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We Tried Out Period Underwear To See If They Actually Work

They're everywhere, but will period underwear really ever replace pads or tampons?

I have fibroids, I had a polyp removed a few years ago, it’s been suggested by various doctors that I "probably" have polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, and one gyno told me that she’d be "very surprised" if she did a laparoscopy and didn’t find any endometriosis, so that’s that.

I also have chronic nerve pain, which often loops my hormones in, which means that my period is a messy bitch who comes and goes as she pleases, lives for drama and loves a surprise party. 

For me, a regular period isn’t necessarily regular, both in timing and flow. Some months are days on end of bleeding up a storm, and others are closer to a regular period. Most months I’ll spot for a few days before things really kick off, which is a nice heads up, to be honest.

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Over the past year, I’d been considering making the change to period underwear, but I was apprehensive about whether it would work for me. Would underwear really be able to contain my period, wick moisture away and also keep the smells to a minimum? Would I be able to sleep at night without ruining my bedsheets? Would I be able to get through a long day out of the house? I was curious.

The babes over at ModiBodi and Thinx sent me a bunch of pairs to try out, so I’ve been wearing them now for two months, a little over two cycles, and I’ve compiled all my thoughts for you here.

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Spotting / Light Days

Because my period can be unpredictable, and because I generally have days of spotting before my period actually begins, I usually wear a panty liner, you know, just in case! It’s good to be prepared for anything, like a girl scout.

When I first began wearing period underwear, I found myself reaching in my drawer for a panty liner before catching myself and realising that I didn’t need one with this underwear.

For days where there’s very little, or a light flow going on, both ModiBodi and Thinx were perfect, in that they were super comfortable, kept me dry, and dealt with any blood without any trouble.

In fact, on days when I was spotting in the lead up to my period, the underwear was more effective than a panty liner, due to their greater absorbency. Why wear a panty liner when you can wear underwear that has the absorbency of a pad? Not having to wear panty liners every day has been great, so for day-to-day use, I’d highly recommend either brand.

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Medium Flow Days

For a medium flow day, I found that period underwear worked well for me. Essentially, any day that you would use one pad or tampon to get through the work day for could easily be replaced with either brand.

The main point of difference between the ModiBodi and Thinx brands was found here, in that ModiBodi has underwear for light/medium flows and medium/heavy flows, where Thinx doesn't differentiate between flows.

With that being said, I found that I was apprehensive about going out after work wearing period panties that I'd been sitting in for a day, not necessarily because I was concerned about leakage or about ~smells~, but more just because I felt gross. Perhaps it wasn't moisture wicking enough, but honestly I mostly just felt like I wanted to go home and change into a fresh pair of undies, which is a mild inconvenience when compared to just being able to change a panty liner / pad / tampon.

READ MORE: Women Wait Longer: Why There's No Such Thing As 'Potty Parity'

Heavy Days

Well baby, now we got bad blood. This is where it all kind of fell apart for me. On heavy days, I can churn through a tampon-like an iceberg can tear through the side of an unsinkable ship. My vagina? She’ll bleed on a thing, she’s a c**t like that, and her favourite hobby is trying to ruin my bedsheets.

For specifics, think blood clots the size of your finger, a massacre’s worth of blood. Yikes! And let’s be real, as much as I feel like this isn't a great time for me, there are tons of people with periods out there who have it much worse than I do. Babes, these knickers may not be for you on these days.

These past two periods haven’t been so bad for me, but still, neither brand was up to the grand challenge of keeping my period contained. In the first month, I bled through my undies, my PJ pants and onto my sheets overnight. Sad! At work, I had to grab a back up tampon early in the day, and then I was stuck sitting in blood-soaked knickers all day, while also just using tampons as usual. It was decidedly not a vibe!

That being said, going into my second period trialling the underwear was much easier to manage. For the heavier days, I still used tampons and used the underwear as a backup, and that was great. After the first day and half of a cycle, I could skip the tampons and go with underwear alone, which meant fewer tampons -- always a good thing!

Final Thoughts

Overall, both brands worked very well for me, and it's great to have more options for tackling periods. I found the absorbency was good, and on my medium and light days, they did a great job of acting in place of a pad. For spotting, they did a brilliant job of erasing the need for panty liners, which is good for the environment and the purse strings.

The main thing to note is that unlike a pad, you’re kind of stuck in your underpants for the day, so unless you’re looking to carry around a change of underwear and a plastic bag to hold the blood-soaked underwear, it’s not your best bet for a heavy day if you’re at work or out of the house. Wearing them on heavy days made me feel kind of gross like I was wearing a pad that I couldn’t change, which was unpleasant, and quite frankly, smelly. It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth, you know?

Aside from the heavy days, the biggest drawback was having to rinse your blood-soaked underwear every day, instead of at the end of the week, which was a mild inconvenience, but hey, it's really no more inconvenient than bleeding for days on end, so what's one more thing, really?

Feature Image: Getty