Why I made the switch to period undies
Recently, I took to Instagram and posted a story letting my followers know that I was open to questions regarding period undies. I quickly realized that so many people are unaware of the benefits of period underwear, both to the person wearing them and the environment. My goal with this piece is to give the reader a basic rundown of why I love period undies, the type of undies I use (Thinx), and how to care for them.

Why I ditched tampons

Period undies are better for the environment than pads and tampons

According to National Geographic, "Over the course of a lifetime, a single menstruator will use somewhere between 5 and 15 thousand pads and tampons, the vast majority of which will wind up in landfills as plastic waste." These products can take over 400 years to degrade.

I find disposable period products to be wildly uncomfortable

A few years ago, tampons started becoming quite painful for me to use. I had already started researching alternatives before this time because I've always known that sanitary products are notoriously bad for the environment. So, with that in mind, pads weren't really a valid option for me. I also remembered using pads when I first got my period and had a strong recollection of them being extremely uncomfortable. 

With the tampons being so painful for me to insert, a period cup also wasn't in the cards for me. That's when period undies came into the picture. Period undies are washable and reusable undies designed to replace disposable period products. 

I already had (incorrect) assumptions in my head about what period undies would be like, and this was confirmed to me again with all the questions my followers asked me: 

  • Aren't they uncomfortable?
  • Does the blood get all over you?
  • Do they end up smelling bad? 

So, let's dive in. 

Answering the most common questions

Are period undies uncomfortable?

Absolutely not. I quickly discovered that for me, period undies were the most comfortable option. You know that feeling when you haven't placed the tampon in quite far enough? Or the rustling of a pad in your underwear? Those aren't issues when it comes to period undies. I would compare them to the same level of comfort as any boyshort style underwear. 

Are they effective at holding blood?

Yes! Thinx period undies have different levels of absorption: lightest, light, moderate, heavy, and super, with super holding up to 5 regular tampons worth of blood. I use the heavy option and have never once had any leaks outside of the underwear. Keep in mind, every body is different and some people like to still supplement with a disposable period product on heavy days. 

As far as *feeling* the blood sitting in the underwear: only on my heaviest day will I occasionally feel it for a few minutes (maximum). The undies are so absorbent that the feeling doesn't linger and will quickly feel dry again. 

How often do you change them?

This will be different for everyone. My period usually lasts four days with my heaviest day being the second. To be honest, I typically get away with one pair during the day and a fresh one at night for the majority of my period. On my heavy day, I'll use two during the day and a fresh one at night. I would describe my period as moderate on the first day, heavy on the second day, moderate on the third day, and light on the fourth. 

What about an odor?

In case you hadn't already noticed, periods have an odor - and that's NORMAL. We are shedding an unfertilized egg, blood, and uterine lining tissues. Period undies are designed with this in mind and are built to neutralize smells and control odors. I have never noticed an odor escaping from period undies, but be sure to change your undies when needed and wash them correctly. 

How do I wash them? 

Most period underwear companies suggest the same wash care: rinse them first if you can (I often skip this step and haven't noticed any issues), machine wash cold on a delicate cycle, and leave them to hang dry in a non-humid environment. You can also try placing them in a mesh bag to preserve the quality as much as possible.

Why I chose Thinx

When I first started trying period undies, I purchased from three different brands. They were all around the same price point, ranging from $25 - $50 each depending on absorbency level and design. Not only did I find Thinx to be the most comfortable and secure (no leaks!), I also found they were the most absorbent by a long shot. 

Thinx is also committed to better access to puberty education as well as donating their undies to those in need. One of their missions in Menstrual Equity: "Inclusive menstrual hygiene policy means comprehensive puberty education *and* free and easy access to period products in schools, prisons, jails, shelters, and all public restrooms."

Questions about period undies?

Feel free to reach out to me anytime at: hello@pridebysammy.com 

March 16, 2021 — Sammy Mermell