Let’s Talk About Periods…

period underwear - Boston Moms

Let’s talk periods for just a minute…

If you don’t have one or don’t want to read, feel free to scroll on by. I know it’s a bit of a taboo subject, but maybe you, like me, have some questions about products that might be helpful. So we’re going to go there — girlfriend to girlfriend.

When the pandemic hit, we had a week or two when it was tricky to find lots of paper products, including pads and tampons. Unfortunately for me, that timed poorly with my cycle. I always plan ahead, so I was fine, but it made me think about how much disposable waste I go through (and depend on) each month. HuffPost estimates that the average woman will spend $1,800 on tampons in her lifetime — and that’s just one part of the “pink tax” women pay for Aunt Flo’s monthly appearance. And that’s the fiscal cost of tampons — it doesn’t begin to cover the environmental cost of a product that takes centuries to decompose. I was horrified when I stopped to think about it!

And so, with nothing else to do and nowhere to go, I decided to finally test out Thinx, a reusable period underwear option. Other reusable panties include RubyLove, Knix, or Aisle (formerly Lunapads), if you want to try a few and see what works for you! There are a few other reusable options, such as menstrual cups like the Diva Cup or the Lunette or the Cora. Or washable period pads like Lunapads (now rebranded to Aisle). But Thinx had been highly recommended to me, so I decided to give it a go. I asked my sister lots of awkward questions, which she graciously answered, and that gave me the courage to try them out.

I’m now three months into using period underwear and have no intention of going back. They feel cleaner, are way more comfortable, and make far less waste. I was not expecting to be a big fan, but I actually am! In case you’re curious, let me be your bestie and give you the practicals — what do I love and what might you want to know?

Here’s what I love.

I love that they contain far fewer chemicals, that they’re fully reusable, and that I’m never caught in the lurch without sufficient coverage. They are vastly more comfortable for me than pads or tampons or a reusable cup, and at risk of TMI, I have had far fewer yeast infections or diaper rash irritations since I made the switch. Care is simple — rinse out in cold water after wear, wash with normal laundry within 24 hours of use, and hang dry.

Do they completely replace disposal pads and tampons for you? Do you have to change throughout the day? How many do you need per cycle?

After having three beautiful kids I’ve been blessed with a voraciously heavy cycle, so the first night of my period I do have to use one disposable pad. Otherwise, I complete the cycle using nothing but reusable underwear. I just this week purchased a pair of Thinx’s heaviest flow coverage, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to eliminate that one overnight pad as well.

I own three (now four) pairs. And realistically, to comfortably cover an entire cycle, you need four or five pairs. As mentioned, my first two days are very heavy, so I do change underwear every five to six hours, but that’s an infinite improvement over every one or two hours with traditional pads or tampons. I was *shocked* by how much the underwear was able to absorb before it started to feel full. After the first two days of my period, I wear one pair during the day and one at night.

Do you notice an odor with them?

They do contain vastly fewer chemicals (which mask odors) than a traditional pad or tampon, so yes, you do notice some minor odor. But in my experience, it’s only detectable to those in intimate proximity — and only after several hours of wear. My husband can occasionally catch a whiff when we’re snuggling, but my BFF across the table at Starbucks can’t.  

Do they run true to size?

They run slightly small, in my experience. So if you are often between sizes, order up a size. But if you’re solidly one size, order that size. 

Can you use them for post-partum bleeding?

Sure — absolutely. I wouldn’t use them for the first week, simply because of how heavy the flow tends to be. But they would be a great option for the weeks following, when things become more like a “normal” heavy period. And they’re infinitely more comfortable than those hospital mesh panties and gargantuan pads.

Are these for everyone? No, maybe not. But for me, they have been a huge improvement, and I cannot recommend them highly enough!

Kristen is Southern by birth but has called Boston home since 2008. Unlike most Boston natives, she still really loves the snow and cold. She and her husband have two energetic and kind sons (2013, 2014) and a sassy, smart baby girl (2016). Kristen jokes that she has a master's degree in laundry and a PhD in child conflict resolution — which she uses far more than her actual physics and politics degrees. After seven years as a stay-at-home mom, Kristen went back to work full-time in 2021 as a program coordinator for a research lab at Boston Children’s Hospital. In her "spare" time, she runs her own business (Murph&Moose), serves on multiple alumni committees for her alma mater, and runs half marathons. Her passion is seeing moms feel comfortable in their own skin and less alone in the chaos that is motherhood. Loves: gardening, science, languages, coffee by the vat, running, time with her girlfriends, and the rare moments of silence when all three children are (finally) in bed Dislikes: daylight saving time, non-washable markers, and noisy neighbors who disrupt her rare moments of silence