I wore period underwear for the day and I swear, I'll never buy pads again
It felt like I was wearing nothing at all...
Sustainability is all the rage these days.
As it should be, waste is not ideal and we need to stop doing it.
And while it's easy enough to opt for a paper straw instead of a plastic one and separate your rubbish into the appropriate bin, when it comes to periods most of us tend to take for granted the fact that there are far more sustainable products out there.
The past few years have seen the steady rise of the totally reusable menstrual cup, but what about period underwear?
What about a garment that doesn't require a pad, but includes a few layers of ultra absorbent material that means you can go about your day seemingly without needing to worry about what's going on inside your womb?
The period underwear in question come from WUKA, a UK brand that is currently selling the product for £24.99 (about €30.00 not including shipping).
According to their website, you can get about eight hours of wear out of one pair on light days, and between four and six hours on heavy days.
One pair is said to hold up to 20ml of liquid, or about four tampons worth of blood. They're also described as "breathable, luxurious, soft, and stretchy."
Here's what they look like from the front.
And here's what they look like from the back, absorbent layer included.
And so in the name of journalism, and generally being sick of spending half my wages on menstrual pads every month, I put them to the test.
(Disclaimer: I am not a tampon wearer. Up until this point, I had solidly been #Pads4Lyfe due to a strict need for comfort and a blatant fear of TSS.
It's probably for this reason that the idea of wearing period underwear appealed to me a lot more than some of my friends who are not accustomed to external menstrual products.
I also wore the underwear on the first day of my period so it should have been the day with the heaviest flow, however I had been spotting for about a week and a half so who really knows? The important thing here is that I was definitely on my period.)
I received plenty of questions ahead of my venture into sustainable reusable period products.
'But won't it be like wearing a nappy?' 'You'll probably leak, no?' 'Won't it be a bit mank just sitting in them all day?'
The short answer to the above questions is: 'No.'
The longer answers, however, can be found below.
Do they smell?
Not gonna lie - I was incredibly concerned that I was going to be extremely aware of the smell of blood while wearing these pants. Or worse, that other people would be extremely aware of the smell of blood while I was wearing these pants.
As it turns out, neither of the above were true.
The antibacterial properties in the underwear are meant to reduce the smell of blood so you won't be walking around paranoid for the day - and yeah, they did in fairness to them.
By the end of the day, the underwear itself didn't smell as fresh as it had done that morning, but it wasn't a noticeable smell, and it definitely didn't smell actively like blood.
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Does it feel like you're wearing a pad?
No, but it does feel bulkier than wearing regular underwear - because, obviously.
While wearing a pad does feel like you've got a foreign object placed delicately between your legs (because you have), this kind of just feels like you've got some thicker than usual underwear on.
They're not uncomfortable by any stretch. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that they're way more comfortable than most of the €2-a-go underwear I've been wearing since 2009.
Just make sure you take a look at WUKA's size guide before you go and purchase any, to make sure they'll fit you properly.
Did they leak?
Not one bit - and I made a point of wearing my favourite pair of pink tartan slacks during the day to ensure that if they did, I (or anybody else in the office, really) would be the first to know about it.
The absorbent part of the underwear starts at the front and wraps right around to the back ensuring that every part of your vagina, vulva, and bum is covered.
The day began with a dull worry that if I moved a certain way I might accidentally spring a leak, and ended with me honest-to-God forgetting that I was on my period at all.
Can you feel the blood?
If you think really hard about it, sure, I guess you can probably feel a bit of it before it fully absorbs into the fabric, but compared to what it feels like when you've been wearing a pad for a few hours on a heavy flow, nah.
The underwear will inevitably get slightly heavier as the days goes on, but in fairness they're absorbing up to 20ml of blood so that's to be expected.
I didn't find this particularly noticeable until I'd actually taken the underwear off at the end of the day though.
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Can you see the blood?
My underwear is black which made for an optimum I-can't-see-what's-going-on-here-at-all vibe.
This made for a more pleasant experience while going to the bathroom, but it did leave me slightly in the dark about how much I was bleeding and how much longer I was going to be on my period.
(Though if I had timed my menstrual cycle correctly and not been plagued by spotting beforehand this would have been less of an issue, tbh.)
How do you wash them?
I've seen a couple of people say they wash their period underwear by hand so it doesn't come into contact with their other clothes.
I, however, am extremely lazy and will never do anything by hand unless otherwise requested so I threw mine in the washing machine at 40 degrees and waited patiently.
They emerged clean and, unsurprisingly, the rest of my clothes weren't blood stained because the washing machine did its job as it was supposed to.
The underwear did take longer to dry than the rest of my clothes, but that's because it's got four layers of fabric so, you know. If you need them to dry a bit faster, you can put them through a full spin or pop them in an airing cupboard.
Avoid using a dryer though because the high heat could damage the fabric.
All in all, a pretty pleasant period. I may just never buy pads again.
WUKA provided three pairs of period underwear to the author free-of-charge for the purpose of an honest review.
During May, Her will be doing some more #ConsciousBits.
Over the month, we'll be learning how to re-use more than we buy, examining the sheer amount of waste the planet produces, and considering the many, many benefits of sustainable fashion choices.
We'll also be chatting to some people who have made sustainability a priority, while setting ourselves a few environmentally conscious challenges along the way.
Change is daunting and we're not perfect, but we can always try to do our bit. Our conscious bit.
Want to get in touch? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.