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Should you try period underwear?

Whether scrolling through Instagram or strolling the aisles at the grocery store, you’ve likely seen period underwear for sale. So, how do they work and are they effective? Tia Guster, M.D., a Piedmont gynecologist, shares what to expect.

What is period underwear?

Period underwear comes in a variety of styles and materials, from thongs to briefs to bikinis. They’re designed to look and feel like regular underwear and offer protection from leaks and odors.

“Period underwear is designed to be comfortable and supportive, but the middle and back section is absorbent and protective of odors,” says Dr. Guster.

The benefits of using period underwear

If you’re interested in trying period underwear, here are some potential benefits:

  • They’re comfortable. “They aren’t bulky under clothes and you won’t feel like you’re wearing a diaper,” says Dr. Guster. “You can wear them at the gym, while sleeping at night, or to work or school.”

  • There’s no risk of toxic shock syndrome. With period underwear, there’s no risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) like with tampons because you’re not inserting anything into your body.

  • They’re relatively low-maintenance. You only have to change them every 10 to 12 hours, much like a menstrual cup.

  • They’re suitable for all ages. “They’re good for everyone,” she says. “They’re particularly helpful if you’re active and don’t want to worry about changing a tampon, pad or cup.”

  • They’re better for the environment. Period underwear is also environmentally friendly because they cut down on waste from tampons, applicators and pads.

  • They can be wallet-friendly. “Depending on the frequency of your cycles, they’re likely to pay for themselves in a few months because you won’t have to repurchase pads and tampons,” says Dr. Guster.

Does period underwear replace pads, tampons and menstrual cups?

You may wonder if you should still wear a pad, tampon or menstrual cup while wearing period underwear. While you don’t need to wear a pad or panty liner with period underwear, you can still opt to wear a tampon or menstrual cup, depending on your flow.

“Period underwear can be worn as an alternative or enhancement to tampons or menstrual cups,” she says. “They can be more comfortable than traditional feminine hygiene products.”

If you’re new to period underwear, Dr. Guster recommends trying them at night first to see how they work for you.

How to wash period underwear

So, you bought your first pair of period underwear. Here are some tips for caring for them:

  • Once you take them off, rinse them with cold running water until the water is clear.

  • Wash them with a regular load of laundry. Use cold water and a delicate setting. Hot water can set stains in the fabric. For extra protection, consider washing the underwear in a laundry delicates bag.

  • Skip the dryer cycle and hang them to dry.

  • Once they’re dry, fold them and put them away.

If you have questions about whether period underwear is right for you, talk to your primary care provider or gynecologist.

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