OK, ladies. It’s time to shake off the stigma and talk about something truly taboo-busting. That’s right—we’re gabbing about periods today.
Specifically, how to prevent leaks and possibly change the way you manage your menstrual cycle by using period-proof underwear. You’ve likely heard about period-proof panties before, and perhaps even seen the rave reviews on Facebook. But it’s time to address the one thing you’ve all been wondering: Do these panties really work?
I’ll be the first to admit I was skeptical about this underwear. I mean—how does one “period-proof” panties anyway? And if these undies are as absorbent as they claim to be, where does it all, well, you know, go? I was full of questions, so when I had the opportunity to try a pair, I couldn’t say no.
But before we get into my personal experience, let’s lay out the facts and get those initial questions out of the way.
While there are a number of brands out there offering period-proof undies—or at least undies that protect from leaks—I chose to test THINX. After all, thanks to a massive promotional push several years ago, they are perhaps the most visible brand on the market. Could they live up to the hype?
Just an FYI, THINX doesn’t claim to completely eliminate pads, cups or tampons from your current routine, but they are meant to be used as a supplement so that you never have to worry about staining a pair of underwear again. But if you’d like to, the brand says you can “free bleed” directly into the underwear. Just keep in mind that each pair holds up to two tampons’ worth of menstrual blood.
How does it work? The patented technology that makes THINX work is made up of four ultra-thin micro-layers that are microbial, moisture-wicking, absorbent and leak-resistant, according to their website. The brand also points out that this combination of layers ensures that it will never feel like you’re “sitting in your own blood.”
Considering these underwear aren’t meant to supplant pads and tampons (and cost about $30 a pair), you may be wondering, “what’s the point?”
The point, for me, was to recast the way I thought about my period. Rather than some gross bodily function that deserved to be soaked up and tossed in the trash, using these panties helped me to see my period as a natural process that makes me uniquely feminine, and which should be embraced. As Jasmin Jenkins, the Head of Events and Partnerships at THINX, put it, “[These undies] are more than underwear—they’re a movement.”
Movements aside, the brand also points out that THINX is great for girls who are just starting their period and may not be ready to be introduced to tampons, and also for women and girls with disabilities who may not be able to prevent leaks as easily, and for women who are perimenopausal and don’t necessarily know when their periods will begin due to its irregularity.
I should also note that if you start to lean on these more heavily than tampons or pads, you are going to end up saving money in the long run—not to mention cut down on your trash output.
THINX offers a thong that holds half of a tampon’s worth of blood, a cheek-covering pair that holds one tampon’s worth and a high-waisted pair that can hold two tampons’ worth. The idea is to build a set that suits your cycle. If you spot at the beginning or end of your period, try out the pairs that hold less. If you’re heaviest in the middle of the week, go for the most absorbent pair. It’s customizable because no two periods are the same.
They also have pairs made specifically for when you’re working out, and there’s a cotton line for when you need to lounge and be comfy.
Me and my skepticism were pleased to find that THINX felt like regular underwear. The area of the underwear that contains the four absorbent layers (the gusset) feels a bit different, but not like you’re wearing a diaper. And there’s no added bulk. The undies are just as thin as any other pair you own. I swear!
I tried their Sport version, which was perfect because I got to really push these undies to the limit. If you ask me, there’s no better way to tell if you’re going to like a pair of underwear than by working out in them.
After wearing these off and on for the duration of my period, I found that were just as comfortable as any other pair of underwear, and they were far more comfortable than wearing a pad or tampon.
I wore mine:
- in the airport for a full day of travel with pads/tampons as supplements
- while working out and free bleeding!
- for a full day (half of the day with a pad and the other half free bleeding)
- overnight (on my lightest day)
Here’s how it all went down:
At the airport: I can’t express enough how great these are for travel. You can just throw them into your suitcase with your regular undies if you’re not sure when your period will start. I happened to start my period as I was traveling back from the Thanksgiving holiday, so I was able to wear my undies in the airport, with no worries of leakage.
Workout session: I worked up the courage to try these out without any kind of pad or tampon while working out on my heaviest day. And let me tell you—I’ve never felt more liberated. I did yoga while free bleeding, and I’ll never work out any other way when I’m on my period.
Side note: I also tried these during pilates before starting my period just to test the sweat absorption capabilities of these undies, and they didn’t disappoint!
Full day: After my workout experience, my skepticism had melted away, and I had no problem relying upon them all day long. Because of my heavy flow, I used a pad for half of the day, but then I bled straight into the undies for the other half of the day. There were no leaks, and no strange odors. There’s nothing quite like bleeding straight into your underwear with no consequences.
Overnight: Toward the end of my period, when I was basically just spotting, I was able to test these undies out overnight. They were comfortable to sleep in and didn’t ruin my sheets. Waking in the morning to no leakage and hopping right in the shower with my undies on—well, it was almost as good as a cup of coffee in terms of kick-starts.
The THINX website recommends that you rinse your undies by hand first, and then throw them in the cold wash with the rest of the delicates. Do not use fabric softener, as that can keep the THINX technology from working. Hang them to dry, and they’re ready to wear again. You can also jump right in the shower while wearing them, rinse them out and then hang them to dry.
The hype surrounding these undies is real. I’m certainly not the only one who’s obsessed with them. Here are some of the reactions from happy customers:
— Alison (@alisonvanrijn) November 21, 2017
Of course, not everyone is a fan. One woman on the Huffington Post described her experience as a “total disaster.” Others had more mixed reviews, admitting that their new THINX were pretty cool, but perhaps also over-hyped.
In addition, the company was beset by a serious image problem last year when it turned out that the empowerment-touting CEO, Miki Agrawal, had been accused of sexual harassment. She was eventually forced to step down from her position and leave the company entirely.
And, of course, period panties are nothing new. In addition to the other brands floating around today, some form of period underwear has been around since as early as 1967. As one Twitter user hilariously put it:
Still, my experience was awesome. And if you’re still interested in what THINX has to offer, you should also check out their more recent brand of pee-proof panties called Icon Undies, for women dealing with bladder leaks.
It’s not easy being a woman, but it can be. If there’s one thing I learned from THINX, it’s that periods don’t have to be miserable. In fact, they can be downright empowering once you know how to conquer them.