The Pros and Cons of Period Underwear

Dec 19, 2018 | Body Love, Hurray for Lingerie, Hurray Vacay, Miami Vacay, Thinx, Underwear | 0 comments

Hurray! It’s time for another Pros and Cons article on Hurray Kimmay! This time I’m helping you decide if period underwear really works, when and if you should try period underwear, and so much more. When I say period underwear I mean the technologically advanced styles that have built-in period and menstruation protection. These are re-wearable underwear that you use during your cycle, wash, and re-wear. There are MANY reasons to try them and they may or may not be for you. I’m gonna help you decide what works for you.

You may know by now that I like to think of Pros as “hurrays” and Cons as “what the heys!” The truth is, every person will have a different take on what is good or bad for them, so take these as a starting point and make your own informed, loving decision from there. OK? Hurray! Below are some general hurrays and what the heys along with some information on specific period underwear brands and styles. That’s right – I tried them for you so you can say hurray. Let’s get going!

Psst! Some of the links in this article are affiliate links or a brand partner. I always share my honest opinion to help you say hurray inside, outside, and underneath! 

Pros and Hurrays!

  • Leading up – even when I use a period tracker app, my period rarely arrives on the exact day she’s supposed to. And even if she does, it’s not like she has a confirmed seat on a reliable train. Who knows what time of day she’ll finally make her presence known! So on the days leading up to her arrival, or on the day she’s supposed to start, I wear a pair of period underwear just in case she arrives when I’m busy, and to avoid constantly running to the bathroom to check.
  • Trailing off – for some of us, the tail end days of our menstrual cycle are pretty light. You want something to catch the remains of your flow, but it just doesn’t feel “tampon worthy”. Instead of using a disposable panty liner, I use period underwear.
  • Good for the environment – Because you’re not using tampons, or if you’re using less tampons and panty liners, reusable period underwear is very eco friendly! Huge hurray for this.
  • Less cramping – I’m going to be honest and say I’m not clear on the science here, but I’ve asked MANY people about this and gotten the same feedback: not wearing a tampon means less cramping. Try it for yourself and see if it’s true for you!
  • Back up protection – I don’t usually leak from a tampon, but every once in awhile I do. It’s awful and I’ve been in some terrible situations because I thought I had changed my tampon enough that day, or my cycle was trailing off, only to find it’s oversaturated and my flow is all over the place. Hurray. You can wear period underwear in combination with your tampon or a cup and it can soak up any accidental overflow or leakage.
  • Traveling – I travel all the time during my #HurrayVacay trips on long plane rides to Hawaii and Paris, or car rides to my in-law’s place in the midwest. It’s positively horrid to have to wake up your row of sleeping travel mates (I’m a window gal), or ask to pull over at a dirty gas station bathroom just to check if your bleeding or leaking, or to change your pad or tampon. With period underwear, you can rest (or travel) assured!
  • Thinner than pads – Many people think period underwear will be just like wearing a pad. I highly disagree. The absorbent layers of period underwear are much thinner, move with you with more ease, and stay in place better (because it’s just part of the underwear itself) in comparison to pads.
  • Discreet – Personally, I talk openly about my cycle and don’t mind if anyone sees me bringing a tampon into the restroom. And I understand that not everyone feels that way, or that it’s safe for everyone to do so. Think about how helpful wearing period underwear can be for the transgender community. What? I know! But if someone is transitioning from female to male and needs period protection that is discreet, these can do the trick. That way they can go into a public restroom that matches their gender identity and not have to have the crinkle of opening a pad, or look for a little trashcan to toss their tampon in the men’s room. That means they can continue to show up in a way that affirms their identity, and can avoid hostility, fear, and anger from those who may not have understanding around them. Hurrrray!
  • Postpartum – Having a vaginal birth can mean lots of postpartum bleeding, and wearing a tampon may not be possible. Instead of changing out thick pads, try period underwear. Or wear them as backup, just in case.
  • At Night – I’ve heard that it’s not advised to wear a tampon for more than 8 hours, and sometimes during my cycle I am TIRED and need more than 8 hours of sleep. I’m not going to wake up at 6am just to swap one out. Additionally, my period likes to arrive during the night. And, because I’m laying down and gravity isn’t coaxing out the flow, I often have a lighter flow at night. All good reasons that a pair of period underwear can be the answer!
  • Discharge – Blood isn’t the only fluid “down there”. I was told that not being on birth control pills means more “active” vaginal discharge. This can vary in each part of the cycle from thick and gooey to watery. And since period underwear is super absorbent, it can collect all manner of liquids and save you from leaking through a thin pair of pants.

Cons and What the Heys!

  • Odor – Because your period is going to flow outside of your body, there’s a chance that you will smell it. Now, your cycle may smell like roses or you may not like the smell. Either way, chances are higher that if there’s an odor involved with your cycle, you’ll witness it.
  • Washing Out the Flow – I am a handwash kind of gal because I think hand washing is the best way to care for your lingerie (and thus, yourself). In fact, I have an entire video on how to wash period underwear! Most period underwear brands suggest that you can rinse, and then toss used underwear into the gentle cycle and air dry. Depending on your flow, and if you’re just using them as backup or on the tail end days, there may not be much to rinse out. However, if you decide to use them on your heaviest days, you’ll need to rinse out the blood that was absorbed into a sink. You’ll see the flow rinse away and down the drain, and will need to use your hands to help squeeze it out. At first I was hesitant but now I’m cool with this. But if blood scares you, this could be tricky.
  • Limited Styles – there are roughly 12846103984826 different kinds of underwear out there. And I’m rounding down. But there are only a few period underwear brands so far, and each makes just a handful of styles, colors, and sizes. While new options are arriving and this style is catching on, it’s still limited in comparison.
  • Changing in Public – On low flow days I can wear the same pair of underwear from breakfast until I get home from work for dinner. On heavy days, I wear a pair that can hold up to 2 tampons worth of fluid and I may want to change them out during the middle of the day. I usually change and wash mine out at home. But if you’re in a public workplace, or shared bathroom, that can be a hassle. One colleague of mine suggested getting an opaque wet bag (like what you’d use for a swimsuit) to swap out a fresh pair. Keep in mind, though, that you may have to take off your pants and shoes to do so! But, because the absorbent material will keep the flow from going anywhere, you can keep it in the bag until you get home and can wash and rinse it out without worrying.
  • Cost – Period protection underwear usually costs about $25 to $45 each. Yikes! Depending on how often you wear and change them out, and how long your cycle usually lasts, you may want several pairs to create a cycle set. That can add up! However, consider the cost of disposable feminine hygiene products compared to reusable underwear that (when taken care of properly) can last you quite some time. Mine have lasted a couple of years already!

Period Underwear Brands & Styles to Try

Does period underwear REALLY work? There are many period underwear brands now! Some have been around for years and some are just popping up, and each are different. Below are three that I have tried personally with my honest take on how their styles worked for me and my cycle. Remember we are all different, and that includes our unique flows and preferences. Try out a few for yourself and see how it goes (and flows)!

A note from Kimmay and the Hurray Kimmay team: You might have heard about Thinx in the news over a lawsuit for certain chemicals found in their products. At Hurray Kimmay we aim to be as transparent and accountable as possible, and to be honest we do not have all the details and are working out whether or not these chemicals are indeed harmful, or if it’s safe to continue wearing Thinx period underwear. We loved sharing this brand and their alternative to typical menstrual products and empowering bleeders to be period proud. And though we haven’t worked with this brand in quite some time, we thought it was important to encourage you to do your own research and make a loving and informed decision about what you put on your body. Always. In the meantime, we are on the hunt for more information ourselves, as well as different period product options so that you can say hurray inside, outside, and underneath.

Thinx underwear features four layers of protection: 1) moisture wicking cotton 2) odor-trapping lining 3) super absorbent material 4) leak resistant barrier. I love that this brand is very inclusive when it comes to genders and different needs. And if you are a New Yorker, like me, you may remember their advertising taking over the subway stations and making a BIG statement on breaking the taboos around menstruation and talking periods in public. Huge hurray for that. Their styles are simple, sleek, and sexy styles and available in various rises and cuts, in a size range of XXS to 3XL. Currently, most of their styles are only available in one neutral skin tone, or black.

My favorite styles for heavy flow are the HipHugger and the Hi-Waist (seen here). For my first heavy days I can totally trust them to hold up to two tampons worth of liquid. I also love the hi-waist for that extra coverage and support on cramp days, and the sheer sides are so sexy!The Sporty style has a bit less coverage and absorbency, and a fun retro style look and stylish notch at the hip. This style can hold 1 1/2 tampons and cover your bum the most (which I feel is the most “secure” feeling when it comes to leakproof underwear).Cheeky can hold 1 tampon’s worth of menstrual blood and has less bum coverage, and the smoothest seams of all the styles. I tend to wear these on days when my flow is less heavy, or as backup for my tampon. I also wear these for discharge.The Thong has the least amount of coverage and the least amount of absorbency, up to 1/2 tampon. I wear these on the trail end days or on those “liquidy” discharge days (I don’t know how else to describe them. You know what I mean, right?).

Image result for dear kate logoDear Kate makes some great undergarments and activewear. They started with period panties (I remember them sending information to a retailer for whom I was working for years ago and the concept was way over my head at the time. So hurray to them for getting this out there early on!) and have expanded. They’ve also changed ownership so look for more changes, too. Dear Kate underwear have several layers of moisture wicking, odor and leak resistant material.I bought my Dear Kate underwear myself and I tried out a few styles, including the two below, like the Nellie Hipster Full. I chose the “full”, as in it has more leak resistant coverage in the font and back. I’ve always thought that Dear Kate were meant for backup or light days only, but I just went to check and some of their information states that they can hold up to two tampon’s worth. Perhaps it’s changed since I bought mine, because when I put the Nellie to the test on a heavy flow day, the blood soaked right through. Eek! I do love that Dear Kate has some more adventurous styles and colors, though the options I tried tended to be the thickest of all. It’s worth noting that their current marketing and product images are very “real”, which I adore. I know big fans of this brand, but they’re not my go-to for catching my flow. I use them as backup with a tampon, or on very light days only.

Image result for knixwear logo

This Canadian based brand makes a whole host of innovative products, including “leakproof” protection underwear. This brand sent me some of the Athletic bikini and boyshorts to wear and share. Out of all the brands I tried this one is the thinnest, and the one with the most seamless edges which makes them great for wearing underneath tight pants or leggings. However, it’s also the one with the smallest gussets – meaning it doesn’t extend very far back or forward. Maybe it’s because I’m tall (or maybe I have a long vulva?) but the gusset didn’t go far enough forward for me. My flow tends to flow forward. So unfortunately, the absorbent part couldn’t do it’s job and I wasn’t able to test it out for heavy flow days.As of now, I use them as a regular seamless panty with a quick-dry gusset, and occasionally for discharge (but that also flows forward and I want more protection up there!). Available in sizes S to XXL, they also offer up just a few styles but some cool prints or colors here and there. PS: I would think that these could be great for avoiding sweat pooling down there during athletic activities, too!

Your Turn: Would or have you tried period underwear? How do you incorporate it into your monthly cycle? What benefits can you see from trying out this type of underwear? What questions do you have for me?


Credits: The images in this article are NOT AIRBRUSHED or altered 🙂 You’re seeing the real deal! They were taken by Becky Yee during my #HurrayVacay in Miami. Special thanks to Tobi for the long sleeved blouse, and to Thinx and Knixwear for gifting the underwear to wear and share!