using the underwear in lieu of a sanitary pad. In all the products I tried, none presented the issue of rustling, visible wings or bumps through clothing. The same concerns are resolved when using the ‘belt and braces’ method, that is to use the underwear alongside another period product, with the exception of pads.
I am a category convert! Well, let me clarify, I would use these products again as I understand their value and the original concerns I had were soon forgotten. However, it will take more for me to consider using period proof underwear in my current routine. Stylistically those that offer thong options are not far off the mark, and should research convince me of the toxicity of tampons we might get somewhere. The jump from ‘out of sight, out of mind’ to ‘free bleeding’ into my underwear was just too far. I would have to rethink my outlook on managing my own blood, and I’m just not prepared to do that yet.