Body

"I tried period undies so you don't have to": A guide to making the sustainable switch from pads and tampons

All your burning questions have been answered.

By Maddison Leach
Period undies – what are they? How do they work? Are they sanitary? What does it actually feel like to wear them?
Those are the questions that run through most people's minds when they spot a box of period undies at the supermarket or in their local Bonds store.
Designed to look like regular knickers but with added layers that catch and absorb menstrual blood, these clever little undergarments are a reusable alternative to pads and tampons.
More sustainable than disposable sanitary products, they're great for anyone who prefers to use pads during their period but wants to cut down on waste.
But how effective are period undies and what does it actually feel like to wear them? I road tested two pairs to find out!

How do period undies work?

Modibodi shared this photo showing off their colourful period undies. (Modibodi/Instagram)
There are usually multiple layers in the gusset or crotch area of period undies – one that wicks moisture away from your skin, one in the middle that absorbs blood and one that stops fluid from leaking out.
Made from cotton and other breathable fabrics, these layers are designed to keep you feeling dry and comfortable while also absorbing everything your period dishes out.
Even people with heavier flows can use period undies, as even on our heaviest days most people only actually lose a few teaspoons of blood.
Of course, the absorbency of any given period undies depend on the cut, style and construction – most brands offer lower and higher absorbency options.
After wearing them, you simply give your period undies a good rinse then chuck them in the wash, hang them out to dry and they're good to go again.

What does it feel like to wear period undies?

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I tried two pairs of Bonds period undies that I picked up on sale at my local Coles; the Bloody Comfy Bikini for moderate flow days, and the Bloody Comfy Full Brief for heavy flow days.
They're definitely noticeably thicker than regular undies or a pad, and it did feel a tiny bit like wearing a nappy at first but you get used to the feeling quickly.
I found the full brief amazing for overnight wear, as I wasn't worried about anything leaking out onto my crisp white sheets and staining them.
As someone who usually grudgingly wears pads at night, period undies felt way more breathable, comfortable and I wasn't constantly stressing that my pad would shift around in the night and spring a leak.
I probably wouldn't opt for the heavy flow styles to wear during the day though, as the extra layers in the crotch make them a little thick and they may show through certain clothes.
The moderate flow bikini style was perfect for that though, offering plenty of absorbency and security while looking almost identical to my usual Bonds undies.
Sure, they're still a little thicker than regular knickers, but they're much comfier than wearing a pad all day and you don't have to stress about changing a tampon every few hours.

Do period undies smell?

Bonds period undies are popular among Aussies. (Bonds/Instagram)
Nope! At least, not in my experience. I've gone through three menstrual cycles with these bad boys now and never once noticed any smells.
Most period undies are coated with an antimicrobial agent that helps eliminate any unwanted odours, so it's not really something you'd have to worry about any more than if you were using a pad.
You can wear them for up to 24 hours, and while I never went that long in a single pair, I did wear mine for 12-18 hours and never noticed any funky smells.

Are period undies sustainable?

Yep! Because they're reusable and designed to last a long time, period undies are far more environmentally friendly than disposable pads or tampons.
While menstrual cups have been considered slightly more sustainable than period undies, they're definitely a great option if you're trying to be more eco-conscious at your time of the month.

What are the best brands of period undies?

I tried the Bonds Bloody Comfy Undies range and really loved them, but I definitely want to try more brands that offer different styles and features.
Some of the most popular period brands in Australia include Modibodi and Thinx, but retailers like Cotton On and The Iconic also carry some options.
Check out our favourite period undies below!
Sensual French Cut moderate-heavy absorbency undies, $33.50, from Modibodi. (Modibodi)
Bendon Flo Heavy Midi Briefs, $44.95, from The Iconic. (The Iconic)
Blood Comfy Period Bikini Moderate absorbency, $24.99, from Bonds. (Bonds)
Hiphugger moderate absorbency, $50.59, from Thinx. (Thinx)
Scarlet Period Proof G-String, $32, from The Iconic. (The Iconic)
Tom Organic X Body Shorty Period Undies Light Flow, $24.99, from Cotton On. (Cotton On)
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  • undefined: Maddison Leach