Shocked that the average user throws away an astonishing 125 to 150kg of tampons, pads and applicators in their lifetime, the team at SH:24 were determined to see what other options are out there. We reviewed reusable pads, period pants and menstrual cups as alternatives to disposable sanitary products and here’s what we found.
Rachel reviewed the EvaWear bikini in size small, while Anisha tried Thinx cotton briefs in size medium.
Anisha: “I have a fairly light flow with maybe one heavier day during my period but absolutely hate the feel of pads, which often cause me to break out or itch, especially at night. Period pants feel like the next best thing to free bleeding with a bit of added security.”
Rachel: “I used the pants as a back-up for a menstrual cup. As I have a copper IUD, I find my periods are heavier than normal and often need to double up on tampons and pads. In a bid to be more sustainable, I am combining a cup and period pants instead.”
Fit & comfort
Rachel: “Really comfortable, soft material and waistband. Feels only slightly thicker than normal underwear and much more comfortable than wearing a pad.” 5/5
Anisha: “I usually wear a UK size 10/12 and I got the Thinx pants in a medium. They’re not quite as high-waisted as I usually like my briefs to be, but they were nice and thick and supportive and the cotton-rich outer material was great as I find synthetic fabrics irritating on my genital area.” 4/5
Rachel: “I had a few small leaks with my menstrual cup as I'm still getting used to it and the pants were great at handling them. It did feel noticeably damp when I had a slightly bigger leak so I doubt that the pants would be effective for me to use without a cup or tampon.” 3/5
Anisha: “The pants work best at the beginning and end of my 4-day flow. Designed to hold around 20ml of blood, or 2 tampons worth, I find I can wear them all day on Day 1 and 4 of my period and not require any additional protection.
“On my heaviest day, usually day 2, I found they weren’t sufficient on their own, but worked well with a tampon. I previously would use a disposable thin or ultra pad but I absolutely hate the feeling of them so these pants are a much nicer alternative.” 4/5
Rachel: “As with pads it felt uncomfortable/unhygienic to wear the pants for a whole day if I had leaked. I would imagine that similarly to pads, the smell would be noticeable if not changed throughout the day, meaning I would always want to carry a backup pair. Also after washing they took a whole day to fully dry so I would need a few pairs on rotation to work during my period.” 2/5
Anisha: “The fact they’re not disposable I guess is both a disadvantage and a benefit in this respect. It’s a hassle (and expensive!) having to carry a spare pair or two of pants as a back-up compared to a tampon or pad, and the added difficulty of carrying around a wet/used pair before you can get it home to wash and dry is at times annoying.
“I usually prefer to hand-wash the pants in cold water first to remove blood, before adding to my usual dark washes in the machine. So far there has been no staining with this method, and the pants seem hold their shape and quality when put through my usual 30 degree wash. The elasticated waistband still feels snug and the colour does not seem to have faded either which can sometimes be a problem with black underwear.” 3/5
Period pants are a great sustainable option for people with heavy periods who usually use a pad/liner as a backup to a cup/tampon, or alternatively worn alone for those with lighter flows.
“If leaks are common or if used as some protection for light periods, a few pairs are needed as I wouldn't want to wear the same pair all day, so they’re expensive, but will last longer than having to buy pads and tampons every month.”