Everything You Need To Know About Period Pants (But Were Afraid To Ask)

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Intrigued by the idea of period pants but just don’t know if they are for you? I’ve got you covered with this guide on everything you need to know about period pants, including the questions you were just too afraid to ask, and the best period pants available in the UK right now.

Period waste is on the rise. An estimated 200,000 tonnes of sanitary products are estimated to end up in landfill in the UK each year. And, even more depressingly, sanitary products are the fifth most common item found on Europe’s beaches. This makes sanitary product beach waste more widespread than single-use coffee cups, cutlery, or straws.

With each pack of disposable sanitary towels containing as much plastic as the equivalent of 5 plastic carrier bags, it certainly makes environmental sense to ditch the disposables and try reusables where possible.

However, eco-friendly period products aren’t always the most accessible in terms of usage. Menstrual cups, for example, certainly don’t work for everyone, or suit everyone. Period pants are easier to use. However, with a pair of period pants costing upward of £12, these kinds of pants can be a pricey investment, and you’ll want to do your research before taking the plunge.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Period Pants

Four people wearing wuka period pants, with a blue text box that says everything you need to know about period pants but were afraid to ask.
Image used c/o Wuka

With that in mind here is almost everything you might want to know about period pants. I’ve been using mine for over four years now, so feel well-qualified to take on your concerns.

What Are Period Pants?

Firstly, just what are period pants exactly? Period pants are essentially absorbent pants that you wear when you have your period.

The specially constructed gusset wicks away the blood and locks it away in between the layers of absorbent and leakproof fabric. I guess the best way to describe them would be the eco-friendly love child of a really comfortable sanitary towel and a pair of regular pants!

How To Use Period Pants

Unlike menstrual cups where the learning curve can be steep, I was delighted to find there is absolutely no learning curve when it comes to using period pants. When you have your period, simply put on a pair of period pants in place of your normal underwear, and then wear your regular clothes on top. That’s all there is to it – you can then get on with your day.

Are They Comfortable To Wear?

I personally have found period pants to be the most comfortable reusable menstrual product that I’ve tried.

Unlike standard sanitary towels, period pants do not rub or rustle. Nor do they feel like you are wearing plastic anywhere near you. In fact, they feel a lot more breathable than standard sanitary towels. They don’t feel bulky either – I promise it does not feel like you are wearing a nappy.

In particular, I love wearing mine at night. They don’t move about or ride up, so there is much less chance of leakage. And unlike standard sanitary towels, there is no chance of getting your pubic hair caught on the plastic tabs.

As such, I find it so much more comfortable than other sanitary options that can rub, chaff, or move and cause leakage.

How Long Can You Wear Them For?

In terms of how long you can wear period pants, I’m afraid there’s no real exact science. It all depends on the pants you have, how heavy your periods are, and where you are in your menstrual flow cycle.

When you are wearing your pants, they should feel dry as the absorbent core works its magic. You’ll know when it is time to change your period pants if you notice a wet, heavy, or full feeling. I’d suggest wearing them for no more than 12 hours, for hygiene reasons.

Can Period Pants Last All Day Or All Night?

sleep and period pants

Like the last question, it does really depend on a few different factors. I personally can wear mine all night. And certainly, at the start and end of my period, I could wear a clean pair all day. In the middle of my cycle, I find it more comfortable to change my pants at least once a day. Within one or two cycles, you’ll work out what works best for you.

Can Period Pants Work For Very Heavy Periods?

If you have very heavy periods then I would recommend buying a pair of pants specifically designed for a very heavy flow. WUKA, for example, offers super heavy flow pants, that it says can hold 12 regular tampons worth of flow. I would then suggest trying your period pants for the first time when you know you are going to be at home, to see how they handle your flow.

The other option for very heavy periods is to consider supplementing your pants with a menstrual cup or a sanitary towel – depending on your preferences. It could offer you extra peace of mind, and allow you get to get on with your day without worrying about leakages.

Do They Ever Leak?

I have only ever experienced leaks from one specific brand of period pants. With other pants, I’ve not experienced leaks. 

The pants are pretty tight (but not uncomfortably so) so do prevent leaks and are really very absorbent. I would say that period pants are more absorbent than a standard sanitary towel, and as they don’t move about, are much less likely to leak. However, as with any period product, there is always the risk of leakage.

If you’re not sure about using a pair overnight, you could put a towel down on your bed during the heaviest days of your flow, to see how you get on.

Do They Feel Sticky or Wet When You Are Wearing Them?

My period pants never feel sticky or wet when I’m wearing them unless I’ve been wearing them too long and it’s time to change them. I swear it is some kind of magic. They seem to draw fluids away quickly and dry quickly.

Do The Pants Smell?

Because period pants lock the blood away in the core, there is no smell associated with them.

Do They Absorb Clots?

Wearing period pants is similar to wearing a sanitary towel in this respect. They don’t absorb clots – you see them on the crotch of your pants when you go to the bathroom. When that happens you can just wipe it off with toilet paper. It’s no big deal.

Would They Work After Having A Baby?

It’s been a little while since I had my last baby (7 years ago), and those early days are a bit of a sleep-deprived haze. From what I recall from the early days, you would probably want something specialist for at least the first week or two, before switching to period pants. I’m not too sure how it would work with caesarean sections.

I’ll update this section once I know more about both questions. If you used period pants post-birth, do feel free to let me know your experiences – either via email or in the comments below.

What About For Exercise?

Whilst you may not feel like doing any exercise during your period, which I think is totally valid, would you believe that some people do wish to exercise?

If you fall into the latter camp, then period pants are my favourite period product to exercise in. They don’t budge, so don’t rub or chaff, and are incredibly comfortable. They are also helpful if you have a little stress incontinence.

When it comes to cycling, I’ve found that the button on reusable sanitary towels can be a little uncomfortable when you are riding a bike. With period pants you don’t get that – it’s an infinitely better cycling experience.

Which Are The Best Period Pants?

period pants from wuka

One of the best period pant brands I’ve found in the UK is WUKA (pictured above). This inclusive brand offers pants catering for 4 different flow rates – from light to super heavy. What’s more, their period pants cater for UK sizes 4 through 28, in various styles to suit your needs best. Prices start from £12. Moral Fibres readers can also get 10% off all WUKA collections, excluding basics, by using the exclusive discount code MFIBRES10 at the checkout.

I’m also a massive fan of Modibodi. These period pants come in UK sizes 4 to 26, in many different styles, and with varying absorbencies, from around £18. I find them incredibly absorbent yet thin, and after washing these dry the quickest of all the pants I own.

Marks & Spencer also offers period pants, coming in UK sizes 6 to 28. These come in three different styles and different absorbencies and cost £12. The best part is that M&S often run promotions on their period pants. Right now you can buy 3 pairs of period pants and get the 4th free. I haven’t tried these pants, and haven’t heard much about them, so I’d recommend reading customer reviews before trying.

Do check out my full guide to the best period pants for full details and reviews of several different period pants brands.

How Many Pairs Do I Need?

I think it all depends on how you plan on using them. If you have heavy periods and plan on using period pants as a backup in case of leakages of your menstrual cup, tampon, or sanitary towel, then you’ll probably only need one or two pairs.

If you plan on using period pants full-time during your period, then it depends on how heavy your flow is, how long your usual cycle is, and how often you do laundry. Around five pairs works for me, but in a four-family household, my washing machine is in use at least every other day.

In terms of buying them, I didn’t buy five pairs of pants in one go. I bought a pair at a time when it was affordable for me to do so, using other types of period products when my pants were in the wash.

How Do You Wash Them?

Washing period pants is really easy. Simply rinse them with cold water, then toss them right into the washing machine with a dark load. Alternatively, store them in a wet bag until it’s time to put the washing machine on. You can wash them on a normal wash cycle, and then dry them on your washing line or by hanging them to dry indoors.

There are only a couple of no-nos when it comes to washing them. Don’t use conventional fabric conditioners, as this can affect their absorbency. And never tumble dry them, as heat doesn’t agree with them.

If you don’t run your washing machine as often as I need to, then you can hand wash them. Just add some warm water to your sink and wash them with a little bit of laundry detergent or soap, before rinsing, wringing, and hanging them up to dry.

What Do You Do At Work Or When You Are Out?

This is the area where I feel that period pants do lose their shine a little. Depending on what you are wearing, it’s not a quick and easy job to change your pants.

You need to carry a clean pair of pants in your bag, inside a wet bag. Then you remove whatever you are wearing on your bottom half, before changing your pants, and getting dressed again. It can be tricky doing that in a public toilet cubicle!

If you are wondering what to do with the used pair of pants, don’t worry. You can pop the used pair inside a wet bag, and then wash it when you get home.

If you are new to wet bags, these are waterproof and washable bags that are designed to carry used reusable sanitary protection or reusable nappies. Wet bags do come in many discreet designs, so the good news is that they don’t scream that you are about to go and change your pants.

Any Other Questions?

Got any other questions? Leave a comment below or drop me an email and I’ll be sure to add them to this post.

And period pants not for you? Check out my guide to eco-friendly period products for other suggestions which might suit you better.

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