My Exploration of Menstrual Products - Menstrual Underwear

My Exploration of Menstrual Products - Menstrual Underwear

Is this really all you need?

My Exploration of Menstrual Products - Menstrual Underwear

Now on Another Planet Every person’s fate is like the history of a planet. No two planets are alike and each is distinct. Here we will introduce the planets of others to feed your curiosity. Find wisdom in real stories based on real peoples experiences, thoughts, and lives. Myoungwon Na tells you an interesting story...
To be continued In this series, we review various menstrual products one by one. Available when you need it — Menstrual info kit

Would it be possible to handle your period with just your underwear instead of needing a separate menstrual product to be attached, secured, or inserted? This would be menstrual underwear. Let’s learn about menstrual underwear which is great for single use or as a supplementary product, but their prices are not so great.

Thinx panties? Menstrual underwear is also known as “Thinx panties.” “Thinx” is the name of a well-known menstrual underwear brand. This is similar to referring to a medical bandage as a “band-aid,” clear tape as “scotch tape,” or sticky notes as “post-it notes.”

Characteristics : I thought I’d never use these....(meaning I have used them)

When I was thinking about trying the menstrual cup, someone I met at a book club recommended menstrual underwear. She told me that it looks exactly the same as your normal underwear and conveniently absorbs all the blood. Also, it’s comfortable to wear and easier to wash than cloth menstrual pads. But she had a very light menstrual flow. I get a heavy menstrual flow in the first two days of my period, and I already experienced the bitterness of cloth menstrual pads with reduced capacity due to incorrectly washing them. Menstrual underwear really seemed like a great idea but I thought it wasn’t something I’d try.

But I ordered menstrual underwear a few days after using a menstrual cup. Because on heavier days, the menstrual cup couldn't handle the 8 hours of sleep. I've tried disposable menstrual pads and cloth menstrual pads at night, but it was very uncomfortable and troublesome. It seemed inconvenient to have several pads or cloth menstrual pads to use for two days with the heavy menstrual flow in a month.

I went to a website of a famous menstrual underwear brand, and they had a simple test. The test was a way to let you know which product to wear and how to wear them depending on your menstrual cycle, usual menstrual products, and menstrual flow. The test, as expected, told me to not just use only menstrual underwear on days with heavy menstrual flow and to use it along with my usual menstrual product.

(Based on this brand) I bought three pairs of underwear for less than KRW 150,000 and they were satisfying. I was already using a menstrual cup and the addition of wearing the underwear was excellent. It was comfortable to wear, and I didn’t have to worry about leaking when the cup gets full. The capacity or washing didn't feel like an issue since I wore it only as supplementary to the cup.

Convenience : Just like your underwear

The pros of menstrual underwear in summary are that they are “easy and convenient.” (If your menstrual flow is not heavy) There is no need to stick, wear, or insert additional products since wearing the underwear solves everything.

❤️ Easy to use

You can wear it like underwear and there is no need to learn how to use it. You can simply put on a clean pair when replacing it.

❤️ Comfortable wear

The fit is similar to sports underwear with great elasticity. The crotch area of the underwear that absorbs menstrual blood is slightly thick but is not uncomfortable since the underwear is thin overall.

❤️ Free to be active

The underwear overall immediately absorbs the blood, and you can freely move around without worrying about leaking. But you cannot go in a pool when wearing general menstrual underwear. Just like pads and cloth menstrual pads, it also absorbs water. Using insertable products such as tampons and menstrual cups are the safest when going in the water. Some overseas brands also sell menstrual underwear for swimming known as “period swimwear.”

Discomfort : The key is your menstrual flow!

Even the easy and convenient menstrual underwear has cons. It’s easier to notice the cons when you have a higher menstrual flow. I used the underwear in addition to the menstrual cup and didn't feel much discomfort but using just the menstrual underwear without any other menstrual product when having a heavy menstrual flow will cause some issues.

💔 Dampness

The menstrual underwear absorbs quickly and tends to stay soft, but you will feel dampness once it has absorbed a certain amount. It does not leak immediately once it absorbed its maximum capacity but the area that has become damp stains the skin with blood. The capacity of menstrual underwear indicated by brands is about 3 to 5 tampons and 0.9 to 1.5 menstrual cups, but this capacity is based on when the entire area of the underwear is full, and they should be replaced after absorbing less than the indicated capacity. The absorbency capacity gradually decreases depending on the period of use and how you take care of it.

💔 Inconvenient to wash and dry

The recommended washing method significantly differs by manufacturer. Company T, for example, recommend not to use bleach and fabric softeners when washing in the washing machine. Other menstrual underwear manufacturers in Korea and overseas advise rinsing off the blood with cold water first to wash them. The Korean company H instructs to lather underwear with soap and soak in water before washing them. If you can just put it in the washing machine it would be simple to wash but it would be no different from cloth menstrual pads if pre-washing or soaking is needed. Company T’s product also has to be rinsed in water before putting it in the washing machine to wash them thoroughly and use them for a long time. Of course, I just put them in the washing machine.

But there’s still an unavoidable inconvenience even with washing them using the washing machine. Menstrual underwear does not dry quickly. Menstrual underwear needs to be air-dried since using the drier can damage the fabric but it takes half a day for them to completely dry. It’s best to have several pairs of underwear since washing it in the morning means you may not be able to wear it again in the evening.

💔 Brutal prices

A pair of menstrual underwear costs about ₩40,000-50,000 (KRW) or $35-45 (USD). Obviously, you can’t go through your period with just one pair of menstrual underwear. You need to buy at least three pairs of underwear regardless of whether you use other menstrual products with them, or just the underwear alone, since you need to wash them. You’ll need even more pairs if you have moderate to heavy menstrual flow or need to change them several times a day.

You also need to regularly purchase them since their functions deteriorate over time. The expense is higher if you only use menstrual underwear as your menstrual product since the function of the underwear will decline as it absorbs a lot of menstrual blood and is washed frequently.

Controversy about PFAs

Let’s go over this controversy. There was a report in 2020 that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), a class of toxic chemicals, were detected in a well-known brand’s menstrual underwear. PFAs are chemicals used to coat paper cups, water-resistant fabric, and frying pans but they can be harmful when accumulated in the body and they are unlikely to be removed by washing as they are difficult to decompose. This brand, as well as other brands, claimed their products have passed the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 which certifies clothes safe from hazardous substances, but this was refuted as this certification does not test the thousands of PFAs. This controversy recently escalated to legal battles.

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