Thinx Greener: What It’s Like to Trade Pads and Tampons for Period Panties
Real talk: this was the most confident I’d ever felt on my period
My period journey, since first surfing the crimson wave at 13, hasn’t been all smooth sailing. In large part, this has to do with having to manage crippling menstrual cramps. But it also points to the irritating inconvenience of dealing with a heavy flow each month. (My period can last up to six days, where the first two are typically heavy.)
It took a fair share of embarrassing moments to help me realize this about my cycle: that going through pads at a rapid pace would be way of life as I knew it. From blood-stained high school uniforms that I chalked up to naïve under-preparedness to one especially traumatizing incident in my early 20’s where my pad leaked through my trousers and onto a bright-colored couch at my ex’s parents’ house: you name the menstrual mishap, I’ve likely gone through it. Since then, it’s been a relentless search for whatever might make the time of the month less of a paranoia-filled potential period leak catastrophe. The more sustainable, the better, too.
Letting bloody bygones be bygones, pads still turned out to be my period product of choice with the exception of the occasional tampon for beach trips and certain outfits that would otherwise scream “puffy pad lines spotted!” It was never lost on me how wasteful and costly getting my period was. So when the menstrual cup caught on, I gave it some thought, but found that I wasn’t nearly invested enough in it to give it a go. (Since it’s a reusable hygiene product that requires insertion, I had my reservations.) Then, I found out about period panties on Facebook. “Leak-proof underwear,” the headline read. It was a post on Thinx, a pair of revolutionary period-absorbing panties that I would later on buy and try for myself. Seeing is believing, sure, but feeling––period gush, the slow drip and all––is just as defining an aspect in this case.
“For People with Periods”
For starters, Thinx impressively carries not just one innovative, patented design, but six classic silhouettes: from the boyshort down to the thong (yes, for real, a thong). Additionally, it offers a smaller collection of organic cotton alternatives and now, customizable “saver sets” and even activewear basics.
Periods, as far as Thinx is concerned, aren’t supposed to drastically disrupt the lives of women who have them. I myself still find it difficult to knock the association out of my head that getting my period means limited activity, a limited range of motion, a limited wardrobe and a heightened sense of paranoia. It’s refreshing to see a period-positive brand combat this mindset by adhering instead to what a regular day in the life of a woman might entail. If it’s a workout in the morning, there’s no reason you should have to miss out, worry about twisting a napkin out of shape or, again, dread protruding pad lines. If it’s a long day at work spent sitting behind a desk, there’s no need to squirm in your seat in discomfort or get up frequently to check for stains.
It’s all a little too good––and invincible––to be true. Then again at $38 or ₱2,065.24 for a single pair of the Hi-Waist underwear (not including shipping), there was no way, in my book, that failing was an option for Thinx. Anything short of what it says it does, and I’d attempt to get my money back, something the brand fortunately provides to dissatisfied buyers within a 60-day window. With the assured little to no room for error, off I went to “period better” with the Thinx period-proof panties. Here’s a quickie on how they work:
My Personal Period Journey Broken Down by Thinx
No two women, uteruses or cycles are ever the same. This is one of the main points Thinx gets out of the way in its preface to period panties. You need to understand how your cycle works because this is how you find out where and when Thinx fits into your period care routine. Should you need a little help in this department, there’s a “Know Your Flow” quiz you can take on the website. What this does is assess your current routine, compute the total number of disposable pads, liners or tampons you use each in each menstrual cycle and then recommend the best Thinx underwear styles for you based on your flow.
Giving the quiz a go, I found out that, on average, I use up to 20 disposable period products each cycle and that in just one year of using Thinx, I could virtually “reduce my plastic footprint by throwing out 240 fewer disposables.”
The results also showed that I would be better off using Think as a backup for my existing period products (rather a full-on replacement) on heavy days. Of course, I still wanted to know what living through day one of my period would be like with just panties on.
First Impressions: Cute, Not Ultra-Thin, but Thin Enough
Thinx recommends that first-timers start with the Hiphugger. I, however, gravitated instantly toward the high-waist version of the period-catching undergarment. (It had me at sheer side panels.)
Behind this purchasing decision was also the logic that of all underwear silhouettes, and with only an online size chart at my disposal as a first-time buyer, the classic high-waist would be the failsafe option. Compared to most others, bottoms in this style manage to flatter a wider variety of body shapes since its waistband sits right across the bellybutton. This means they work with and not against the natural curves of the body. Like the suggested starter period underwear that is the Hiphugger, the Hi-Waist holds up to two regular tampons’ worth (roughly 10 mL) of blood just as well.
On to the winning feature of all Thinx panties: the gusset (the strip down the middle where the napkin or liner goes) is wide enough to cover the areas it’s supposed to keep secure, a snug fit but not constricting. I wouldn’t call it ultra-thin as the Thinx ad says it is, but it’s certainly thinner than a regular pad and just a little thicker than the gusset on swimwear. Chic, I thought. And definitely could pass for stylish swim bottoms.
Day One with Thinx: Hello, Heavy Flow
I didn’t personally know anyone that could vouch for period panties, so I went with the website’s recommendation for first-time wearers: “Try Thinx at home first, where you’re most comfortable, to test how it works for your flow.” That I did––and it was a liberating experience like no other.
My period dripped and flowed and I felt every bit of it, half-cringing over the fact that a mere piece of fabric was all that separated my period blood a-gushing, the rest of my outfit and all else that my bum came in contact with. I was waiting for a leak, but it never came. I was waiting for a sign that I might need to change to a pad sooner than the Thinx label indicated, but this never came either. Stressing out over having nothing to stress out about, I could not believe I was sailing through the supposedly unpleasant time of the month.
If there was any real hurdle in this, it was that I psyched myself out over the thought of deliberately bleeding straight into my underwear. I was having trust issues with panties. Seeing how they held up, however, I’d say I was more than impressed. Thinx did have my back, my front and that “weird place on the side the pad always misses.” The bacteria-fighting, odor-eliminating layer? True to its promise. The gusset remained inodorous throughout day one of my period. The super-absorbent patented fabric? Absolute sorcery. It was like the disappearing milk trick featuring a newspaper cone––except instead of milk, it was blood (sorry for the imagery) and instead of a newspaper cone being used to catch the liquid, it was Thinx. The other thing that took a while to get used to was the moisture-wicking top layer, designed to keep the wearer dry and comfortable, which is crucial. It may not have felt “like sitting in a pool of blood,” as one ad said, comparing Thinx underwear to a regular pad, but it did feel a lot like sitting on a cold damp cloth in the time it took the absorbent layer to work its magic.
At the end of the day, what mattered was that Thinx pacified my inner skeptic. Even better, it made me rethink my entire period journey. I had the mental image of 240 disposable feminine products attributed to my personal waste in a single year. I did the math on the amount of money spent on napkins, tampons, laundry and ruined regular underwear; the paranoid trips to the bathroom, though, I couldn’t put a price on. There’s a lot that goes into helping move this natural, biological event along. Thinx simplifies all that.
The liberating first try led to a confident day two: this time, in the office. I suddenly found myself working with less yet also worrying much less…and actually not dreading my next period. Words I never thought I’d say. Ever.
Thinking of giving Thinx a go? Know more about these game-changing period panties here and take the “Know Your Flow” quiz here before doing any shopping. For purchases made in and shipped to the Philippines, head to the official Thinx website or online stockists Nourished Life and ASOS. Physical Thinx stores can only be found in the United States, Canada, the UK, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Iceland and Ireland, for now.
Art Alexandra Lara