Even if you diligently track your flow with a tracker app, periods can still be unpredictable. Not only that, but they can be messy, too. From staining your sheets to your pants, there’s arguably nothing worse than being unprepared for a surprise period situation. Luckily, gone are the days where gingerly asking a friend or coworker for a tampon was the only solution. Investing in a few pairs of the best period underwear could change how you deal with your monthly menses for good.
These absorbent underwear designs are truly genius. Several brands make them in a variety of styles that are both functional and cute, and we love that they’re more eco-friendly than traditional period products. Depending on how heavy your flow is, some of these pairs can hold up to five tampons' worth of blood while still keeping you feeling fresh, dry, and, of course, leak-free. Considering women can spend up to $18,000 on traditional period products in their lifetime, they’re economical, too.
Impressed? So are we. To learn more about the best period underwear and how they work, we did some research and rounded up a few of the best options.
Period underwear is meant to look and feel just like your regular pair of undies, but they have an added absorbency component that’s designed to replace pads and tampons or be worn with a tampon or cup for extra protection. Most pairs also contain an antimicrobial moisture barrier to keep you comfortable, along with a layer designed to prevent any leaks or staining. Typically, these extra layers are only added to the crotch area, so the undies still end up feeling like a normal pair, aka not bulky. It may take some time to get used to free-bleeding without a pad or tampon, so many people test these out on a lighter day or at home first. But we can attest that the technology holds up.
According to the brand Thinx, reusable period underwear can usually be washed the same way you would wash your normal panties. You can choose to soak or rinse them first, but then they’re perfectly fine to throw in the washing machine—just use the cold cycle. One thing you can’t do with most reusable period underwear, however, is put them in a dryer, so keep these flat to dry or hang them. Do this to get the most mileage out of your period panties.
Thinx's best-selling hiphugger features a full-coverage fit and a comfy lace waistband that's great for everyday wear and light to regular menstrual flow. This pair absorbs up to three regular tampons' worth of blood. Every pair is made with a patented design and the brand's signature technology that absorbs your flow, wicks moisture, controls odor, and prevents leaks—leaving you feeling fresh and dry.
RubyLove’s leak-free technology features a built-in, absorbent, organic cotton liner that is perfectly angled to collect your period blood. All of its products can be worn with or without a tampon or menstrual cup, including this discreet, seamless pair of briefs. This pair will give you full coverage with a stitch-free design in soft, second-skin fabric and is thin enough to be worn with leggings without showing panty lines.
Think you can't wear a thong while you're on your period? Think again. Knix's super absorbent thong features an extended gusset for surprisingly good coverage; plus, it can hold up to six (yes, six!) tampons' worth of blood.
Period Aisle's panties include a bonus absorbency booster that can hold an extra two tampons' worth of blood and liquid, so if you choose to wear these while free-bleeding, they have you covered for up to four tampons' worth with the panty and booster combined. These briefs are cut in a retro style with a high waist and full bum coverage. We especially love that they're made up to a size 5X.
Great for keeping those crisp sheets clean on heavier days when you need overnight protection, these full-coverage, high-waisted briefs are soft, breathable, and able to absorb up to four tampons' worth of blood, liquid, or discharge. They're meant to fit like a second skin—so you can feel comfortable and confident going to bed, knowing you'll wake up stain- and leak-free.
If you're looking for a little more coverage than an average bikini brief, try these cool and comfy boyshorts from Evawear. Meant for lighter days, they’re made from a breathable blend of fabrics that absorb up to two full tampons' worth of fluid while wicking away moisture to keep you feeling clean and dry. Plus, the fabric is hypoallergenic, so it won’t be itchy on your skin.
Bambody’s period undies are made from bamboo fabric, which is silky soft and intensely moisture-wicking, so you’ll feel dry all day. Not only do we love that they look exactly like a regular pair of cute underwear, but at less than $15 a pair, they’re a total steal.
TomboyX is an underwear and apparel company that champions diversity inclusion in a clothing sector that is typically very binary, so we love that they created these leakproof boxer trunks that are suitable for anybody—no matter your gender identity. Each pair features a floating gusset that can fit a pad with wings for some extra coverage when you need it and holds up to four tampons' worth of fluid. Plus, they’re antibacterial and odor-repellent, and they look and feel just like a comfy pair of boxers.
Okay, so you might not be totally sold on the concept of reusable period underwear, but you can easily try a pack of disposable ones to start. They contain a built-in pad for all-in-one protection and offer up to 12 hours of leak-free comfort. And while they're not as eco-friendly as a reusable pair, this brand does use biodegradable fabric.