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Published Sep. 21, 2021

The best period panties provide a comfortable, sustainable alternative to landfill-clogging products. If you menstruate, you’ll likely buy and discard thousands of single-use tampons and pads during your lifetime. Instead of purchasing, using, and discarding those products every month, you can invest in absorbent underwear to wash and reuse over and over again. 

By layering pieces of absorbent material into underwear gussets, period panties provide the same leak protection as a menstrual pad—often with more comfort for the wearer, thanks to moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics that keep you feeling dry throughout the day. You can also wear period panties for as long as they continue to absorb your flow—unlike tampons, which the Food and Drug Administration recommends changing at least once every eight hours to avoid toxic shock syndrome. 

Period panties come in just about any cut you can think of, from boyshorts to bikinis to thongs. Here’s everything you should consider when buying absorbent underwear to meet all your menstrual hygiene needs. 

How We Picked These Products

Methodology

After researching the materials and engineering that go into creating a leak-proof pair of panties, we scoured the web for products that do the best job of absorbing menstrual blood while maintaining comfort and style. We also researched safety concerns raised about chemicals found in period underwear to ensure the products we featured are safe to wear. We based our recommendations on expert advice, user reviews, and personal experience. We considered price, durability, fit, level of absorbance, and frequency of unexpected leaks in our evaluations.

The Best Period Panties: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall Period Panties: Thinx Hiphugger Menstrual Underwear

All-Day Comfort

The best underwear for women with periods. THINX

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Why It Made the Cut: As the most popular style created by one of the world’s most popular period panty brands, the Thinx Hiphugger provides excellent protection while passing as a chic pair of underwear. 

Specs: 

  • Available in moderate (3 tampons) and super absorbency (5 tampons)
  • Lace waistband 
  • Body 89 percent nylon, 11 percent elastane; gusset 95 percent cotton, 5 percent elastane; absorbent layer 100 percent polyurethane laminate fabric

Pros:

  • Fashionable design with lots of color options
  • Leakproof and odorproof
  • Available up to size 4X

Cons:

  • Hiphugger cut may not provide enough coverage during heavy flow 
  • Has to air dry 

The general concept of underwear that can absorb menstrual flow is decades old, but Thinx is one of a handful of companies responsible for bringing the idea into the 21st century. But Thinx isn’t just popular because of its groundbreaking marketing campaigns: the company also makes some of the best period panties on the market. 

Unlike some competitors, Thinx’s panties feel soft and comfortable to wear—no weird crinkly, plasticky layers in the absorbent gusset—while still preventing leaks. Its underwear is also true-to-size and fashionable. 

Thinx period panties feature a patented gusset designed to absorb menstrual liquid, sweat, and even small amounts of urine. The top layer is moisture-wicking, which means it pulls liquid down into it quickly to keep the wearer feeling dry. Blood is drawn into a super-absorbent core layer, which sits against a water-resistant piece of fabric to keep it from leaking. The layers also include antimicrobial treatments to neutralize the bacteria that cause odor. 


Thinx sells a wide variety of period panty styles with different levels of absorption, but its Hiphugger design—the company’s original best-seller—is bound to look at home in any underwear drawer. Featuring a stylish lace waistband and available in a variety of colors, the Hiphugger is designed to be worn on moderate days, and also comes in a “super” absorbent version to wear during heavy flow.

Best Budget Period Panties: The Period Company High-Waisted Super-Absorbent Underwear 

Perfect Period Partner

Four-layer absorbency can handle a full day’s flow. The period Company

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Why It Made the Cut: With a price point that’s hard to beat and the most inclusive sizing we’ve found, The Period Company makes it easy to stock up for your whole menstrual cycle. Their high-waisted cut is especially comfortable when dealing with period bloating. 

Specs:

  • Holds 8-10 tampons of blood
  • Waistband sits just below navel 
  • Body 95 percent organic cotton, 5 percent spandex jersey; absorbent layer 100 percent polyester; leakproof layer 100 percent polyurethane laminate fabric

Pros:

  • Super-breathable fabric 
  • Affordable
  • Available up to size 6X

Cons:

  • Recommended hand wash and air dry 
  • Sizes not listed and limited color options

The Period Company has a lot going for it: Comfortable, absorbent cotton underwear, inclusive sizing up to 6X, and even an adaptive period panty with velcro fasteners designed to help wheelchair users and other people who can’t easily step in and out of an undergarment. 

They’re also far more affordable than anything that comes close in terms of quality. Reviewers praise the easy-to-wear, soft cotton material, and say the classic high-waisted cut is both comfortable and cute. The brand claims these panties will absorb 8 to 10 tampons of blood; based on reviews, we recommend using them on moderate-flow days, or as a backup with a menstrual cup or tampon on heavy days. 

The Period Company’s gusset features four layers of moisture-wicking, absorbent, and leakproof fabrics to trap menstrual flow. The brand also boasts “unique seam technology” to prevent blood from seeping through the stitching. 

Unlike many period panties, The Period Company’s products are allegedly able to handle a regular wash cycle and a low tumble dry. But reviewers report that these affordable pairs wear out fast when thrown into regular laundry loads, so consider hand washing and air drying them to help them last longer.

Best Period Panties for Sleeping: Goat Union Overnight Period Shorts

Machine Washable

Designed for comfort and performance. Goat Union

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Why It Made the Cut: Goat Union may not be as well known as brands like Thinx, but these period panties have been singled out for several awards and get rave reviews from users. We’re particularly impressed by their sleep shorts, which offer a comfortable, breathable alternative to regular period panties while sleeping. 

Specs: 

  • Absorbs 3 to 4 tampons of menstrual flow 
  • High-waisted, 2-inch inseam shorts
  • Outer body 95 percent bamboo cellulose fiber, 5 percent spandex; inner body 95 percent cotton, 5 percent spandex; absorbent layer 80 percent polyester, 20 percent nylon; leak proof layer 100 percent polyester coated with thermoplastic polyurethane

Pros:

  • Breathable but leakproof design
  • Available up to size 3XL
  • Can also be worn under clothes during the day 

Cons:

  • Available only in black 
  • Frequently sold out 

Period underwear meant for overnight use has to strike a delicate balance. Having a high level of absorbency is all the more important while you’re sleeping—after all, no one wants to have to wake up in the middle of the night to change pairs, even if you could count on jumping out of bed before your sheets are stained. That means having a thick, large gusset to catch menstrual flow and a design that minimizes the risk of seams slipping around and allowing leaks. But comfort is crucial as well: You need something flexible, breathable, and dry enough not to impede your sleep. 

Goat Union’s overnight period shorts fit the bill. Their outer fabric is supersoft bamboo, and the gusset—the standard wicking, absorbing, and leakproof combo—stretches all the way up to the waistband on either side. That means it holds plenty of liquid to get you through the night (3 to 4 tampons worth) and you don’t have to worry that nocturnal tossing and turning will shift your protection out of place. You can also wear them under loose-fitting pants or dresses during the day. 

Best Period Panties for Tweens: Thinx BTWN Teen Period Underwear – Fresh Start Period Kit for Teen Girls

Game Changer for Tweens and Teens

Panties so pretty, girls will love wearing them. Thinx BTWN

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Why It Made the Cut: Thinx BTWN offers styles and sizing tailored to suit the needs of tweens and young teens. We love their adorable styles and patterns, and the products are ideal for providing backup to avoid leaks while at school. 

Specs: 

  • Absorbs 5 tampons 
  • Body 95 percent organic cotton, 5 percent elastane; gusset 100 percent polyurethane laminate fabric
  • Available in bikini, brief, and boyshort cuts 

Pros:

  • Available in child sizes to fit menstruating tweens
  • Made of cotton for comfort and breathability 
  • Available in cute colors and patterns 

Cons:

  • Must hang dry
  • Some reviewers report panties running small 

In addition to products for adults, Thinx offers a line of cute, colorful cotton period panties aimed at (and sized for) tweens and teens. Thinx BTWN panties come in bikini, brief, and boyshort cuts. The line also includes sleep shorts. All BTWN products use Thinx’s “super” level of absorbance, which holds 4 to5 tampons. 

The BTWN gussets use the same four-layer protection system as Thinx’s adult underwear line; they’re designed to draw moisture away from the body, neutralize odor-causing bacteria, absorb blood, and hold in leaks. 

Thinx BTWN period panties come in child sizes 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-16, which means they’ll fit users with hip measurements from 29-39 inches. According to reviewers, adults who wear size small or medium size sometimes find these panties cuter and more comfortable than Thinx’s adult offerings. 

Best Period Panties for Heavy Flow: Thinx Hi-Waist Menstrual Underwear

Not Granny Panties

Retro look with modern technology. THINX

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Why It Made the Cut: If banishing any possibility of a leak is your priority, this throwback style from Thinx is your best bet. Its absorbent panel extends high up in the back and front, minimizing the likelihood of spillage. 

Specs: 

  • Available in heavy (4 tampons) and super absorbency (5 tampons)
  • Ultra-high-waisted style with fashionable mesh panels
  • Body 89 percent nylon, 11 percent elastane; gusset 95 percent cotton, 5 percent elastane; absorbent layer 100 percent polyurethane laminate fabric

Pros:

  • Recommended for postpartum bleeding 
  • Leakproof and odorproof
  • Fashionable design with lots of color options

Cons:

  • May feel snug while you’re bloated; some users recommend sizing up 
  • Must air dry 

While the Thinx Hiphugger is a good all-purpose period panty, the brand’s Hi-Waist cut is unparalleled when it comes to handling heavy-flow days. 

These period panties have Thinx’s standard four-layer gusset—moisture wicking, odor eliminating, blood absorbing, and leak blocking. The gusset is larger and provides more coverage than most period panties we’ve tried, making it ideal for all-day wear without risking leaks. 

If you want to wear a single pair of period panties all day during a really heavy menstrual flow, you’re going to need some kind of backup like a tampon or menstrual cup. But with the Thinx Hi-Waist, you won’t have to worry about making frequent trips to the bathroom to make sure you’re covered: these panties hold a lot of liquid, and keep you feeling dry while doing so. 

The Hi-Waist style is more than just a hiding place for a larger gusset. It’s also super cute, with a retro look that makes a heavy-low day feel glamorous. And while the mesh-paneled panties are far from shapewear—they’re flexible and comfortable instead of squeezing you in—the high cut does provide a slight smoothing effect for your tummy. The Thinx Hi-Waist is available in both heavy and super-absorbent gussets, runs up to size 4X to accommodate 59-inch hips, and is true to size. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Period Panties

There are several factors you should keep in mind before switching to period panties.

Heaviness of Your Flow

Generally speaking, the more absorbant a pair of underwear is, the less it will feel like “normal” underwear—that absorbent material takes up room in the gusset, which can make period panties feel like diapers if you’re not used to wearing them. So, if you have a light menstrual flow during some or all days of your period, consider that you might actually prefer a less-absorbent pair. If you can typically get away with wearing a panty liner, you don’t need a pair of underwear that can hold five tampons.

Underwear Preference

While certain cuts of period panties might hold more liquid than others, there’s no point in buying underwear that you won’t feel comfortable in. If you only ever wear thongs, for example, well—you’re not going to be able to wear just an absorbent thong on a moderate-to-heavy flow day, but a Thinx thong could provide excellent backup for a tampon or menstrual cup. Look for fabrics and styles similar to what you already own to ensure you won’t feel uncomfortable when you’re already crampy and bloated.

Laundering

We’ve yet to come across a good period panty that is truly designed to go into your washer and dryer over and over again—most brands at least recommend air drying their products. Most reviewers complain of rips and holes after putting their period panties through the laundry. That being said, some brands and fabrics are more durable than others, and might hold up well under low dryer heat. If hanging your underwear out to dry once a month sounds miserable, make sure you’re buying from a brand that doesn’t outright forbid a tumble dry.

FAQs

Q:

Can I use period panties instead of tampons or menstrual cups?

Yes and no. On light- to moderate-flow days, you can probably find a period panty absorbent enough to keep you dry all day. And unlike a tampon, there’s no health risk associated with going hours between changes (though, like all underwear, you should absolutely put on a fresh pair each day). 

But while period underwear cuts down on the number of paper products you have to throw away each cycle, it’s not magic. Period panties cannot hold an infinite amount of liquid. You’re probably going to need more than one pair on a heavy-flow day, just as you’d have to use multiple tampons or dump out and rinse your menstrual cup. Since changing your underwear and storing a soiled pair away creates more of a fuss at school or the office than changing a tampon is, we recommend using a tampon with your period panties as leak-protection backup on heavier days. 

If you want the sustainability and comfort of period panties but don’t want to change pairs throughout the day, consider buying reusable pads, which essentially allows you to swap in a fresh gusset every few hours. Many come with waterproof bags for storing used pads during the day. If you don’t mind taking your pants or tights off to change, you can also use a small wet bag to store entire soiled period panties during the day as you change.

Q:

How should I care for my period panties?

All period panties should be rinsed out ASAP after use. Hand washing them with lingerie detergent and allowing them to air dry is the best way to ensure they last longer, but all the brands we’ve recommended can be tossed into the hamper and washed in a machine after you’ve rinsed and wrung them out. We highly recommend air drying your period panties, but a low dryer setting is often fine. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure.

Q:

How many pairs of period panties do I need?

How many period panties you need depends on how you’ll use them (as a sole source of protection or as backup) and how heavy your flow is. We recommend getting sleep shorts for every night of your period, and buying at least one pair of period panties for every day of your cycle. Most women will need at least two pairs a day if they don’t plan on using additional tampons or menstrual cups.

Final Thoughts

While other brands may have individual products that shine, Thinx is the gold standard when it comes to period panties that look good, feel good, and keep you dry and leak-free while you’re menstruating. The brand’s Hiphugger style will probably feel the most like stuff you’ve already got in your underwear drawer, thanks to its trendy cut and chic lace waistband. But if you’re into higher cuts, have a heavier flow, or love retro-style lingerie, go straight for the Thinx Hi-Waist.

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