To stop using tam­pons, pads or mens­trual cups during your period? Easily done with the help of period under­wear! At first glance, period pan­ties do not appear to be a typi­cal mens­trual pro­duct, but they meet the same requi­re­ments as other pro­ducts. But they are colour­ful, sexy and com­for­ta­ble! In the US period pan­ties have been estab­lis­hed on the mar­ket for a long time, in Ger­many they have only recently con­que­red the hearts of cus­to­mers. In the end, it is still a fairly new inno­va­tion in the world of sus­tainable period pro­ducts and a great alter­na­tive to tam­pons and pads. From my per­spec­tive it is an important step towards sus­taina­bi­lity, pro­duct variety and com­fort during menstruation.

What is period underwear? 

The con­cept of period under­wear is actually quite simple: Like nor­mal under­wear, only a little bit dif­fe­rent and more func­tio­nal! In the end it is a nor­mal pair of under­wear with a sewn-in fab­ric pad. Mens­trual under­wear is was­ha­ble and can be reu­sed again. It is the­re­fore also one of the envi­ron­ment­ally friendly period pro­ducts that can be used for years. Zero Waste Mens­trua­tion here we come! With period briefs, count­less dis­po­sable pro­ducts such as tam­pons and pads can be saved every month. Good for your wal­let, good for the envi­ron­ment, good for us all! For me per­so­nally, period under­wear is a really great inno­va­tion! Bes­i­des the mens­trual cup, my abso­lute favou­rite pro­duct during my period (of course only if I’m not free blee­ding or as a backup…). And I wish I had tried mens­trual pan­ties way ear­lier. Some­ti­mes you just have to be 28 years old to dis­co­ver new cool products.

How does period underwear work?

Mens­trual under­pants have an inte­gra­ted mem­brane sys­tem in the crotch area, which cat­ches and absorbs the mens­trual blood. Period pan­ties the­re­fore have a little more fab­ric in the crotch area. The briefs usually have a three- or four-layer sys­tem that makes them leak-proof. The sewn-in lay­ers are not noti­ce­able when worn and the briefs look like other under­wear from the out­side. It is a well thought-out tech­ni­que that is inte­gra­ted into the under­wear in a very small area. Each layer ful­fils a dif­fe­rent task:

  • The first layer absorbs the blood directly and trans­ports it fur­ther into the inside of the under­pants. Here the task is to keep ever­ything dry!
  • The second layer absorbs the mens­trual blood. Depen­ding on the model, the under­wear should hold up to the equi­va­lent of one to three full tampons.
  • The third layer ensu­res that the undies are leak-proof and no liquid can escape to the out­side world.
  • The fourth layer is then basi­cally the nor­mal underwear.

Some­ti­mes there are only three lay­ers and two dif­fe­rent func­tions are com­bi­ned in one layer. Or there are five lay­ers and some lay­ers are dou­ble to make the briefs even more absorbent.

How does period underwear work? How do period panties work? menstrual underwear, period briefs, Vulvani

What does period underwear feel like?

You won­der what it feels like to wear period under­wear? And if you feel the blood in your pan­ties? Since the mens­trual blood does not flow out of our vagina con­ti­nuously, but is only expel­led in bat­ches, you only feel a moist fee­ling every now and then. Howe­ver, the flow is absor­bed into the pan­ties quite quickly and the under­wear does not feel wet. Alter­na­tively, you can ‘pat dry’ your under­wear with some toi­let paper when you go to the toi­let. You might also be won­de­ring if it doesn’t feel like a dia­per? When you hold the period under­wear in your hand for the first time, they actually feel a bit thi­c­ker than nor­mal under­wear. Depen­ding on the model or brand, the crotch area of the layer sys­tem can vary a lot. Some will rustle quietly when you touch them. But when you wear them, you can no lon­ger hear anything. My tip: Take a close look at the descrip­tion of the period pan­ties to see how the layer sys­tem is desi­gned. Per­so­nally, I don’t like it that much when the extra lay­ers are sewn in at the back covering the whole butt up to the hem.  But when you wear them, you quickly for­get about the extra lay­ers and mens­trual under­wear does not stand out more than other under­pants through your regu­lar clothes. 

How are the menstrual panties being washed?

After using them, the worn pan­ties must be was­hed once with cold water. It is best to leave them to soak briefly in the sink and squeeze them with your hand to wash out the blood. This may be a bit strange for some people in the begin­ning, but you get used to it quickly. After­wards, the period under­wear can be put into the washing machine at 40° Cel­sius tog­e­ther with other clothes (no fab­ric sof­te­ner nee­ded). It is best to wash them tog­e­ther with dark laundry and let them dry on the clothes dry­ing rack. The dryer should be skip­ped. A quick note: Due to the layer sys­tem in the crotch area, the pan­ties take a little lon­ger than the rest of the clot­hing until they are com­ple­tely dry. So this is quite nor­mal. And voila, your period under­wear is clean again and can be used again!

How long can they be worn?

Period under­wear should be chan­ged every 12 hours during your period. So once in the morning after get­ting up and again in the evening before going to bed. To avoid having to change the bloody pan­ties in public, do it at home befor lea­ving the house. You can also change them on the go and carry them home with you in a small leak-proof bag. 
You are won­de­ring how many times you can wear your period briefs? Actually as often as you like and the func­tio­n­a­lity is still given. Some brands state that period under­wear loses its anti­bac­te­rial effect after only two years, even with pro­per care. Other brands do not limit the life of their pan­ties. So try them out and as long as ever­ything feels good, just keep wea­ring them.

INFO-BOX: For whom is period underwear recommended?

Actually for all mens­trua­ting people! Whe­ther period under­wear is the per­fect com­pa­n­ion for you depends on many dif­fe­rent fac­tors, such as the length and inten­sity of your peri­ods. Every mens­trua­ting per­son also has dif­fe­rent needs in terms of com­fort and func­tio­n­a­lity of their period pro­ducts. For example, I feel very com­for­ta­ble in mens­trual under­wear. Espe­cially if you are dis­sa­tis­fied with tra­di­tio­nal period pro­ducts, you should give Period Pan­ties a chance. Because they are a great alter­na­tive to tam­pons and pads.

  • If you have been wan­ting to ditch dis­po­sable pro­ducts for a long time, these pan­ties are a great way to make your period more sus­tainable and mini­mize your waste pro­duc­tion during your period. #less­waste
  • Maybe your skin is sen­si­tive to the plastic and tape in dis­po­sable pads? If you use pads during your period, you will love period under­wear! Why? Com­for­ta­ble and less waste! Espe­cially at night I love period under­wear. Not­hing moves and it’s com­for­ta­ble on the skin.
  • For teen­agers and at the begin­ning of get­ting your period, when (dis­po­sable) pads are used even more often, period pan­ties are a good plastic-free alternative.
  • The inser­tion and remo­val of objects is also beco­m­ing part of the past with mens­trual under­wear. They are par­ti­cu­larly sui­ta­ble for people who can­not use inva­sive period pro­ducts for health rea­sons, such as vagi­nism.
  • Mens­trual pan­ties are espe­cially use­ful on ligh­ter days or for spot­ting. Because a tam­pon would unne­cessa­rily make the vagi­nal flora dry.
  • If you are expe­ri­en­cing mens­trual pro­blems, ‘let­ting the blood flow’ into the pan­ties can be hel­pful. Per­so­nally, I have less pain during my period if I bleed freely or use non-inva­sive pro­ducts such as period underwear.
  • Period slips are not only exclu­si­vely use­ful for collec­ting mens­trual blood. They can also be worn addi­tio­nally in case of slight blad­der weak­ness or during the post­par­tum mens­trual flow.

Is period underwear used alone or together with other products?

If you have your blee­ding is on the ligh­ter side, you can easily switch over com­ple­tely to mens­trual pan­ties and replace your pre­vious pro­ducts with them. The ligh­ter days at the end of your period are also per­fect for wea­ring period pan­ties alone. Howe­ver, if your period is hea­vier, a mix of dif­fe­rent period pro­ducts is pos­si­ble. The com­bi­na­tion of a mens­trual cup and period under­wear may be the per­fect sus­tainable solu­tion for you. In this case the period pan­ties serve as an extra backup to the cup. If you bleed hea­vier, you may need to change your period under­wear at shor­ter inter­vals – espe­cially if no other period pro­ducts are used. Over time you will deve­lop a fee­ling for when the pan­ties are ‘full’ and should be chan­ged. It is best to change your pan­ties at regu­lar inter­vals at the begin­ning and try out how you feel. My tip: Test your period under­wear at home for the first few times and see when you are comfortable.

How many panties are needed per period?

This is dif­fi­cult to say and quite dif­fe­rent for ever­yone, as it depends on the hea­vi­ness of the period and whe­ther other period pro­ducts are used as well. I per­so­nally do not feel like having to do laundry during my period. If, accord­ing to the brands, it is recom­men­ded that you change your pan­ties after at least 12 hours, you will need 10 pan­ties for a 5-day period. Howe­ver, if you do laundry once during your period, 4-5 slips will pro­bably be enough. If you have a heavy period, it’s bet­ter to add 2-3 extra pairs of period under­wear. If my period get ligh­ter, I have also already worn period under­wear for 24 hours without any pro­blems. Period under­wear can (espe­cially at the begin­ning) also be com­bi­ned with other products.

Have you ever tried an alternative to tampons and pads?

Which period pro­ducts have you already tes­ted? Have you maybe already tried an alter­na­tive to tam­pons and pads? If so, please tell me about your expe­ri­en­ces in the comments below. What is your opi­nion about period under­wear? Have you ever tried them? And if you haven’t tes­ted period pan­ties yet and you still have ques­ti­ons, please drop me a line.

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Britta 
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.