One afternoon when I was in fourth grade, girls were sent away to watch videos of menstruation, pads, and tampons. That’s where my public education about menstruation began and ended — a secret discussion that boys can’t hide. From that point on, we were ingrained that the feeling of menstruating was embarrassing.
Of course, it’s not, and some of us at WIRED rave about our menstrual cycles and habits. Long before pads and tampons were available, people simply soaked their clothes or used homemade flannel if the flow is particularly heavy. Women often stuffed rags that were then washed and reused later (hence the phrase “be on the rags”).
Now there’s routine underwear, menstrual cups, reusable pads, drug-free tampons for less waste, and even a subscription service to get products delivered to your door Monthly. We tested a wide range of new products to find the best budget and eco-friendly alternatives, and methods that just make that time of the month more comfortable. These are our favorites.
Update January 2022: We’ve added more menstrual cups and menstrual cups that we like. We’ve also added updated information and pricing throughout.
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Senior editorial contributor Adrienne So and reviewer Louryn Strampe also tested and contributed to this guide.
Table of contents
Period Underwear (and Workout Underwear)
It can be intimidating to ditch the menstrual products you’re used to, but menstrual underwear is a great place to start if you want to change your habits—I gave up tampons completely and does not leak. It absorbs blood without feeling wet and it won’t transfer it to your clothes if you’re wearing the right level of absorption. You can also wear them for urinary incontinence, frequent discharge, postpartum bleeding or to absorb sweat. There are even leak-proof sandals and cute lace options.
Most lingerie doesn’t come cheap, but you can save money in the long run by not having to stock up on tampons or pads. Start with a pair to see which style you prefer; In the end, you may have enough to last your entire cycle. Period underwear is evaluated for absorbency. Some brands claim these in liquid teaspoons or compare them to the number of tampons they replace; We have recorded them here.
Our favorite pair
Out of all the period lingerie in my closet drawer, I have Knix ($23-$38) Firstly. The nylon briefcases are so soft and cool, it’s like you’re wearing chic heels and they don’t go anywhere. If you prefer cotton, the brand has those too. Even the super absorbent ones don’t feel thick – they don’t even feel like a cushion. I wear Dream Shorts ($38) go to bed regularly, even if I don’t get my period.
The brand has four levels of absorbency: Light (1 teaspoon), Medium (3 teaspoons), High (4-6 teaspoons depending on style) and Super (8 teaspoons). There is also a postpartum collection and teenage kits.
The best budget pairs
All Period Company’s standard underwear is only $12 ( boxer is $22 and Sleep shorts are $24). For that price, you can bargain all week without spending as much as some of the other brands on this list.
I’ve tried heavy absorbent versions containing nine liquid tampons, which are the thickest of the pairs I’ve tried. They don’t feel weird, but if you wear them under tight clothing it can be uncomfortable (and look a bit funny). I love them for sleeping in my heavy days. Only one Sports line has the same absorbency but is made of stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric to prevent perspiration. There are also Light version is made of a layer that is less absorbent, and therefore thinner around, and Juniors.
Other Brands We Like
I have now tried a lot of different period lingerie and am confident that there is something for everyone.
- Modibodi ($19-$45) has the most style and absorbency of any brand I’ve tried. From Ultra-Light (half to a full tampon), Moderate-Heavy (2-3 tampons), to 24-hour Maxi (10 tampons) and levels in between, you can find exactly what you need for every day of your period. It also has Removable, maternity, Swimwear, and positive option.
- Saalt ($29-$39) underwear is made from three water bottles recycled after consumption. It only provides two levels of absorbency, Lightweight (1–2 lightweight tampons) and Normal to High (2-3 regular tampons), yet cute in style with mesh and lace options. I recommend using other brands for your heavy days.
- Bambody ($1-$19) There are also only two levels of absorbency — Leakproof (for spotty or ultralight days) and Absorbent (2 tampons) —but it’s one of the more affordable options, along with the Ky Company above.
- Proof ($25-$43) comes in more basic designs with four levels of absorbency: Light (1 tampon), Moderate (3 tampons), Heavy (4 tampons) and Extra Heavy (5 tampons).
- Pure Rosy ($29-$32) offer only three styles and one level of absorbency (up to 2 lightweight tampons), but they’re cute and have some lace accents — the company says more options will be available in spring 2022 The company said working with DARE . Women’s Organization to provide her underwear to young Tanzanian girls, as well as food and water to communities in need.
- Cora ($30) has just one style and level of absorption, so I hope the company expands it. But if you are buying period warming mentioned below and wanted to try on some lingerie, they are very nice.
- Adidas Periodic Proof Shorts ($45) and Pantyhose ($65) expensive, but they are made with period underwear built in. The brand recommends wearing these along with tampons, pads, or cups for added protection, especially if you’re going to hit the gym or work out for a while, but I found it to be absorbent enough without any something else. The Cycling Shorts ($45) I tried are still available from Nordstrom, at least for now (they are not available on the Adidas website).
Tampons and pads need to be changed often and aren’t good for the environment — they’re made to be thrown away after a few hours. However, menstrual cups are long-lasting reusable silicone cups that hold blood and prevent leaks. Buy it once and it will last several years. There’s a learning curve, so try it on the days you’re going home, and you may have to try a few before you find the perfect one.
To use the menstrual cup, you need to fold it (yes There are many different ways to do this) and insert it into your vagina. Feel around to make sure it’s fully open and create a seal. When you’re ready to take it out, lightly pinch the base of the cup to break the seal – it’s a weird feeling, but don’t worry, it won’t be like being ripped apart. Depending on your flow, most menstrual cups can last for 12 hours, so you can go an entire workday without needing to empty your cup in a public bathroom. Put a cup in it is a great resource to help you determine which cup might be best. YouTuber RawBeautyKristi also provides some good tips on her menstrual cup experience.
Our Favorite Cup
I appreciate and see advantages in all the mugs I’ve tried for this guide, but I’ve always prioritized other options. They don’t hurt, but like I knew I was using one, until I tried the Lily Cup. Once it got in, I forgot it was there. I even slept in it comfortably.
The secret is 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, can’t find one you love, give this one a try. Like most cups available, there is one for those who have not given birth vaginally and those who have given birth.
The most options
If Lily Cup doesn’t appeal to you or you need more options, MeLuna will be popular in this category. There are several sizes, levels of sturdiness, and stem types to choose from, and the company provides helpful tips for finding the right fit.
Kits are also available, including one that comes with an autoclave to sterilize cups ($56). Most people simply boil them for hygiene, but if you live somewhere like a dorm where you don’t want to boil your menstrual cup in the communal kitchen, that’s an opinion. good.
Menstrual discs we like
I think most people will like Lily, but there is no one-size-fits-all product when it comes to menstruation. There are more options that we also like, and most are cheaper.
- The Nixit Plate ($42) is a shallower cup, but otherwise works the same way. WIRED reviewer Louryn Strampe tested it and says it’s a good choice if you don’t like the feeling of suction after getting rid of the traditional menstrual cup. Menstrual discs go back deeper into the vagina, which means you can still have penetrative sex while using them.
- Flex Disc ($11 for 8) and Softdiscs ($11 for 14) are disposable versions of the Nixit Disc above, and some of us at WIRED have tried them out. If you hate regular menstrual cups but have never tried discs, you can start here and then get Nixit if you decide you want a reusable option—Flex has a reusable version ($35) nor did we try. These also work for sex during a no-frills period.
For some reason, the thought of a reusable pad may seem a little harder to wrap your head around than old underwear, but they’re essentially the same thing. WIRED Editor Adrienne So tested the following pads and said they were all well made and even cute. Their wings wrap around your panties instead of sticking together, and depending on what you buy, there may be several small pockets to tuck in.
The idea of carrying around a bloody used pad is, uh, a bit weird. But you can use them at home or opt for a dedicated carrying case — our favorite pad, GladRags, has a few options because the you try. For home storage, you may want to get a small sealed box where you can soak the pad in cold water and wash it completely at the end of the day, or at least rinse enough so the mattress can sit until you’re ready to wash a load of clothes.