When I stop to think about it, it kind of amazes me how much time I've devoted to making my periods suck less. It especially befuddles my mom, who is of the belief that women were basically put on this earth by God to suffer. I do not personally subscribe to that philosophy, but when a woman who gave birth to eight children without any pain medicine tells you to suck it up and stop whining about period cramps, you suck it up. (Then when she's not around you search the cabinet for children's Tylenol, which is all she keeps in the house.)
However, my periods became extremely painful in college, seriously painful, the "dry heaving and passing out from the pain" kind of painful. My mom didn't like the idea of me going on birth control (surely you've figured out by this point that my mom is super Catholic) but my best friend's mom convinced her to give me the green light and, for several glorious years, I was able to play hooky from my period entirely.
Fast-forward to present day: I'm off birth control and have to deal with a period again. Leaving aside the issue of nightmare cramps (which may or may not be coming back to kick my ass), I had forgotten just how uncomfortable periods are. I can't use tampons (it's kind of a long story) and when I use pads it feels like I'm sitting in a pool of my own blood while wearing a diaper. Those are two of the WORST feelings in the world. I do have a menstrual cup, but some days I just do not feel like shoving the thing all the way up there.
All of this oversharing finally brings me to my point: I have, at long last, figured out how to make my periods 90 percent less miserable. I'm talking about period underwear — and no, not the kind of period underwear that has stains and worn-out elastic and sits in a corner of shame in your dresser drawer for most of the month. No, this is Thinx Period Underwear, and it's seriously become one of my top three favorite things that I own. (Right now the other top two are my dog and my air conditioner.)
Thinx Period Underwear is underwear that you can wear with or without the aid of tampons/menstrual cups because it's designed to be extremely absorbent. Intrigued, I begged them to send me a pair to test out. (I was not paid for this review and set out on this menstrual journey exclusively to find ways to avoid a week of blood-diaper desperation.) They kindly acquiesced and now, a few weeks and one period later, here we are. Allow me to break down all the reasons why I love this underwear:
You can sleep in them.
I have the hip-hugger style Thinx underwear in black, which is for heaviest days (they can hold two tampons' worth of leakage). I have no idea how much that is for me, having used tampons maybe twice in my life, so I was going into this pretty blind. However, I wore these panties all by themselves overnight at the beginning of my period, and they worked! Normally when I wear pads overnight, I'm woken up a few times by the terrible sensation of period swamp ass (you know, with blood instead of sweat, but maybe I didn't have to spell that out for you in which case I apologize). That was not the case with Thinx: I slept soundly through the whole night and woke up feeling completely dry. That alone makes these a must-have for me.
You can exercise in them.
I hate having a pad chafe while I'm running, and I've definitely had a few instances of my Diva Cup betraying me in the middle of a workout class because I put it in wrong. I wore my pair of Thinx for running, yoga, and kettle-bells (not all in the same day, mind you, that was like my exercise for the entire week) and was comfortable and dry the entire time.
They're a lifesaver on dates.
If you thought this was TMI before, it's about to get even worse because now I'm bringing other people into it. (They're not being named, though, so it's fine.) OK, so: I'm not one to pass up sex just because I'm on my period. However, nothing kills the mood quite like having to run to the bathroom to remove my menstrual cup or taking off my underwear to reveal a maxi pad. Thinx underwear bypasses those awkward moments while also being super cute. They come in six different styles, including high-waisted and thong, as well as two colors: black and uhh... Sand? (I don't want to say "nude" because I know it's not everyone's nude shade, but you get the idea.) Anyway, they're so cute and normal-looking so that you don't have to worry about someone else recoiling.
You might save money in the long run.
If you're buying pads or tampons every month (which I still do even after buying a Diva Cup), that shit adds up. Thinx prices vary from $24 to $38 per pair, and you can save between 10 and 20 percent by buying a set. So, while it is a higher investment up front, even if you still use tampons or pads on heavier days, using Thinx alone on your lighter days will help you save some money. (Also, if you hate them or get the wrong size, you have 60 days to return or exchange them.)
It's good for the world.
I love that Thinx is partnered with AFRIpads; this means a portion of every purchase goes toward a good cause. Also, one of the reasons I got a Diva Cup was because I disliked the amount of waste that came with using pads. I was sad that I didn't like using a menstrual cup as much as I had hoped, so now I'm really grateful that this underwear is keeping me from using pads as often.
That leads me to the only downside I've experienced with Thinx so far: Eventually, I have to take them off to wash them. It's easy enough to do (rinse with cold water, gentle cycle, then hang dry), but while I'm waiting for them to dry I have to revert to pads. That's like going from wearing silk to wearing polyester, or like having to eat fake butter after you just got a taste of the real thing. It makes me cranky, so you better believe I'm ordering a backup pair of the hip-huggers for my next period so I never have to use pads again.
My period might still be painful, but dammit, I'm not going to put up with it being uncomfortable anymore. My four sisters all want a pair of their own now too after hearing about my experience. Who knows? Maybe I'll even be able to convert my mom.