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We've all been there. You're using a tampon or a pad, and suddenly feel a wet spot. Bad news - you're leaking through your underwear. Now you have to find a spare tampon or pad and make sure there's no blood staining your clothes.
This used to be the norm. Unless you were able to constantly monitor your tampon or pad, there was always a chance of leaking through your underwear - especially on the first couple days of your cycle. Talk to any woman and she'll have at least one horror story like this.
Now that period panties have been around for a few years, women no longer have to worry about leaking through their underwear. These panties can absorb extra liquid and prevent embarrassing moments.
Read below to see how they work.
What are Period Panties?
Period panties are underwear made out of a special fabric that absorbs menstrual fluid. This prevents unsightly leaks that can also damage your clothes and cause visible stains.
There are two ways to use period panties. Some women with heavy flows will use them as a backup in case their tampon or pad leaks. They may also use them in place of panty liners during the latter days of the period when there's only a light flow. Women with especially light flows will use period panties on their own without any other menstrual products.
The absorbency of period panties may vary depending on the brand and style, similar to how different tampons have varying absorbency levels.
In general, period panties hold about two tampons' worth of blood, so how long they last depends on your typical flow. If one tampon gets you through six hours, you may be able to wear period panties for a full workday. If one tampon is only enough for three hours, then you should use period panties with another menstrual product.
Types of Period Panties
Like regular underwear, period panties come in a variety of styles including high-waist, bikini, hipster, boyshort and thong. There are even special sizes for postpartum women suffering from extra leakage, plus-size women and young girls, who may need smaller sizes.
Some period panties are also seamless, which means they won't be visible under your clothes. Most come in solid colors like black, tan, blue and gray.
Generally, you should be able to visit a store and try on period panties to see if they fit well. Some online retailers may even allow you to return period panties if they don't fit. Make sure to look at the sizing chart and read the reviews before ordering a pair.
Where to Buy Period Panties
You can purchase period panties almost anywhere you buy regular panties, including major department stores and online retailers. You can also shop for them through FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com with tax-free healthcare dollars. Some health food and wellness stores may also carry them.
Popular brands include Thinx, Ruby Love, Kinx, Lunapds, Lilova, Modibodi, Anigan and Dear Kate. Not all brands are highly-rated, so read reviews from sites like Wirecutter and Reddit before buying a pair.
Possible Issues with Period Panties
Though period panties sound like a miracle product, there are several issues that women should be aware of before buying their first pair.
Have to Be Air Dried
While period panties can usually be washed in a washing machine, most require that you air or line dry them. Using a dryer can negatively impact the fabric and reduce their moisture-wicking ability.
If you have a small apartment, it may be annoying to find a place to air dry your period panties. Also, some period panties recommend hand washing instead of using a machine, which can also be a hassle.
May Still Need a Backup
While some women may find that using period panties for their cycle is enough, others will still need to use a tampon, pad or panty liner. Still, period panties should be able to reduce the amount of menstrual products you need to use.
If you have a heavy flow, choose the period panty with the super or heavy absorbency level. These may cost slightly more than the ones with a lighter absorbency, but at least you're getting a product that fits your needs.
Come with a Heavy Price Tag
Period panties are generally more expensive than regular underwear. One pair can range from $20 to $40.
While this price may seem extravagant, consider how much you spend on tampons, pads and panty liners. Also, you'll save money if you're frequently ruining regular pairs of underwear due to leaks.
If you want to save money, visit the period panty manufacturer websites directly and look for coupon codes or sign up their emails. Like other companies, they may have special sales throughout the year. They may also offer slightly lower prices if you buy multiple panties at once.
Period products are now HSA and FSA-eligible, so you can use FSA or HSA funds to pay for period panties. Make sure to keep a receipt to prove that you used the money for a qualified medical expense.
Using period panties may seem awkward at first, but they can be a gamechanger if you've had embarrassing slip-ups before.
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A Certified Financial Health Counselor and Student Loan Counselor, she also works as a money coach helping people one-on-one at Conscious Coins. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. She paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years.