Three periods ago I changed some menstrual habits. One of those changes was an (if not complete) switch to period underwear in place of pads. Together with menstruation cups (a cup placed inside the vagina similar to a tampon to collect the blood) menstruation underwear are the most common sustainable alternatives to one-use pads or tampons.
Before I move on to my experience with period underwear, I need to emphasize that menstruation is a very sensitive and, unfortunately, very uncomfortable affair for many women*. No woman* should be pressured into anything concerning her period (like, anything, really), but I hope that the conversation on a growing variety of (healthy) alternatives to traditional menstruation products also de-stigmatizes the period.
So, let’s move on to period underwear – what is it? Imagine a panty with a double anti-bacterial, extremely absorbing layer/padding in the crotch. It is a sustainable alternative to pads or tampons, and unlike cotton pads has no painful clip or button right at your vulva.
It is also a healthy alternative to pads or tampons, because the technology within the panties is free from harmful perfumes, bleaches or such substances. The panty allows air to circulate freely throughout your pubic area (Disclaimer: I have no trained medical expertise, this is based on what I’vev read and what I’ve felt).
I wanted to wait a few periods before I write about my experience, so three months later I am ready to talk. So, first things first. I love it.
The underwear is extremely comfortable and, unlike pads, do not give me a “nappy feeling”. In fact, it has happened to me several times since that I was surprised to see blood when whiping, because the underwear is so unintrusive that I literally forgot my menstruation on days 4 and after. This also makes the underwear a perfect fit for slimy or drippy days throughout the month.
The panties I bought collect (as promised online) three to four tampons-worth of blood and there is no leaking whatsoever, neither through the crotch or at the sides (fit is essential here, I’ll cover that later). Blood doesn’t stay long in the outer layer, so the feeling is very dry (hence me forgetting my bleeding). There is no smell, no sweaty vagina or thighs – even in the 35 °C we have right now.
That said, the padding fills up quite quickly on strong days and doesn’t work well with heavy clumps. So, I still use normal pads for day 1 (and potentially 2) until the clumps are all out and the flow lightens and then move to menstruation underwear. I know that many women combine their menstrual cup with period underwear on those days, but that is not an option for me.
Second Disclaimer: This article is in no way affiliated with the below-mentioned/ advertised brands. I chose both based on my own research and stand in no – paid or unpaid – relation to either.
After a little bit of research I bought a panty each from Ooia (Slip) and Kora Mikino (Hipster Hannah). Both are European (German), ethically producing brands which was a crucial dealbreaker for me.
The functionality of their panties is similar. Kora Mikino has more absorbing products in “normal” slip or panty style.
When it comes to looks and design, I like Ooia. I also prefer the touch of the material Ooia offers. That said, the only “strong” panty they sell is a shorty which I personally don’t find appealing. Kora Mikino has in general a little bit more of a granny look to them, but in the end of the day I realized that this is really what you long for on your period… I am still considering to maybe buying another one of Ooia’s pretty designs for drippy days or intermenstrual bleeding.
But, in the end of the day, fit and comfort are essential and here, Kora Mikino wins for me. I am a fairly slim person with a beautiful, rather large and very round bootie. When first unpacking, Ooia’s slip was very comfortable to wear, but it quickly went baggy after a few laundries and now doesn’t sit tightly and does the uncomfortable wedgie. Kora Mikino’s panties safely hug my legs, without squeezing and their higher fit is extremely comforting for painful days (think lower back warmth). In my second order I even went for a beige-coloured hipster, because I trust them even under white dresses. If that’s not a final argument in favour of menstruation underwear, I don’t know what is!
When it comes to pricing both brands are similar. Talking about money, I did a little maths. Usually, I would spend about €7 per period on pads (in Poland). That accounts for about €170 for two years, the anticipated functionality of period panties. I now have 5 period panties which works well if I do laundry once during my period (no problem). That’s about €150 on period underwear, plus about €3/month = €70/2 years on regular pads. So, purchasing period underwear without a menstrual cup does not safe any money. If you can afford it, it still is money well-spent. I’d wish for health insurance to cover menstrual products including menstrual underwear – how long-overdue and appropriate would that be?
So, that’s my little review of period underwear and the first non-travel related review on this blog ever. Could I answer some questions? If not – let me know and we can talk about it. I am by no means an expert though, so – besides brand websites of Kora Mikino and Ooia – you could check out the (German) menstruation information platform Erdbeerwoche.