Period-proof underwear: gross or game-changing?

The time of the month is never easy but having the perfect sanitary products can make life a lot easier. Period-proof underwear, while not perfect, has taken me a step closer to being the blissfully happy girl in every tampon ad. As one of the newer products, many people are unfamiliar with the idea or hold doubts about them as a product. After all, wouldn’t they be unsanitary, gross and basically like wearing a nappy? I’m here to debunk some of the worries surrounding period-proof underwear.

For me, the decision began with a desire to try a reusable period product combined with a slight fear of the menstrual cup. When I heard about period-proof underwear, which claimed to feel as comfortable as regular underwear while keeping you feeling fresh and secure, I decided it was worth a try. The brand I have been using is Modibodi, although there many other brands worth trying such as THINX and WUKA.

How does it work?

Period-proof underwear is a multi-layered product which features a moisture-wicking and bacteria-fighting top layer, an absorbent middle layer and a waterproof bottom layer. With all these layers, you would think they would feel like a nappy, but even the heavy-flow pants were no more obtrusive than a regular pad. This new level of comfort is my favourite thing about the underwear. Whereas I was always uncomfortably aware of whatever pad or tampon I was using, period-proof underwear is so soft it feels like I’m wearing regular underwear. If you are also someone who finds sanitary products a tad uncomfortable, period-proof underwear could be a game-changer.

But does it actually work?

In terms of how they actually work, during your period, it differs from person to person. Establishing how long you can wear a pair for is the riskiest part and you will probably spend the day checking your butt for period stains. At first, I thought you had to change your underwear as often as you would a pad and I couldn’t work out how this was economically feasible – was I going to need thirty pairs? The idea of keeping them on for longer seemed unhygienic and possibly a bit smelly, but after scouring the internet for reviews I decided to see how long I could keep them on for, while still feeling fresh and comfortable.

On my heaviest days, I found I was only comfortable wearing a pair for 8 to 10 hours and would prefer to change into another pair for the last few hours of the day. In contrast, on the lightest days of my period I can happily wear a light absorbency pair for the entire day. The moisture-wicking top layer really does wonders for keeping you feeling clean. Once you work out a system of what you need for each day of your period, the habit of knowing what you need and when becomes as natural as knowing when to replace a pad.

How do you clean them? Is it gross?

This is likely the part that puts a lot of people off, but when it comes to reusable period products it’s unfortunately unavoidable – there will be blood. But it’s 2018 and we all know our body’s natural functions aren’t actually gross. Much like menstrual cups and cloth pads, period-proof underwear does require rinsing out: you simply rinse the underwear under cold water until the water runs clear and then put them in the washing machine. This is a downside from the menstrual cup in that the washing and drying process do take a bit longer. The actual rinsing process stopped being gross pretty quickly and only takes a minute, so if I wouldn’t let that factor alone put you off from trying them.

Could they completely replace pads or tampons?

Unless you have an unusually heavy flow, I would say almost always. Period-proof underwear has completely changed my period comfort-levels, both from the softness of the underwear and the lack of stress about changing a pad multiple times a day. There are two downsides that I would say mean they aren’t a permanent solution for everyone: the first is that they are a little expensive to buy a whole cycle’s worth at once. I currently own 3 pairs and this isn’t enough to get me by for 5 days, due to the washing and drying time. I plan to invest in a few more pairs when I have the money spare, but a menstrual cup may be a better choice for some since you don’t need to buy multiple products.

The other problem I have yet to solve is what to do when you are without a washing machine for several days – or one you feel comfortable using – like on holiday or when visiting a friend. On these instances I still fall back on disposable pads, which is why period-proof underwear hasn’t completely replaced other sanitary products for me, yet. However, since the average women will use around 11,000 disposable reproductive products in their lifetime, I think that even a partial switch to reusable products can make a huge difference. Whether you decide to try the menstrual cup, reusable cloth pads or if I’ve convinced you to try period-proof underwear, the ever-growing variety of products mean everyone can give sustainable period products a go.

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