Period Underwear: Yay Or Nay? Here’s What You Need To Know
Ah, periods. As much as we hate Aunty Flow, we end up learning to live (rather begrudgingly) with her. And as our relationship with our body evolves, the one thing that is difficult to let go of is the fear that our period will show up at any moment – to ruin our clothes, holidays and mood.
However, thankfully, we’ve come a long way in feminine hygiene and period products. We’ve got so many options to choose from these days – pads, tampons, menstrual cups and even period underwear. When we started to complain that pads were too bulky, soon came tampons. When tampons proved inefficient against heavier flows, along came menstrual cups. And now that more and more women are finding tampons and menstrual cups too intrusive (they can sometimes cause pain and irritation), we’ve now got period underwear to try out. But what the heck is period underwear and are they worth the hype?
What even is period underwear?
From the get-go, period underwear looks and feels just like normal underwear. So how is it meant to keep you from bleeding everywhere? Well, period underwear has two differentiating factors: the material that is used and the number of layers used in each pair. Period underwear often has special material or extra layers to help prevent blood from seeping through. In this way, without having to deal with bulky pads that move around as you move, you will still have the absorbent protection with your period underwear. To top it off, they’re reusable!
What are the benefits of using period underwear?
Let’s get into it, shall we?
1. It’s good for people with heavy flows or for those with irregular periods –
If you’re someone with heavy periods and you find yourself constantly needing to change your pad or tampon, period underwear is a good backup for days where you may find yourself too busy to constantly make trips to the bathroom. Because period underwear is super absorbent, it means that you will have an added layer of protection should you miss your regular change intervals. And if you experience irregular periods, period underwear can be used as a pre-emptive option for the days leading up to your period – you won’t have to waste our pads and/or tampons!
2. You save money and the planet –
Speaking of waste – have you ever wondered what happens to your bloody pads and tampons? Research shows that, in our average lifetimes, we will go through about 9,000 to 11,000 products. This then translates to 200,000 tonnes of waste per year. If you are wary about your carbon footprint, one time use period products are definitely not the way to go. Not to mention the fact that you end up spending thousands of ringgit a year on these items. Meanwhile, reusable items like menstrual cups and period underwear can last you a few years, if properly cared for.
3. It doesn’t irritate your vagina and you’ll be both comfortable and confident –
The feeling you get when you wear period underwear is very different from what you’d experience while wearing a pad. This is because the underwear itself is much thinner. It has the same amount of absorbency without the bulkiness of pads, allowing you to move better and remain comfortable throughout the day. Additionally, period underwear is free from chemicals and perfumes, it allows your vagina to breathe in it and you don’t have to put anything up your vagina (which can sometimes cause discomfort, irritation and pain). Period underwear can be worn even when you’re exercising, travelling and when you sleep – so you don’t have to worry about leaks or interrupted sleep.
Are there cons to using period underwear?
Will you experience leakage?
How do you know when it’s time to change and what do you do?
As it turns out, there are some drawbacks to using period underwear…
1. It can be inconvenient to wash wear them on days you’re out in public –
Period underwear can be worn for up to 12 hours but because everyone’s flow is different, you may find yourself needing to change your period underwear more often than others. With that being said, it is not the easiest option when it comes to cleaning – you can’t just throw it out. If you’re squeamish or don’t have the proper facilities available to you, then washing out your period underwear in public can be a nightmare. If your flow is heavy, it will take quite a bit of soap, scrubbing and squeezing to get most of the blood out. An alternative would be to have a few pairs with you, so you can swap them out and keep the dirty ones in a sealed bag for when you get home.
2. They can feel like you’re putting on wet swimsuit bottoms –
Because there is nowhere for your period to go but between the layers of the period underwear, they can feel as if you’re putting on wet swim bottoms. Not that this means that it will feel wet from the outside and this, will make your pants wet. No, it’s not dissimilar to putting a flooded pad back on. It’s easy to forget that you’ve got them on throughout the day but when you do have to use the bathroom, you’ll be reminded of just how much you’ve bled that day. In
3. They can be expensive –
In the long run, they can be cost-effective. However, because of how specific the technology and fabric needed for period underwear is, it is no surprise that some can come at a hefty price tag. If you want a pair for every day of your period (and you want a pair that lasts days), you’re going to need to shell out quite a bit.
At the end of the day, the benefits of using period underwear can outweigh the drawbacks. It is up to the individual though – are you okay with having to handwash your underwear? It is definitely greatly beneficial for those who want to save up on buying pads and tampons every month and for the eco-conscious!
*Cover image credits: Background: Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash Smaller image (woman's back): Photo by Huha Inc. on Unsplash