If you’ve been curious about using period underwear but you need to know the full experience first, here is a TMI-filled account on how they changed Emma Clifton’s life.
Capsule x Confitex
You know, the word ‘life-changing’ gets bandied around a lot and, most times, it’s an exaggeration. But when I *metaphorically* take your face in my hands and tell you that six months of using period underwear has changed my life, I am not exaggerating. This is a hill I am prepared to die on and it is the sentence I am most likely to tell anyone in my vicinity who might be menstruating.
The Before Times
(sorry in advance for the TMI here)
My period would arrive, without warning, like a series of violent kicks to the uterus and with a flow that I can only describe as ‘biblical.’ Back when I was commuting, I would find it hard to do the 20-minute walk required from the bus stop to my work and then, once at work, I would stagger around with a wheat bag shoved down my outfit (a thrill to work with only women, I’ll tell you).
I was on pills from the doctor to lighten my flow, herbs from my nutritionist, Nuromol every six hours and a fistful of Super tampons by my side at all times. After I started working from home full-time – and watched as the tampons disappeared from the supermarket every lockdown – I decided it was best to get into moon cups. And they were good, on lighter days, but weren’t always big enough on heavy days.
Six Months Later
I initially tried heavy flow underwear to wear with my moon cups because I didn’t trust the idea of period underwear (“No garment can contain me!” My period yelled). But within maybe two cycles, I was aware that my cramps were less horrendous. Within four cycles, I had given up on the moon cups and added some lighter flow period underwear for days 3 & 4.
Six months later, my period lasts for four days – not seven. I take painkillers for day one, maybe day two. I’ve switched to lighter flow underwear for 90% of the period and I can now go for runs from day two onwards, as opposed to being huddled in a heaving mass for the better part of four days. My menstruation is no longer a black-out period (lol) on my calendar for one week of every month, for the first time in 27 years.
I am but one uterus, but those are the reasons why I consider period underwear to be life-changing.
Period Underwear FAQs
Can you wear period underwear all day?
Yes – you just need to make sure you’re matching your underwear with your flow. Many brands can handle back-up or light flow, but if you have a moderate to heavier flow it’s important to check that the brand can handle it. I used Kiwi brand Just’nCase by Confitex, which incorporate patented textile technology that delivers superior absorbency with a thinner gusset – so they can handle heavy periods.
For example, if you’ve got a heavy flow, a pair of Just’nCase briefs with Extra absorbency can hold more than 10 tampons worth of blood. If you’ve got a lighter flow, their Everyday absorbency holds more than five tampons without leaking. This also means that you really only have to think about period admin twice a day, as opposed to worrying about when you’ll next get to change your tampon. The brain space?? Invaluable.
What do you do once they’re ‘full’?
Rinse them into the water runs clear – I like to fill my bathroom basin and leave them to soak while I shower, then squeeze them out so I’m not wasting too much water. Different brands give different washing instructions, but with the Confitex ones you can just throw them in the washing machine with the rest of your laundry.
One thing to note is that, because period underwear are designed to be absorbent, they take longer to dry than normal underwear. That’s another reason I rate Just’nCase period pants. Most brands have to be dried on the washing line because they contain a layer of plastic that shrinks and distorts in the dryer, leading to leaks. But Just’nCase absorbent undies use Confitex’s unique patented waterproof textile technology, it can be dried in a tumble dryer or on a heated towel rail without affecting their leakproof performance.
(Another bonus of using this waterproof textile– apart from the obvious environmental benefits of reducing plastic waste – is that the seams of the underwear can be stitched and heat sealed, which means Just’nCase period pants are less likely to leak in the first place).
Do they feel like a nappy?
Less so than you’d think – even the 10 tampons’ worth ones feel way less bulky than you’d imagine, once they’re on the job. If you’ve still got flashbacks to wearing a heavy pad and feeling like you’ve got damp brick between your legs, this is a much more streamlined experience. However, this is why it’s important to buy a good quality pair, because you want them to stay as dry-feeling as possible. This is particularly important if you’ve got sensitive skin that gets irritated easily!
Do they feel weird on?
The biggest difference – in my opinion, after two decades of tampon use, is feeling yourself bleed again. It’s very disconcerting when you first switch and spend the first few days making your friends and loved ones check your butt every time you feel your period (sorry to all my loved ones). But once you’ve gone through a cycle or two, you know you’re in good hands and you don’t have to panic check anymore.
Can you sleep in them?
Holy smokes, can you what. This – along with the pain/flow reduction – is the biggest ***Hallelujah*** moment for me – no longer having to panic check the bed/get up in the middle of the night to change your tampon. Putting on a pair of underwear that can absorb 10+ tampons worth of blood before you go to sleep? Honestly, just TRY me, Period.
Can period underwear also be used for pee?
Period-proof and pee-proof underwear share similar fabric construction, but because urine is less viscous than blood and tends to come out differently (e.g. spurts rather than a flow) only the best period underwear also work well for bladder leaks. Because Confitex started out as an early innovator in incontinence underwear before moving into period pants, all their briefs are multi-tasking and able to handle both.
Do they smell?
Again, this is where you want to go for quality over a more basic brand. The good ones don’t smell, the cheaper ones can.
Can you see them under your clothing?
There are pairs deliberately designed for this – like the Full Briefs Lace Everyday that have a lace back panel so that they a) look quite sexy? (see above) and b) don’t show under your clothes. Some brands can feel like they are squeezing you in, so pick your styles carefully!
Being close to your lady parts, are period pants safe to wear?
Again, this is why you want to pick your brands carefully! We gotta protect these parts! Look for brands with consumer protection marks, such as Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, which show the textiles have been independently tested and found to be free of harmful substances. Period underwear featuring Confitex technology are also the only period pants to have been verified free of PFOA and PFOS chemicals by independent standards laboratory UL, so you can feel (bloody) sure they’re safe!
The Bottom Line
With good quality period underwear like Confitex starting at a price point of around $30 per pair, period underwear is an investment, no doubt. But tampons and pads are also pretty damn pricey once you start looking at what that monthly purchase costs you each year. Six months in, I have a selection of different period underwear depending on my flow, mood or outfit and I haven’t had to buy any period products since.
Plus, I know I’m not contributing to a monthly waste pile-up with all the tampons et al I was previously having to use. These really have been a life-changing product for me and if you think period underwear could make a different to your monthly flow, I couldn’t recommend them more strongly as a lifestyle switch.