Cis women and trans men have been menstruating since the beginning of time, and yet even with modern medicine and technology, periods still suck. At the very least, they’re a monthly annoyance you put up with, but it’s more than likely you also have to deal with cramps, bloating, and an insatiable desire to just be lying down all the time. Then there are the occasional (and often unpredictable) leaks. Tampons and menstrual cups aren’t always accessible for everyone, so period underwear can be a great alternative solution. And when we say period underwear, we’re not referring to those old frumpy undergarments hidden in the back of your drawer that you pull out every month because you don’t want to ruin your good underwear.
Period underwear (or period panties—whatever you prefer) usually has extra layers built into to help absorb and wick away menstrual blood. Some pairs are designed to be worn without any other feminine products, while others can be used as an extra backup system to protect from unwanted leaks. And even though you may be picturing a bulky diaper-like garment in your head, there are lots of options that are actually cute enough to be in the front of your underwear drawer. They’re also environmentally friendly, as they’re reusable and often machine-washable.
Depending on your needs and style, here are eight period panties that will help you keep up with your flow.
Thinx has a variety of period underwear in different styles, absorbencies, and materials, including organic cotton and a lightweight micromesh. The Super Hiphugger is made with a nylon and elastane blend, and the polyester gusset is superabsorbent, holding about four tampons’ worth. It’s moisture-wicking, odor-controlling, leak-protecting, and machine-washable. And they’re stylish, because being on your period doesn’t mean you can’t wear cute underwear. Thinx also makes apparel if you’re looking for some additional coverage while you’re sleeping or working out, and has a line for tweens and teens called Thinx (BTWN). Each Thinx purchase supports various initiatives the company supports, including providing inclusive puberty education and helping make basic hygiene products more accessible to everyone.
One happy reviewer said, “I’ve used Thinx for 2 cycles now and I think the are the best thing ever for women who have a heavy flow like me. It’s so incredibly nice to not worry about leaking through. I’ve told all my friends about them! Love them!”
Modibodi was founded by a woman after she experienced “unmentionable” bladder leaks after having her second child. As a result, Modobodi’s product line includes underwear that can help withstand all kinds of body fluids, such as periods, bladder leaks, sweat, and breastmilk. The sensual hi-waist bikini has a slim (only 3mm) but absorbent lining that can hold up to 3-4 tampons’ worth, and can be used alone even on heavier days or overnight. The underwear has a high waist and lace trim, and comes in sizes ranging from XS-6XL and multiple colors.
One reviewer said, “I wish these period undies were around when I was 20! Too many years wasted with horrible products that are less healthy and ruin the environment. These are comfy and so liberating. This style with the lace is great for curvy girls, comfy. I went up a size to my usual dress size and that was just right.”
Knix’s leakproof boyshorts come in several different nude shades, as well as a few limited edition colors. They’re made with four-way stretch material to move with your body and are machine-washable. All Knix underwear uses triple-layer leakproof technology, which includes a moisture-wicking and anti-odor layer, an absorbent layer, and a leak-resistant layer. The boyshorts have medium absorbency, holding up to three teaspoons of liquid, great for light days or as backup protection for heavier ones. They also have seamless construction, so you can wear them under most outfits without worrying about underwear lines. If boyshorts aren’t your preferred style, there are also bikinis, thongs, and sleep shorts.
One reviewer said, “I was a little worried about the tightness at first, but they stretched nicely to my shape. They were perfect for the lighter period days, particularly as I was working out (when other solutions are often uncomfortable). They absorbed what I expected, plus sweat, and zapped odors nicely. Will definitely buy more.”
Ruby Love period underwear has multi-layer protection to help prevent leaks and odors, including a dri-tech mesh layer that can securely lock in a sanitary pad (either your own, or Ruby Love also has a reusable, cotton and cashmere wool double-sided pad) and help stop front, side, and back leaks. There’s a bikini, hipster, brief, and high-waist version, and they come in various colors and patterns and sizes that range from teen to plus-size. Each pair can hold up to to 2.5 tampons’ worth. In addition to underwear, Ruby Love also has sleepwear and activewear. For beach or pool days, there are period swim bottoms, one- and two-pieces, swim dresses, and skinsuits. And to make conversations with daughters or other teen/tween girls in your life, you can also get a First Period Kit, which includes a pair of underwear and goodies like a beauty mask, a warming gel pad, and hygiene essentials.
Aisle underwear includes a three-layer gusset to protect from leaks, which includes a wicking mesh layer, a proprietary absorbent layer, and a breathable organic cotton layer. The hipster pair is medium rise and provides full coverage, and there is also a bikini, brief, and boxer brief option. It comes in black or blue, as well as sizes that range from XS to 5X. By itself, the hipster can hold up to two tampons’ worth, but for heavier days, you can add the absorbency booster (similar to a reusable pad and included with the pair) to increase the underwear’s absorbency to up to four tampons’ worth. They can also be machine washed and dried with the rest of your laundry (though they need a cool rinse beforehand).
One reviewer said, “They’re comfortable (like way more comfortable than disposable products) and I found they wicked really well. I can use the booster till mid-afternoon, then just take it out and rely on the underwear itself till the evening. I’ll definitely be buying more!“
Bambody underwear is made with bamboo fabric, which is both soft and breathable, and has a sporty, hipster fit. Inside there’s a leak proof layer that extends the length of the underwear from front to back, and an absorbent layer that can hold up to two tampons’ worth. You can pick up a single pair or a pack of two or three, so you have some spare pairs on hand.
One reviewer said, “These are amazing. I am beyond glad that I purchased them and will recommend them to everyone. They are appropriately and accurately priced which is VERY important to me. Some companies are out there over charging for period underwear like crazy when women already have it hard enough dealing with a period- and have already had to spend a fortune in period products previously. I bought the heavy flow and have had no leaks! They are comfortable, they don’t look frumpy, they don’t make me sweaty. I love these and will be buying a few more pairs FOR SURE.”
Anigan’s underwear comes in a two-pack and you can choose between hipster, bikini, brief, or boyshort styles. It’s made from nylon, cotton, and spandex, and has an absorbency equal to up to two tampons. The multi-layer protection includes a moisture-wicking, absorbent, leak proof, and breathable layer, and extends from the front to back waistband. They’re also machine-washable.
One reviewer said, “All in all I give these 5 stars. They do what they are meant to do. I really like them and will be buying full set. I think they will take some of the annoyance and cost out of my monthly cycle. If you have a heavy cycle and are prone to overflow I totally recommend these as an additional level of protection. Yes you will still need to use your products but your clothes will stay stain free and you wont need to wear a pad and a tampon/cup which is awesome. If you are like me and have only a few days of heavy/med flow, you can ditch the products on most of your days and pretend like you’re like one of those ladies in the 1980s tampon adds, frolicking though a field of daisies in a white dress because that is obviously what women want to during that time of the month ;).”
The Hesta period underwear is made with lightweight organic cotton, so you can feel even better about what you’re putting on your body. It comes in nude and black, and in packs of two or three. There’s an absorbent layer built in that has an extended front area and full back protection to help keep leaks to a minimum. They’re designed to be worn with liners, pads, or tampons as an extra layer of security.
One reviewer said, “As far as leak protection, I have been wearing them without any other protection. On light/medium days this works just fine. On heavy days, have some other sort of protection or have a butt ton of these undies on hand. These work so well and I’m so happy with them. I almost get excited when I have my period because I know I have these now and no longer have to fear/dread ruining clothes, sheets, etc. I did say almost, right? Planning to get a variety and try all of the other types and styles out there but if these are the only period panties you ever buy, you won’t be disappointed.”
For more ways to help you feeling your healthiest self, check out our Wellness picks.