The brand I chose to try sells several different styles, some of which make sense to me (the hiphugger, cotton brief, hi-waist, and boyshorts are all supposed to hold up to two tampons’ worth of fluid) and others that mystified me. (A thong? Why?!) As with any new underwear, I washed mine before wearing them for the first time. The general care rules: Wear your period panties during your period, rinse them out in the sink or shower as soon as possible after taking them off, and then machine wash and line dry them the next time you do laundry. I had five pairs in hand, though according to Dani, some people start out with three pairs or even one or two, though that's not ideal for reasons that soon became very apparent to me.
Dani explained that the underwear can be used as backup to a tampon or menstrual cup to prevent leaks, or you can wear the underwear all by itself if your flow isn't too heavy or if you're OK with changing pairs throughout the day. Since I was hoping to use mine to replace other products rather than as a backup, I planned to carry an extra pair and a plastic bag with me, as Dani suggested.
My first day tends to be light to moderate, so I put on my first pair around 8am. I was in and out of the house and feeling a bit apprehensive, but there was no problem at all. It was nearly 7pm when I started to feel like I might need a change, but I knew I'd be awake for a few more hours, and I didn't want to dirty three pairs in a single day. So I rinsed them out, changed into the boyshorts, and put a pad on top. Right before bed, I took off the pad and slept all night … and it was totally fine.
At this point I was impressed but not totally sold because my flow hadn't gotten super heavy yet. That was about to change. I decided to wear the underwear coupled with pads or tampons until about 6pm, then I ditched the other products and just went with the period panties until bedtime. I rinsed them, changed into a clean pair and wore them alone all night—on new white sheets (eek!). But there were no leaks.
Now into day three, I was feeling a bit bolder despite having a fairly heavy flow. Although I had initially planned to keep an extra pair and a plastic bag on hand, the idea of having to switch out underwear in the middle of the day (and carry around a used pair) suddenly seemed incredibly unappealing. I put on a clean pair and wore them for close to six hours, until I eventually had the sense that the underwear was approaching maximum capacity. (How you're supposed to know this still isn't totally clear to me, but I was definitely starting to feel a bit damp.) With bedtime hours away and no interest in changing two more times, I put on a clean pair along with a pad. Then I slept overnight in just the underwear, and it worked perfectly.
Once my flow started to lighten up in the days that followed, I was able to wear a single pair all day long with nothing else; I just changed into a new one before bed. By the end of the week (yes, my period lasts that long), I had definitely cut back dramatically on the amount of disposable menstrual products I was using, but I had also done an awful lot of extra laundry.
In the end, I wouldn't say that using this product is more convenient. It's not cheap, either: Each pair retails for around $30-40. The main pro, for me, is comfort coupled with a little less waste clogging the landfills. I especially liked wearing them overnight. I still have no idea how they lasted all night—I usually put on my bulkiest pad before bed—but somehow they did.
Going forward, I don't see myself using these panties on my heaviest period days. The idea of having to change underwear (and rinse it out) once, twice or three times during the day doesn't seem worth it, and when I stretched the underwear as long as I could on a heavy flow day, I just didn't feel so fresh or confident. But I'm definitely planning to use them on light days at the beginning and end of my cycle; if I can go an entire day with just wearing one pair of special underwear, that's a win.