It was possibly the shortest text exchange that my best friend and I have ever had.
Christy: I think you should get a pair of those period underwear and write about it.
If you are woman of menstruating age, chances are — no strike that — you most definitely are wondering how these magic undies work. The curiosity is unavoidable: Images of period panties — albeit sponsored ones — pop up on my Instagram feed about a billion times a week. I’ve also read countless stories about the young founder of Thinx (the most well-publicized brand in the period panty genre), Miki Agrawal, and her chutzpah, for talking about and tackling something as taboo as periods.
I zipped over to the Thinx website and was instantly confronted with some conundrums to work through. First, there are six styles of underwear, each holding a different amount of fluid. It makes sense that heavier flow times call for larger underwear, while light days can be thongs, but if I’m having a boyshorts kind of day and don’t want VPLs, the underwear might affect what I want to wear that day. And Lordy, getting dressed for work is hard enough.
Next, I start thinking about logistics. Would a pair really last through a whole day? (Tampons don’t.) Would I need to carry around extras and change in the bathroom at work? While sweet Mary from Accounting was in the next stall? What would I do with the used pair? Bring one of those bags that spas give you to hold your wet bathing suit?
Lastly, there’s the cost. If I was really going to attempt a tampon-free life, I’d need many of these things. With a full-time job and two kids, I’m lucky if the laundry gets done once a week. Washing a pair or two every night is just not happening. Thinx range in price from $24-$38 a pair. There is an option to buy more and save more, so that if wanted to buy seven pairs — is that even enough? Ugh, math — it would cost around $160. By my quick estimate, I spend around $5 on Tampons per cycle, so it would be a few years before I made up the cash.
But here’s the thing: Stuff that is healthier is never easier or cheaper. And if you can afford it, it’s often worth it. (Except for that time I was doing two-a-days of fresh-pressed juices. That was really expensive and I think I gained weight.) Plus, not using something invasive that was made in some chemical-laden factory in god-knows-where is very appealing. So, I went for it. I got one pair — the heavy flow hip huggers (which they claim holds two tampon’s worth of fluid) — and waited till my mail delivery and cycle synched up.
First impressions on trying them on: Really soft, really stretchy, really thin and really comfortable. Sort of like an old, worn-in slip but with brand-new stretch. On the chassis (not really sure what to call this part of the underwear?), it was thicker, but not as thick as wearing some mega overnight pad. Barely noticeable. I decided to wear it to sleep on the heaviest day, because I most hate wearing a tampon when I sleep.
I woke up when the day’s first sunlight tickled my face, gave a big stretch, and took a moment to note what a great night’s sleep I had. Haha, just kidding — I’m a mom. In reality, I jumped out of bed while it was still dark out (5:45 a.m.-ish?) because my toddler was screaming bloody murder. I ran into her room, realized she had soaked through her diaper (the irony!), gave her a quick change, got her dressed, went downstairs and got her bottle, got the older one up, and then, finally, when it was my turn to get ready? Well, this is when I remembered about my little trial run. I really hadn’t felt a thing.
As per the instructions, I rinsed them out with cold water in the sink, then washed them with my regular laundry (and the baby’s clothes, as a little redemption for waking up every morning like ‘The Scream’), and that all worked out fine.
In the end, I was pretty damn impressed with how much fluid they held, how dry they felt, and how they didn’t move at all at night. (Three cheers for not having to worry about spotting.) As I got out of the shower and got dressed for work, I did grab for my tampons. I will definitely wear these underwear again, but the price, plus the logistics just make going to a fully tampon-free life too challenging for me. But I’m really glad to work them in. And Miki? She deserves all that press.
Be Well Family is a collaboration with Wee Wander, a site dedicated to helping Philadelphia parents navigate their city. See more in this series here, or keep up with all of Wee Wander’s tips, guides and Philly related parenting help on Facebook.
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