Reusable menstrual products: 2020 edition
February 23, 2020 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Do you have a period system that includes reusable menstrual pads and underwear? Did you go out and buy 7 days worth of $30/pair Thinx? Or is there a set of reusable pads that's actually secure and won't slide all over your normal underwear? What works best for preventing leakage when your period is really heavy? I already have a cup but I need serious backup.

My periods are heavy and long, and solutions meant for light flow will not work for me. Yes, even with the cup. I saw a question from four years ago but I have a reusable pad from around that time and it doesn't work great. I'm hoping technology has improved.

(I have already tried hormonal methods for controlling the Red Tide and for various reasons am not going down that route again at this time)
posted by schroedinger to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I know someone who bought the Thinkx and they were very happy - they did not use a cup, so this was their only protection.

There are also now other brands of period underwear available for less than $10/pair. I might not trust them to work like Thinkx (as sole protection), but they work very well as an emergency pad when using a cup. (I also have a heavy period and this brand has stood up to a major flood without leaking - and that was when visiting someone with white chairs, very nerve-racking).
posted by jb at 8:43 AM on February 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I bought 7 pair of Thinx a couple of years ago and have been mostly happy with them. They hold up well to a lot of machine washing, are comfortable, and work as advertised. I've found that on my heaviest day they can leak a little at the edge of the gusset, so I sometimes wear a tampon with them, but I haven't had any major incidents wearing them on their own.

My only complaint is that they take a very long time to hang dry (which isn't a surprise given their purpose), so you really need a large supply if you're going to use them exclusively. I have moderate periods that last 3-4 days and 7 pair sometimes isn't enough.
posted by subluxor at 9:07 AM on February 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I had similarly heavy periods and found that I have to use a combination of methods. Just one wi not cut it. I have been very very happy with the combination of a cup and heavy-duty reusable pads - Party in My Pants, while pricey, have been remarkably durable. I've had my cup for about 8 years and the pads for about 4.

The reusable pads can hold a lot of liquid without leaking. On very heavy days, I have to switch them out a couple times and empty the cup a few times. But it's oh-so-much better than disposable pads.
posted by aquamvidam at 9:38 AM on February 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

After reading a lot of period underwear reviews, I decided to get the modibodi ones and I am happy with them. They have sales often.
posted by medusa at 9:44 AM on February 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I use a cup plus Thinx--the Thinx work as backup for the cup, and also for those irritating periods where I'm just spotting for days and days. I like them because they're convenient--I don't have to search for a pad or tampon, they work under any clothing without making me self-conscious, and I don't have to worry about keeping things in the right place, changing throughout the day, etc.

It took me a couple tries to find the right styles and sizes for my (plus-sized) body, but they have a surprisingly nice return policy given the nature of the product. And yes, sizes, plural: I'm actually different sizes in different styles.

I prefer the hiphuggers for heavy days (I don't usually like hiphuggers but these are comfortable--almost more like full briefs), and the air bikini for spotting days or as backup when I'm wearing a cup and biking. I cheat and machine-dry them and it works fine for everything but the cotton ones I tried early on--they got ugly pretty quickly.
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:22 AM on February 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Since you mentioned reusable pads sliding around on you, I have wingless cloth pads and use a couple small pieces of double sided tape on the back. I've cut the wings off some other pads in favor of the tape method because I find they slide and the wings add bulk. I've also made my own period underwear by hand sewing layers of flannel (some for light, some medium days) to a cheap pack of cotton underwear. They're ugly, but I'm the only one who sees them and they were super cheap to make. For a heavier flow DIY option, other types of fabric like a fleece backing and terry cloth middle layer (and multiple layers in general) would be better than flannel.
posted by rawralphadawg at 10:56 AM on February 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I bought a couple of (classic cheeky) Thinx underwear and hand wash them when I change so I always have at least one handy. It takes mine ~6 hours to hang dry. I find that even on birth control, I very occassionally bleed enough to get on the sides of the gusset, which then gets on to my pants (I don't use other protection).

I would say that my flow on birth control is very light, and that I would not be comfortable using Thinx alone if I wasn't on birth control, even the hip-huggers (which apparently hold twice as much liquid as the classic cheeky ones).
posted by typify at 1:50 PM on February 23, 2020

I am still happy with the Pandora Pads I bought as cup or tampon backup years ago, but I don't think they're in business anymore; I was just looking at Luna Pads, which have wrap-around wings with snaps (similar to Pandora's, and those stay put). For briefs, I was looking at Knix Leakproof Underwear (as I'm a fan of a few of their other offerings, and Knix advertises these wares with "enjoy worry-free protection from periods, pee, and sweat" -- I feel like products for urinary incontinence are held to a higher standard) in hopes they'll work as overnight-pad backup for fibroid-induced flooding incidents.

Just in case you (or the person reading your question via the archives) aren't aware: there are prescription medications for heavy flow that aren't reproductive-hormone-based: tranexamic acid and desmopressin (artificial vasopressin, which is a hormone). Tranexamic acid (aka Lysteda, as prescribed in the US; aka Cyklo-F, for example, as OTC elsewhere) can be taken 3x/day for the five heaviest days of flow in the cycle (and it's helped me); I know less about desmopressin's use for this problem (often combined with tranexamic acid), but it too is only administered during the actual period, in tablet or nasal spray form. (I'm trialing desmopressin right now, for other reasons, and coincidentally my normal crime-scene flow is lighter this month even though I'm not taking the 'therapeutic dose' for menorraghia.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:38 PM on February 23, 2020

The Canadian company Lunapads sells menstrual boxer briefs with an absorbent inner panel that goes all the way up to the back waistband. Reusable cloth inserts, also made and sold by Lunapads, can be swapped out for the inner panel.

The cost for one set of boxer briefs is $42 (though they're currently on sale for $33); the reusable inserts are $6 for a Maxi (10 inches long by 2.5 inches wide) or $8 for a Long (12 inches by 2.5 inches).

The biggest size currently available for sale on the Lunapads website is 2XL (for someone with hips up to 49.5 inches); they make them up to a 3XL. Several reviews on the website mentioned that the briefs run small; Lunapads' own sizing advice suggested sizing up if you are between sizes.
posted by virago at 6:08 PM on February 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

So as not to misuse the edit window any further: Size 3XL in Lunapads' menstrual boxer briefs will fit someone with hips 50-53.5 inches (according to the company's size chart).
posted by virago at 6:16 PM on February 23, 2020

I also use modibodi and recommend them.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:34 PM on February 23, 2020

I am a cup-and-Thinx person. I have never overflowed my Thinx, but I am pretty cup-aware - I can feel it getting heavy and most days I can find a place to empty it before I overflow the cup too much. I have four pairs of Thinx because on lighter days I will just use the cup, and I have a couple of pairs of cheap period underwear that don't fit so well that I'll wear to sleep on heavy nights or on the weekends if I'm just home.

I'm perimenopausal right now and have no idea from "month" to "month" what's going to happen, so I try with the flow? And since I started using this combo maybe a year and a half ago I haven't stained sheets or clothing.
posted by wellred at 5:47 AM on February 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Reusable pads made of fleece are a lot less inclined to slide around, in my experience. You can also use a strategically deployed safety pin if you're still having trouble.
posted by BlueNorther at 6:21 AM on February 25, 2020

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