A few months ago, I wrote about my reservations to try the Diva Cup. I still am hesitant to use a menstrual cup. I wish I could have a triumphant story about the Diva Cup and my success with it, such as: “It changed my life!! I am never going back!!” However, the Diva Cup has been hiding in my drawer, staring at me every time my period comes around, waiting. After a few failed attempts to use the product and general discomfort, I decided to pursue an alternative to this alternate period product. I may try again at some point, but I am not ready at this point, and that is okay.
When I wrote about the Diva Cup, a few of my friends suggested trying Thinx period panties. I had seen them or other brands mentioned a couple of times in videos and articles about sustainable period products. I was hesitant to pursue them, especially because of the cost. After seeing Rosianna Halse Rojas’ video about Thinx, though, I was determined to at least try. (Ingrid Nilsen also made some awesome videos about sustainable period products, such as this one, that are worth checking out.)
Making My Order and First Impressions
I ordered them almost spontaneously after staring at my online cart for nearly a week. The Thinx website is super easy to navigate. It has a lot of information about the product and how it works that were really helpful. I struggled a bit with deciding which size, since my proportions can be between sizes, depending on the company. When I finally completed my order, I was excited. I could not wait for them to arrive so I could see what the hype was about. They arrived in a small, rather inconspicuous package. It took me a few hours after picking them up to open the package and actually try them on. The packaging is sensible. Each pair is individually packaged with a cardboard case that tells the size, color, and style. The images on the front are funny and clever, making me want to keep them forever. Lucky for me, each pair fit perfectly. It was a dream. They were so comfortable, but it was not yet their time.
Unfortunately, my order arrived right after the end of my period, so I could not use them right away. As the website and the follow-up emails proclaim, however, they made me excited for my next period! It sounds ridiculous given the symptoms and the discomfort that often accompany menstruation, but I looked forward to having something new to try. Though my period came with a vengeance four weeks later, I anxiously and eagerly allotted the period panties I had purchased to different days of my period.
The panties come in different styles that retain different amounts of blood. As I have only used them once, I am still trying to work out how long I can wear them according to my flow. Naturally, everyone’s flow is different, and how long you can wear a pair for should be based around how long you wear other menstrual products. The pairs I bought are meant for heavier days. They can be worn to supplement a menstrual cup or tampon, or worn solo. Generally, they hold 1 ½ to 2 tampons worth of blood. Timewise, that should be around 10-12 hours, depending on your flow and which day of your cycle you are at when you wear them. (I calculated this myself, so as a humanities major, I am prone to error.)In order to test them most broadly, I wore one pair overnight on a heavier day, one pair the following day of a heavier day, and one pair during the day of a lighter day. I loved how comfortable they were when I tried them on, and I was happy to feel that they still were when my body was in far less comfort overall. I cannot say this enough. They are so comfortable. They don’t feel like a diaper the way big pads often do. They also made me feel cleaner, though I can’t quite explain why, but that only amplified my comfort.
I was a bit anxious about leaking when I wore them, but from the first time since I began menstruating, I had no leaking issues. On the full day of wearing them, I had a bit of a scare and used an extra pad just in case, but I think that was more my anxiety than an actual necessity. I am going to double check upon my next period. On the lighter day, I was more than safe since I wasn’t bleeding nearly as much.
Since I only have the three pairs at this time, I had to supplement the panties with regular pads. After wearing the panties, the pads I had been using for so much of my life felt so much stranger and less comfortable than they ever had previously. Having the panties made me far more aware of how plastic-y a single-use pad feels, and it made me miss the comfort of the panties.
Details: Colors, Styles, Care, and Price
Most of the Thinx panties come in both black and a nude color. The nude color is still lined in black, which was one of my concerns when I saw that they had a nude option at all. My favorite pair have the slogan “real menstruating human” on it. I love that this line is trans*-inclusive, not equating womanhood with possessing a vagina or the ability to menstruate. I had to get them, and they are probably my favorite pair.
As of now, there are six styles: high-waisted, sport, hiphugger, boybrief, cheeky and thong. The hiphugger is their best-seller, according to their website. I bought the first three, which are aimed at heavier days: a hi-waist, a sport, and a hiphugger pair. There are other pairs that are aimed at lighter days, though I am not a fan of the fact that the pairs for the lighter days also have the least cloth as panties. (For example, the lightest day pairs come in cheeky and thong. If you like that kind of undergarment, that is totally okay. Personally, my big bum feels more comfortable completely encased in fabric.) The website takes a lot of space to ensure an interested user that washing the panties with your regular laundry will not wreck your clothing. Perhaps as someone who has spent more laundry days than I can count washing blood out of underwear, I did not even consider that as an issue. After I took a pair off at the end of the day, I spent several minutes rinsing them out with cold water in the sink, and then left them to dry before adding them to my laundry bag. I also already wash all of my clothes in cold water, which they suggest for the best maintenance of their period panties. Leave them to line dry or on a drying rack, and tada! Ready for your next cycle!
Real talk: Thinx are not cheap. I am not going to sugarcoat that. My cart of three pairs to try out was about ninety dollars. The expense was my main hesitation when I went to purchase. However, if you can spend that cash right now, it will go towards a product you can reuse for several years (as long as you take care of them properly). They also create less waste and thus are better for the environment. Over time, that money will be made up in the hundreds of dollars you won’t be spending on single use menstrual products, since you have reusable alternatives like the panties. It is not as cost-effective as a menstrual cup, but they are a high-standing alternative, in my opinion.
Overall, I really, really like them. They are a really good alternative to disposable period products if you can afford them. Even just a pair or two could save a good amount of money in the long run. I don’t believe they are as sustainable or easy to use as a menstrual cup, since you have to remove the pair once they have been used, so you need more of them at a time. However, if you are not comfortable with a menstrual cup or simply prefer pads, these are a good step to becoming more environmentally friendly with your choice period products.
It is also true that period panties are not the only pad-like alternative to period products. As of now, I do not have enough pairs for my entire period. I do not know if it is more sustainable or affordable to purchase a full cycle’s set of panties or if it is better to also purchase washable pads or something similar. I do have disposable products to finish off still, but I hope to replace them with reusable/washable pads in the future. I have some further research to do on where to buy them and how to care for them before I make that step as well.
All in all, this is a step that I do not want to reverse. Period panties are incredible, comfortable, and eco-friendly, and they are here to stay for me.
Image Credit: Jenna Wendler, Thinx, Sanaa Rants, Menstrual Cup Reviews, Mic,