Well, earlier this year, when the supply chain for nearly everything was clogging up, we started talking about period products and other sanitary necessities. It got me thinking: if you can’t find Clorox wipes or toilet paper, how long until you can’t find tampons or pads?
While that reality hasn’t come to pass, it bloody well could. And that’s how I got interested in learning more about what I’m calling menstrual lingerie.
What is menstrual lingerie?
Menstrual lingerie, as it were, goes by many different terms. Some call it period underwear or period panties. Others call it menstrual undies or period underpants. And they’re more common than you think.
Recently, I was on a Zoom call with a group of fellow female writers. I told them how, with National Underpants Day happening on August 5, I wanted to write a blog post about period panties. Some of the women on the call looked confused. Others nodded their head knowingly, especially those with pre-teen, tween and teen daughters. One woman reached down off camera and pulled up a pair of pretty Thinx period underwear from the laundry basket near her desk.
So what are period panties? They are reusable underwear that women can wear during their period if they don’t want to wear pads or tampons. Don’t you dare call them diapers, because they’re not.
How does menstrual lingerie work
They’re basically padded underwear designed to catch your menstrual flow and pull it away from your body. I know women both young and old, who wear period panties. They say that, on a lighter day, you can definitely wear a pair all day and it doesn’t feel wet or smell.
If you always have light periods and are a pad wearer anyway, then you’re going to love the concept of menstrual lingerie. For women with heavier periods, these reusable period products like the undies are good for some of your period days, but you may have to wear backup protection on heavier days. Or maybe you just want to go with your regular sanitary products and leave the period undies for lighter days.
Here’s a helpful hint: check out the “Know Your Flow” tool on the Thinx website. It can help you determine which kind of Thinx period panties are best for you and your body.
Who wears period panties
I know a bunch of women who have chosen to invest in Thinx and other brands of period panties. These women fall into a range of categories.
Some have pelvic floor issues that prevent them from wearing tampons and they’re tired of using disposable pads. Others are looking for a more environmentally friendly menstruation product option and like the idea of reusable, washable period panties.
Still others are looking to save money in the long run. Yes, investing in menstrual lingerie can be pricey at first. But my whole thing about being a sophisticated consumer and smart shopper getting the most value for your time and money. Investing in period underwear can reap huge savings in the long term when you no longer have to buy expensive sanitary pads or tampons.
According to period underwear site Bambody, over a lifetime a woman might use 11,000 or more pads or tampons. That’s a lot of money and waste in the landfill.
Period underpants sizes
In all of the brands I reviewed before writing this post, I found a wide range of shapes and sizes for the period underpants the varous brands sold. This is encouraging in a world where many people of certain sizes cannot buy lingerie off the rack.
So, for example, Thinx sells menstrual lingerie in sizes ranging from XXS or extra-extra small to 3XL. There are a lot of women who can fit within that wide range of sizes.
Similarly, Bambody stocks an even larger range of sizes. At Bambody you can buy period undies from size XXS to 4XL!
Additionally, Ruby Love stocks a range of sizes. Including period swimwear and menstrual sleepwear, you can find items in sizes XS to 3XL on the Ruby Love website.
How many pairs of period proof underwear should I buy?
I think the best way to answer this question is to look at your own period. How long does it last? How heavy is your flow?
Another consideration: do you have access to a washer and dryer? If you do, then you can likely start out owning fewer pairs of period panties.
However, if your periods last a long time, your flow is heavy and/or you don’t have an in-unit washer and dryer–or you don’t want to have to hand wash your menstrual undies–then I would recommend starting out with five pair.
Finally, my daughter wears and recommends the Thinx brand. She started with just two pair. However, she moved to an apartment that did not have in-unit laundry. So, she upped her supply to seven pair overall. This way she’s covered for the full week of her period.
What are the brands of menstrual lingerie?
There are a number of companies making menstrual lingerie or protective underwear for periods. The biggest and most popular is Thinx.
In fact, when you Google period panties, the brand Thinx comes up the most. Such as “Does Thinx underwear really work?” or “How many Thinx should I buy?” or “Can I wear Thinx for 24 hours?” I get the sense that, very quickly, Thinx has become the Xerox or Kleenex of period underwear.
That being said some of the other brand includes:
- Ruby Love
- Bambody (makes its protective underwear with bamboo, thus the name)
- Dear Kates
Modibodi brand is popular down under. And when I saw down under, I don’t mean as in underwear but in Australia. In fact, Modibodi is based in Australia, where they call menstrual lingerie period knickers.
According to the Modibodi website, they ship to:
- New Zealand
- European Union
- United Kingdom
Where can I buy menstrual lingerie?
Unfortunately, you can’t just walk into a Victoria’s Secret or log onto a site like Nordstrom or Bare Necessities to buy menstrual lingerie. Therefore, it’s not surprisingly that many of the period knickers brands have their own websites. This includes Bambody, Thinx and Modibodi.
Finally, please visit my blog’s Shop page. That’s where I list links to all of the products I’ve mentioned and recommended in this and my other blog posts.
Period underwear for younger girls
As the mother of daughters, helping my girls through puberty and their first period–and then their monthly periods–was never easy. This is especially true when you get your period at a younger age or before all of your friends.
I was 11 when I got mine. So, I know and remember what it’s like to be in 6th grade or younger and have to worry about pads and tampons.
Teen period underwear
So, I was thrilled to learn that Ruby Love and Thinx both offer period panties for tweens and teens. The Thinx brand of teen and tween underwear is called Thinx (BTWN).
Imagine how much easier middle school and high school would be if you didn’t have to hide a tampon in your hand as you rushed to the bathroom in between classes. Or, worse, feeling the “whoosh” of you know what, worrying that you’ll get up from your seat and have a stain on your pants. How freeing it must be to be able to choose teen period underwear to wear in the days around your cycle, just in case it comes early.
Look like regular panties
Even better these period panties look like regular panties. There isn’t bulk to them and they come in pretty patterns and modern silhouettes. So, if you have to undress in front of someone, they’ll never know that you’re wear period underpants.
There’s even period activewear and period swimwear. No more having to sit out from going to the pool because it’s that time of the month. Man, my formative years would have been so much better if products like Thinx and Ruby Love had existed. And I wish they would have existed when my own daughters were younger and dealing with this all, too.
Final thoughts on menstrual lingerie
Whether you call menstrual lingerie period panties, menstruation undies or period knickers, I think this option for any woman dealing with her cycle is a fantastic, newer option. Also, over time, it’s cost effective and could have a positive effect on the environment, with all the pads and tampons you don’t have to throw in the trash.
Finally, many of the companies making menstrual lingerie also offer pee-proof underwear or panties to deal with bladder leaks. Because one of the fun parts about being a woman is that once you get to a point in your life when you no longer have a period, then your bladder and pelvic floor begin to revolt and hello incontinence. Thinx has an entire line devoted to pretty bladder leak panties. It’s called Speax. So, having that option in pretty panties seems awesome for women dealing with this issue.