Thursday, April 14, 2016

Period Panties FTW

Period panties are the best thing since sliced bread.

Which is definitely not a statement I thought I'd ever make.  In fact, when I first heard of period panties, my very first thought was "ew gross, not for me."

Then came the reports about how tampons and pads are completely unregulated and how companies don't tell us what's being used to make them and I realized that that's even worse.  So when a review for Thinx period panties popped up on my Facebook newsfeed last month, I read it.  And, in the middle of one of the worst and heaviest periods I've ever had, while my mind was hazy with pain and my labia was sore from rubbing against my giant, diaper-like pads, I bought some.

Now, as the Thinx website reminds us, each woman's period is very individual - as could be seen by the comments that came connected to the review on Facebook (once woman scoffed at the idea of period panties because she has to change her tampon every hour, so there's no way period panties would work for her - EVERY HOUR.  The mind boggles.  That poor woman).  My period is pretty individual every month.

Thinx gives a pretty clear cut idea of what to expect for each version of panties that it has.  I ordered the sport (1 1/2 tampons worth of protection) and two hip huggers (2 tampons worth of protection) because those were the heaviest that they had.  They recommend using the period panties as back up to a tampon or diva cup, although they also say that each woman knows her flow best and some do use just the panties with nothing else.

Well, I know my period pretty well and I know that after a bad one (like last month's) I will have a very light period the next month.  In fact, after a bad one, I've occasionally had periods so light that I took a pregnancy test because there was so little period.  I figured that after last month, I'd have one of the lightest I've ever had, which made it a good time to try out the period panties with very little risk.  It turns out I was wrong, it's not the lightest period I've ever had, in fact it's been heavier than I would have predicted (although, still light), so it was a better test than anticipated.

So - my usual period protection are the long maxi-pads with wings.  I find tampons to be incredibly uncomfortable and occasionally painful so I only wear them to swim.  Regular pads without wings always fold up in the middle, causing spillover onto my panties and pants, and I need the extra length because otherwise I end up spilling over the front or back of the pad and it gets onto my pants.   So my normal period experience is using something that, while fairly thin, still feels like a diaper, occasionally sounds like a diaper, and by day 3 is irritating to my labia, making them kind of sore and swollen feeling.  Basically - it always sucks, even the light ones.

The biggest thing I had to get around was my mental block.   got over the whole "period panties, ew gross" thing (because for some reason washing them is grosser than just throwing out a pad in my head) pretty quickly.  Mostly because they were pretty comfy when I first put them on.  There's a little bit of extra material in the crotch, but it definitely doesn't feel like a diaper.  It's much more comfortable than a pad and after about 10 minutes, they felt like just a regular pair of panties.

Which is when the next mental block came in.  It's REALLY hard to get away from the feeling that you're bleeding into your panties.  That was definitely the hardest thing to get my head around - that even though I didn't feel like my pants were protected, they really were.  I went to the bathroom like five times in the morning just to check.  Each time - yup, totally protected, and I fell in love a little bit more.

The panties really do "wick away" the moisture.  It's not always immediate.  If you're familiar with wearing pads you're used to the occasional 'damp' feeling when you pull your underwear back up after going to the bathroom.  It's the same with the period panties, but it's just a damp feeling that last for under a minute and then it's gone and you're back to being comfortable - and it doesn't happen every time.

I expected them to feel heavier as the day went on, but they didn't.  They didn't get less comfortable.  They didn't smell.  And they provided complete protection.  I'd never felt so free.

My second day was heavier than anticipated, but the period panties still held up.  I would call this day a light-medium flow day for me.  I was a little bit more worried about the period panties, but they had no issues.

Since I'd known ahead of time that it was going to be a light period, I'd figured I could get through the whole thing with panty-liners and panty periods.  When my period turned out to be heavier than expected and I had to wash the panties midway through, and return my regular pad with wings, I wanted to cry.  Because I didn't want to put on the pad.  I wanted my comfy period panties.

Now, because I only wore the pad for one night it's not like it was all that uncomfortable in the end, but I was smiling when I got to put my period panties back on the next morning.  It was such a relief.  I have no leaks on my pants, no soreness in my labia, and even though it still occasionally freaks me out mentally that I'm just wearing panties and nothing else, I already know I'm going to buy another three pack of panties so that I don't have to use a pad at all next period.

Washing them was the next thing I had to steel myself for.  The instructions said to rinse in cold water and then put through the wash.  Rinsing them... I mean, ok it's period blood.  It comes out reddish of course.  I don't know why my head told me it would be grosser than cleaning up barf (which I did numerous times during and after college) or other bodily fluids (which I'm going to have to look forward to when I have a baby, which is something that I do want out of life).  Heck, my cat sometimes makes messes that are more unpleasant to clean up, but for some reason my head said "eeeeww period blood, worse than ANYTHING!"

The truth is, it's not.  It's just a mental thing that I'm going to go ahead and blame on society for making us feel like it's this unclean, worse than anything else mess.  Rinsing was no bother, tossing them into the laundry was easy, and then sorting them out to hang dry instead of going in the dryer, no big deal.  I checked the crotches afterwards.  Clean and normal looking.  Second wear - just as comfortable and effective as the first time around, and I felt much more confident in them.  Washing them the second time - apparently my mental state had gotten over my weird idea that washing my period panties was going to somehow be gross on a gargantuan scale.  Without the mental issue, it was just a normal wash.

Periods are probably never going to be comfortable, but I don't have to be as UNcomfortable as I have been, and that's definitely something I feel like celebrating.

I would recommend period panties to anyone who has a light to medium flow, or just light to medium flow days and will alternate with pads for the heavy days (which is what I'll be doing when I have my heavier periods), or wants to use them for tampon / diva cup back up, or just wants a pair for when they think their period is coming but isn't there yet and they don't want to wear a panty liner for some reason (they ARE more comfortable than even panty liners).

In my opinion, they are AWESOME.

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