Period Pants: Your Questions Answered

Period pants have come a long way in the last few years. If you have been reluctant to try them in the past then forget your preconceptions, you’ll be surprised by what is on offer. If you have been using them for a couple of years, but haven’t looked at what is currently available then you will be impressed by the improvements. They are no longer a cross between granny pants and a nappy; there is now a range of designs to suit every style and at very different prices. 

This post will help you choose the period pants for you, how many to buy, the design features to look out for and which brands my friends love as well as answering the common questions people have about period pants. 

(AD - Some of the products in this post were gifted, some of the links are affiliate links). 

A variety of different style and colour period pants hung up drying outside
The range of period pants available is huge, how do you choose?


What You Need To Know Before You Buy Period Pants...

What Are Period Pants?


Periods pants are underwear with an absorbent area in the gusset so you can wear them to soak up blood when you have your period. You can also use them for postpartum, for bladder weakness and if you heavy discharge (although there are some specific pants design for if you leaks wee too). The main benefits of period pants are that they are reusable, they are more absorbent than most sanitary pads, the absorbent area stays in place unlike with many cloth sanitary pads and they are just really easy to wear.

Most of the popular brands are designed to be used alone, but there are a few which are for back up with a cup or tampon to prevent the worry of leaks so check the description before buying to make sure they meet your needs.

Do Period Pants Leak? 


Inside the gusset area of period pants is multiple layers of fabric. What the fabric is, how thick it is, the number of layers etc varies between brands and absorbencies, but they will normally have:

-a top layer which lets moisture through and locks it in so you feel dry;
-one or more absorbent layer to soak up liquid;
-a waterproof layer that stops liquid soaking through to your clothes. 

Assuming the pants are well made they wont leak, but some people find the absorbent area in some designs aren't large enough for their needs, particularly at night when gravity is taking blood in a different direction. If the pants have absorbed their maximum amount of liquid there is potentially a chance of a leak if they are squeezed or compressed, but you will notice feeling damp before this should be a risk.

Do You Need To Change Period Pants During The Day?


How long you can wear a pair of period pants before they need changing will depend on their absorbency and how heavy your period is. With a very heavy flow you will need to change them during the day, but for lighter days you wont necessarily need to. Some brands suggest that they should be changed during the day eg WUKA says their pants are for up to 8 hours.

Period pants come in a variety of absorbencies. How much liquid they can hold varies between brands, but the heavy/ super absorbent ones can normally hold up to about 20ml. The NHS say most women lose less than 80ml of blood during their whole period, but I know I can lose at least half that amount on my heavy day so you aren't alone if you need multiple pants in one day. 

As blood is exposed to the air it can slowly start to smell. If you wear a single pair of pants for 24 hours you may notice this, but even those who report a smell say it isn't particularly noticeable. Some brands have designed the lining to reduce the chance of a smell developing.

How Many Period Pants Do You Need To Get Through A Period?


Everyone's periods are different so everyone's requirements will be different. Some people will be ok with a pair of pants each day of their period, while others may need 3 or 4 pairs just for one particularly heavy day (very heavy bleeding might need changing every 4 to 6 hours even with the most absorbent pants). You can mix and match different absorbencies eg for lighter days. The less absorbent pants are often slightly cheaper and can be more comfortable, but the ones I have tried there is generally more of a difference between styles than between absorbency ratings. Less absorbent pants dry slightly faster. 

If you can’t afford to buy a whole periods worth at once you can wash the pants you wear at the beginning and wear them again towards the end of your period. Even if you aren’t using them for your entire period you will still be saving products from going to landfill every time your use the reusable pants instead of disposables.

Close up of 3 pairs of periods pants including a handmade pair from Etsy, Modibodi seamless and Moondog
Period Pants come in lots of fun and pretty designs


How Long Do Period Pants Last?


Most brands say their period pants last around 2 years based on them being worn once in roughly a 28 day cycle. I haven’t spoken to anyone yet who has felt theirs have worn out though and if washed carefully they may well last longer.

How Do You Wash Period Pants?


The easiest way to wash period pants is to rinse them in cold water when you take them off (you can store them in a wet bag or container if you are out) and then put in the machine with your normal washing as long as you don’t use fabric conditioner on that cycle. They should ideally be line dried and not exposed to high heat because that can effect the waterproof lining. Always check the washing instructions on your pants though incase they need something different.

You should wash the pants before first wear and if they are anything like cloth nappies I would expect them to get more absorbent after a few washes.

Period Pants and Menstrual Cups: The Perfect Pair?


While many people wear period pants alone a very popular choice is to use them as back up for a menstrual cup. I’m a big advocate of menstrual cups, but they can occasionally leak if not put in correctly, on heavy flow days or they sometimes leave trace amounts of blood on your pants from when you remove and replace the cup. Period pants are a great way of providing reassurance that you wont get blood on your clothes without using any disposable sanitary products. 

On my heaviest days using a cup and period pants means I can stay in bed all night without worrying about leaks because when the cup is full the pants take over. Doubling up is also great for people who work in jobs where they can’t access a toilet when they might need to. 

A fun long cloth sanitary pad with dinosaurs, unicorns and rainbow print
CSP are cheaper than period pants and can come in fun designs. These are from Fab Pads on Etsy


Period Pants versus Cloth Sanitary Pads (CSP)


One of the big benefits of period pants over cloth sanitary pads is that they stay in place. Like many people I have found cloth pads can shift around or bunch up while wearing them reducing their effectiveness. While apparently the right pants can reduce this, I much prefer the confidence I get from period pants. I have found period pants can be more absorbent for less bulk, but cloth pads are normally cheaper and easier to change. Check out this post for more about the best CSP.

Some people choose to double up with period pants and CSP allowing them to remove the pad when it’s saturated.

Trying out all the period pants styles to see which I recommend this is me wearing Modibodi seamless
Modibodi Seam free in Berry Blush (received for review)

How To Choose The Right Period Pants For You


The range of period pants is quite staggering. You can now get them in pretty much any style you can think of. Yes there are plenty of big, black cotton ones (which to be honest I rather like when I am feeling bloated), but there are also: thongs, shorts, lacy ones and a huge range of colours, plus low cut, high cut and lots of different materials.

Regardless of the style you want and the amount you can afford there are 2 key things to check: level of absorbency and position of the absorbent area. I find longer absorbent areas provide me with more reassurance and work better at night. The pants designed for a heavier flow tend to have a larger absorbent area anyway, but some have the padding all the way up the back and others are just in the more traditional pant gusset area. 

Period Pants: Styles to Note


Amongst the normal pants styles you can get a few surprising options:

close up of the opening on the Modibodi detachable side opening period pants
Modibodi side opening period pants (received for review)


Modibodi Detachable Bikini

Designed for people that want to change their pants without taking their trousers/ shoes off or who have reduced mobility these Modibodi pants have a side opening secured with hook and eye fasteners at the top of both leg holes allowing the pants to open up completely. I was sent a pair to review and found that because of the fastening these are not quite as comfortable as some other styles, but the benefits if you need a quick change or can't easily bend make them a great option.

Support Small?


I love to support small companies and I'm always browsing Etsy so it's not surprising that I headed their to check out what small batch period pants are available in the UK. Having bought a few pairs from different sellers I have mixed feelings. One pair looked brilliant, is great for lighter days and is well made, but the seller is no longer listing them as standard because material is currently difficult to source (Susie is still making custom orders and makes lovely normal pants though so check her out). A pair from another seller were very badly made and are the bulkiest ones I have tried. I'm not surprised that this seller is no longer showing as available on Etsy. My advice is to look at pictures and read reviews before buying.

I also bought some pants from Moondog via Etsy which is based in Canada. These pants are great and good value, but there was an import handling fee added by Royal Mail before delivery which made them cost about £20 each.

Swimwear

Normal period pants aren't designed for swimming, it feels a bit stupid saying that, but the FAQs on multiple brands websites stress this so it feels like something that comes up every so often. However you can buy swimwear with built in period protection, Modibodi period swimwear and WUKA seem to be the only UK sellers currently, but if you swim regularly and are keen on the idea Ruby Love have a huge range of period swimwear and they ship to the UK from America. 

Period pants for teens

Period pants are pretty popular amongst young people who have recently started their periods and I think this is a trend that will keep growing because for most they will last throughout the school day without needing to change anything. Several brands now make a range aimed at this age group which are designed for young bodies and are in fun prints including: 
Sally (from Who's The Mummy) and her daughter reviewed Modibodi RED and found they work really well for Teens even from their first period.

Where Sell Period Pants In Plus Sizes?


Most of the main brands sell period pants up to 3XL, but Flux sell up to 4XL (Size 28 to 30 UK or 141 to 145 cm hips) and Modibodi's "Curvy" range goes up to 6XL (size 26 or hip size 143 to 148 cm) which is the largest I have found so far. I don't understand why the Modibodi ones are meant to be a lower dress size, but have larger hip measurements, but it just goes to show that clothes sizes vary a lot between companies.

Popular Period Pants Brands


The Big Names in Period Pants


When I have been asking people about their experiences with period pants the names that come up repeatedly are: Modibodi, Thinx, Wuka, Flux, Love Luna and Cheeky Wipes. I have heard lots of good reviews about all these brands and I think any of them are a pretty safe purchase (although see my comments below about the Cheeky Wipes pants). 
I have had several pairs of Modibodi in the past for review and I like how they wash and wear, but the seam free bikini style I recently tried really impressed me in terms of comfort and how thin they were. I should note that the absorbent patch is only in the gusset area so I wouldn't personally use them alone at night or on my heaviest days. 

Love Luna period pants hanging out to dry in a classic cotton larger style and a nylon midi style
Love Luna Period Full Brief and Midi Brief are a great lower cost period pant available from Sainsburys


Buying Cheaper Period Pants

There is a huge price difference between some of the ranges, comparing the current price for a classic style in the highest absorbency from each of the main brands you can expect to pay:

So are the cheaper period pants any good? I was sent a couple of pairs from Love Luna which retail for around £10 from Sainsburys. They were just as comfortable as some of the more expensive ones I tried and worked well so these are a great option to try if you like the styles they offer (they also sell some Lady Leaks versions so make sure you get the period pants).

Cheeky Wipes pants are pretty popular because of their price, but I have heard mixed reviews with some people finding they don’t fit as well and feel more bulky than some of the more expensive makes. 
I haven't tried them yet and my biggest question about them is their absorbency level because they don't provide clear information about how absorbent they are (most brands state how many mls they absorb or the equivalence of how many normal tampons). 

All the big brands have sales and discounts during the year and also normally offer discounts on multiple purchases/ first purchase so it's a good idea to keep your eyes out when you decide what you want to stock up on.

Menstrual Cups

I really recommend cups to anyone who has a moderate to heavy period. I first used a Mooncup menstrual cup 8 years ago because it was the only one I had heard of at the time, but now there is a huge range to suit most body shapes (women with a particularly high cervix can still struggle though). I was offered a SAALT cup to try and went for their newly created soft style which was developed to overcome some of the issues women have experienced with other cups. How did I find it?

Saalt soft menstrual cup packaging in mist grey next to the storage bag
Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup (received for review)

When I tried the Put A Cup In It quiz which helps suggest the best menstrual cup for you it said the Saalt soft menstrual cup was ideal for me. I have previously only used a Mooncup so was interested to see the difference. Visually it is slightly wider, has a smaller, softer rim and the holes (for breaking suction) are higher up. The silicone feels slightly softer, but not hugely so. Being an experienced menstrual cup user I found it easy to put in place and remove (although it took a little longer to unfold itself than I'm used to). The stem is softer and I didn't need to trim it like with the Mooncup, but I don't tend to use the stem anyway (it's not for removing the cup, just to help you locate it). You can wear the Saalt cup for up to 12 hours at a time before cleaning it and it's designed to last up to 10 years.

The Saalt cup is slightly more expensive than the Mooncup, but it comes in fun colours, the storage bag is prettier, it has a slightly larger capacity and as a B corporation 2% of Saalt's revenue is donated to regions in need of period care and to fund initiatives in menstrual health, education and sustainability making it a great choice.

I hope this has answered any questions you might have about period pants, but please let me know if there is anything I might have missed.

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Some other helpful posts to check out


***Disclosure: I was gifted pants from Modibodi and Love Luna. Amazon links (to Mooncup and Saalt), Modibodi and Etsy links are affiliate. This means that if you click through and make a purchase I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you if you choose to do this.***

Everything you need to know about period pants
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