Most period underwear isn’t cheap, but you’ll save money in the long run by not having to stock up on tampons or pads. Start with a pair and see what styles you like; eventually, you’ll have enough energy to last a full cycle. Menstrual underwear is rated based on absorbency level. Some brands state these by teaspoons of liquid, or compare it to the number of tampons they replace; we noticed them here.
Our Favorite Couple
Of all the period underwear in my dresser drawer, I bought the Knix ($20-38) first. The nylon pair is super silky and cool, like you’re wearing a fancy skirt, and they don’t dig anywhere. If you prefer cotton, this brand has it too. Even the superabsorbent pairs don’t feel very thick – they don’t even feel like pads. I often sleep in Dream Shorts ($38), even when I’m not menstruating.
The brand has four levels of absorption: light (1 teaspoon), medium (3 teaspoons), high (4-6 teaspoons, depending on style) and super (8 teaspoons). There is also a postpartum series and a teenage kit.
best budget pair
All of Period Company’s standard underwear is just $12 ($22 for boxers and $24 for pajamas). At this price, you can get a whole week’s worth of gear without spending almost as much as some of the other brands on this list.
I tried the resorbable version that holds nine tampons, which is the thickest of any tampon I’ve tried. They don’t feel weird, especially if you’re used to pads, but if you wear them under tight clothing, it can be uncomfortable (seems a little funny). I love them sleeping on my heavy days. There is a Sporty line with the same absorbency, but made from a more stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric to keep sweat away. There’s also the Light version that’s made with one less layer of absorbency, so it’s thinner all around, and Juniors.
More of our favorite brands
I’ve tried a lot of underwear from different periods now and I’m sure everyone can find something that works for them.
- Modi Bodi ($19-45) Has the most style and absorption level of any brand I’ve tried. From extra light (half to full tampons), medium to heavy (2-3 tampons) to Maxi 24 hours (10 tampons), and everything in between, you can find exactly what Everything you need for every day of your period. It also has detachable, maternity, swimsuit and activity options.
- Lobby ($27-45) The underwear is made from three post-consumer recycled water bottles. It offers three levels of absorbency, Light (2 lightweight tampons), Regular (3 regular tampons) and High (4 regular tampons), in a lovely style with mesh and lace options.
- Bambodi ($11-40) There are only two levels of absorption—leakproof (for spot or ultralight days) and absorbent (2 tampons)—but it’s one of the more affordable options, like Period Company above.
- Proof ($25-43) There are more basic styles with four levels of water absorption: light (1 tampon), medium (3 tampons), heavy (4 tampons) and extra heavy (5 tampons).
- Pure Rose ($29-39) Only a few styles are available, but since my first try, the brand has expanded to four levels of absorbency (1 to 4 tampons). In partnership with the DARE Women’s Foundation, the company provides underwear to young girls in Tanzania and provides food and water to communities in need.
- Cora ($30-38) only one style Underwear ($30) (3 regular tampons) and one Lack of sleep ($38) (6 regular tampons) so far. But the company also has cups and discs, so I expect it will continue to expand. If you are shopping for the warm period balms mentioned below and want to try some underwear, they are good.
- Adidas period proof Shorts ($45) and Bodysuit ($65) Expensive, but they are made with built-in period underwear. The brand recommends wearing these in addition to tampons, pads, or cups for added protection, especially if you’re going to be in the gym or practicing for a while, but I found it soaked up enough and nothing else.
Tampons and pads need to be changed frequently and are not good for the environment – they are thrown away after a few hours. However, menstrual cups are reusable, durable silicone cups that hold blood and prevent leakage. Buy it once and it should last a few years. There’s a learning curve, so try it on your days home, you may have to try a few times to find the perfect one.
To use a menstrual cup, you need to fold it (there are many different ways) and insert it into your vagina. Touch to make sure it’s fully unfolded and a seal is formed. When ready to take out, gently squeeze the bottom of the cup to open the seal – it’s a weird feeling, but don’t worry, it shouldn’t feel like it’s been torn off. Depending on your flow, most menstrual cups can stay on for 12 hours, so you can work all day without emptying them in a public bathroom. Put in a mug is a great resource to help you decide which mug might be the best. YouTuber RawBeautyKristi also offers some great advice on her experience with menstrual cups.
Our Favorite Mugs
I appreciate and see the pros in all the mugs I’ve tried for this guide, but I always prefer other options. They don’t hurt, but like I know very well I’m using the opposite of a tampon. That is, until I tried the Lily Cup. As soon as you walk in, you forget it’s there. I even slept comfortably.
The secret lies in its shape and size. It’s angled, thinner and softer than most standard cups, so it folds smaller and feels more natural. If you’ve never used a mug, or, like me, haven’t found a mug you like, try this. Like most cups available, there is one for those who have not had a vaginal birth and those who have already given birth.
If the Lily Cup doesn’t appeal to you or you need more options, MeLuna is popular in this category. Available in a variety of sizes, firmness levels, and stem types, the company offers helpful tips to find the right fit.
There are also kits available, including one with a steamer for sterilizing the cups ($56). Most people just boil them to sanitize them, but if you live in a dorm or something and don’t want to cook menstrual cups in a communal kitchen, that’s a good idea.
Menstrual discs we love
I think most people will love Lily, but there is no one-size-fits-all product when it comes to periods. There are more options that we also like, and most are cheaper.