Ever since my very first period, I've preferred to use pads over tampons. So when I first started noticing the controversial ads for Thinx plastered all over New York City's subway system, I felt a surge of hope for my tampon-free lifestyle. “Underwear for women with periods." Oh hey, that’s me. But, I wondered: Are they just … stylish diapers? Will I feel like a 19th century woman on the rag? Feeling skeptically optimistic, I decided to put this promising-sounding product to the test.
It turns out Thinx underwear come in six styles, each with a level of absorbency measured in tampons (seriously): from hiphuggers ("two tampons' worth of fluid") to a thong (half a tampon's worth). But there is one key point that must be made clear: Thinx doesn't claim to replace your feminine hygiene product of choice. The company's site explains that their super-wicking undies are meant to serve as a backup, although depending on your flow, you may choose to rely solely on Thinx—which is what I bravely attempted to do for 48 hours.
I'm not gonna lie, even my pad-accustomed self was nervous about going solo with just these pretty panties for protection. Seeing how cute they were in person made me all the more dubious. How can this modestly thick fabric with lacy trim actually control bleeding?
All morning long I found myself making paranoid trips to the bathroom. But all I could see was a relatively harmless-looking damp spot in my black cheeky undies. Once I felt confident that I wasn’t going to spring a leak, I let myself have a normal Monday, which happens to be the day I take a kickboxing class at the gym. Exercising in the cheeky style was actually pretty cool. Every woman on team maxi knows the risk involved in exercising on your period (*cough* diaper rash). As someone who once ran 14 miles with a pad on (go ahead, cry for me), this felt revolutionary. Immediately after my workout though, I couldn't wait to change into a fresh pair. (To clean my Thinx, I followed the instructions and hand-washed with soap and cold water, then hung them to dry.)
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For the heaviest day of my cycle, I whipped out the big guns—the hip huggers. These have about the same thickness as the cheeky cut, but a lot more booty coverage. By now, I was feeling confident that Thinx could handle my flow.
I put them on at around 8:00 am. But by 10:00 am, I felt like I was wearing a wet bathing suit. The underwear seemed to have stopped absorbing any moisture at all, as if they were filled to capacity, if that's even possible for underwear.
Like on day one, I was making regular trips to the bathroom, but this time I wasn't being overly cautious. Each time I blotted the fabric with gobs of toilet paper. Totally gross, I know. And then it got worse.
Around 3:00 pm, the unthinkable happened. I was typing away at my desk when I felt moisture between my thighs (cue middle school flashbacks). The undies had given up, well before I was ready to. To avoid the ultimate nightmare of visible leakage, I kept up my toilet paper blotting and by some miracle, it worked.
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Usually on Tuesdays I make a mad dash from work to the gym, to avoid the "sorry I'm late" tiptoe into my favorite strength training class. I’m a creature of habit so I wasn’t about to let a pair of malfunctioning panties stand in the way of my routine.
But in retrospect I should have because it turned out wetness wasn't my biggest problem. Three plié squats in and it occurred to me that my Thinx REEKED, which meant that I reeked. Pads must have been doing me a solid all these years, masking odor and sparing me the humiliation. I had no idea what unfiltered period stench actually smelled like.
In the end, yes, wearing Thinx underwear on a heavy day made me feel a lot like a 19th century woman on the rag. But I can definitely recommend sporting a pair on lighter days. Even after my personal hygiene nightmare, I didn't toss my hip huggers. After all, they were by no means ruined. They were made to survive leaks—which, all criticism aside, is pretty cool for a pair of period underwear.