When it’s that time of the month, most of us turn to disposal menstrual products, such as pads, liners and tampons to see us through. It’s what the vast majority of women do without giving it a second thought.
But what about if you ditched all those period products and used period underwear instead?
Back in the day it wasn’t around, but these days, they’re an actual thing; and there are all sorts of different options to choose from.
Period underwear are knickers, pants, that you wear when you are on your period.
You wear them instead of traditional sanitary products, such as tampons and pads.
They’re designed to absorb the flow of your period and are available in different styles and thickness, depending on how heavy your period is.1
Just like period pads and liners, they incorporate anti-microbial and moisture-wicking properties to help prevent odours, and one of the main things about them is, they’re reusable.
You can use them on their own to absorb your period or, if your flow’s heavy, you can use them alongside tampons or menstrual cups to help prevent any leaks.
Possibly, it all depends on when you intend to wear them during your period and how heavy your flow is.
If your period isn’t too heavy, then you may potentially be able to wear period underwear for the day.2
As with all sanitary products, you can buy light, medium and heavy flow period panties.
On the days when your period’s lighter, you may only need to use just one pair of underwear pants.
For heavier days, you can still wear them, but may need to use a tampon, pad or a menstrual cup as well.
It’s important you take the time to wash your period pants properly because you’re obviously going to be wearing them again.
The best way to take care of them is to follow the manufacturer’s guidance, but generally speaking, you should run them under cold water until the water runs clear.
Then, pop them in with your delicate load and into your washing machine.
Always make sure you use a cold-wash cycle because hot water can cause any leftover blood to become embedded in your period underwear.
Putting it in a delicate laundry bag will help make sure it lasts longer too.
Given all of the different layers and woven materials period pants are made from, it’s best you steer clear of tumble drying them; leave them to dry on their own instead.3
Around 5 to 15,000, that’s how many pads and tampons (and all the packaging that comes with them) are used by one woman throughout her life.
These same products are also winding up in landfill and contributing to the overall global pollution crisis, and because many of them contain plastic, or the packaging does, their impact on the environment is long-lasting.4
Simply pop them on, as you would a usual pair of knickers, and carry on with your everyday life.
While the idea of bleeding directly into your underwear may take a little bit of getting used to, some people find they get on better with using period underwear than fiddling around with tampons etc.
Unlike traditional menstrual products that you flush down the toilet or throw in the bin, many period underwear products are designed to be reused.
Give them a thorough rinse under the cold tap and then put them in your washing machine.
Any leftover blood can lead to bacteria developing, so always make sure you clean them really well.5
If looked after, period underwear can last between two and five years. 6
Because you don’t have to throw them away every time you use them, like you do with traditional menstrual products, which have a lifetime cost of over £12,000.7
We’ve already covered the fact this means less waste; it also means spending less money on these products too because you need fewer of them.
Because they’re just like wearing a pair of pants, the only thing is they include an added layer of fabric that can do the job of a pad or tampon or provide extra protection to avoid leakage.
It’s easy to make the assumption that period underwear most probably looks fuddy duddy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
They come in sorts of designs – thong, bikini-style, lacey, full - making them look and feel even more like a ‘normal’ pair of knickers.8
How many times have you been out and about and started your period and not had any sanitary products with you?
Or, you’ve reached into your bag and found you’ve run out of them? That doesn’t happen with period panties if you set out with a pair on.
Some women may find pads a bit too fiddly or bulky to wear and that tampons don’t feel comfortable when they insert and then wear them.
Period underwear overcomes all of these issues.
Providing your period isn’t too heavy and you’re wearing period underwear that’s designed to be swim-proof, there’s no reason why you can’t go for a swim in them.
Wearing period underwear when you’re on your period is also referred to as ‘free bleeding’, which is a reminder that your period is able to flow naturally from your body (and with period pants on, there’s no mess to worry about).9
So we’ve talked you through some of the main benefits of popping on a pair of period panties, but what are the options when it comes to buying some?
There are a fair few different types of period underwear out there, which includes Flux’s range of bikini period pants.
Available in five different sizes – extra small, small, medium, large and extra large, these period pants are designed to hold up to four regular pads/tampons’ worth of period and are made from sustainable materials.
Lasting for up to three years, this period-proof underwear features a built-in moisture wicking, absorbent, and leak-proof panel that locks in liquid and keeps you feeling fresh and dry for up to 12 hours (depending on your flow).
The classic bikini style offers full coverage minus the bulk, with a soft lace waistband that adds frill to function.
SpongeAlicia says – Way better than pads!
‘I just love these. They are so good for the planet as you don't need tonnes of plastic with pads, and you also save money from not having to buy so many pads. They are also so comfortable. You'd never expect to be able to feel like you're just wearing normal pants on your period, but with these you do feel like you're just wearing pants like any other day. They are definitely a worthy investment.’
Hollion says - Best invention ever!
‘These pants are incredible! So comfy, leak-proof and much, much better then wearing pads (disposable or reusable ones). I have 3 pairs now and use them mostly for night time and my cup during the day.’
Jumax says – Great alternative to pads
‘Comfortable and work really well, even with a fairly heavy flow.’
Williamson says – Great product
‘I used to wear tampons (pads were too uncomfortable) until I purchased these. Best invention ever!’
Not sure if you want to try period underwear just yet? Or perhaps you’ve tried period pants and aren’t too sure about using them during that time of the month?
If you do want to give period pants a try, it’s best to start using them on lighter days or alongside other products, until you feel confident enough to use them.
As for other alternatives to traditional menstrual products, there are quite a few to choose from. They include menstrual cups (which we’ve already mentioned), as well as compostable panty liners made from sustainable materials and wrapped in compostable packaging.
For more options on period underwear, have a read of our article on how to have a zero-waste period.
Period underwear is a pretty new phenomenon when it comes to feminine care products.
This may have been the first you’ve heard of them, or you may have heard of them a handful of times, but not really known the details.
Hopefully, now that you’ve read this article, you’re feeling much clearer about what period pants are, and are now thinking about giving them a go.
With so many benefits associated with using them that are a pretty big deal, e.g. helping prevent plastic pollution and landfill wastage and saving money, they’re definitely worth trying, even if it’s just for one day.
And with so many different styles to choose from, which are constantly being added to, you’re sure to find a pair of period pants that are the best fit for you.
Last updated: 30 June 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.