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This Is Your Complete Guide To Period Panties

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This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

A few years ago, I came across a YouTube video where a famous American YouTuber was trying out something called “period panties”. The thought about free bleeding into specific underwear during menstruation seemed peculiar to me, so I watched the whole video, which led me to discover a whole new concept of period clothing.

Soon enough, I came to understand that such underwear is available in Indian markets too and that several videos have been uploaded by Indian women regarding their experiences using the same as well. This intrigued me further to think about a few questions about period underwear.

Source: Healthline.com

1. What Exactly Is Period Underwear?

The most recent advancement in the sphere of menstrual products has been the introduction of period underwear in markets. These are supposed to be leak proof underpants functioning like a pad. The difference is that there is no presence of an actual pad, leading to no plastic waste or a diaper-y feeling. In the past few years, there has been a steady rise in retailers selling such underwears, with several types and brands coming up with a variety of sizes. Some companies have also started producing specific lines meant just for teenagers.

2. Why Should I Buy Period Underwear?

Opting for period underwear may be a good option if one is looking for a sustainable way to manage their periods. Along with the comfort of not having to wear an additional pad, tampon or menstrual cup, it is also a zero-waste, sustainable option that can be reused, unlike a pad that is thrown after one use and takes 500-800 years to decompose fully.

Mostly, all the layers in period underwear are breathable. Other pros include them being able to hold a couple of tampons full of blood and their availability in several sizes and styles, depending upon your preference. Also, they are suitable for postpartum wear.

3. Are There Any Brands That I Can Consider?

A large variety of such underwear is available in the Indian market. A few Indian brands to go through would be Soch Green, HealthFab’s Go Pad Free and Adira. These underwears come with different features, like having separate inserts with wings that can be fixed on the underwear to extend its usage period, and claiming to be super absorbent while keeping the underwear as thin as possible.

Adira holds the patent for period panties in India and the USA and sells different styles for different flow days. These panties have leak-proof crotches and are mostly made of cotton, making the wearer feel comfortable throughout their period. The pricing is competitive, and they are available in a range of sizes, usually ranging from XS to XXL.

4. How Am I Supposed To Wear It? How Should I Decide Which Style To Go With?

Every brand comes with its own set of instructions on how to wear the underwear. In general, it should be worn on days when you’re bleeding. Depending upon your flow and the day of the period, the style of underwear to be worn can be decided. The panties can be supplemented with a tampon, pad, or menstrual cup if need be. Having a heavy flow and wearing light-flow period underwear could result in needing to change your underwear often in case of overflow. Therefore this supplementation can help.

5. What Is The Proper Procedure For Its Washing And Storage?

It can be washed in the washing machine, the same way you wash the rest of your underwear but at the same time, it is essential to look for specific instructions that your period underwear came with. This will explain particular dos and don’ts for your pair. If not in the washing machine, for more delicate fabrics hand-washing can be done. Although, general washing instructions would be to rinse the underwear in cold water until it runs clear followed by putting it in a cold machine wash while avoiding fabric softener. It can be hung out to dry.

6. Does This Underwear Come With Any Cons?

Yes, period underwear does have some negative aspects as well. It is costly up-front compared with other collection devices. It can be difficult to change if one is not at home, and if the flow is heavy, it may need to be changed more than once a day which can prove to be cumbersome.

Extra laundry needs to be done, which may get messy due to the blood, and if one wants to save themselves from this extra laundry, more period panties shall have to be bought, leading to more expenditure. If used for too long or if blood starts to overflow, there is a chance of foul odour.

Also, there is a constant feeling of being scared, thinking about shifting of the underwear and blood leaking through it and staining clothes. Such underwear is sustainable but isn’t the most sustainable menstrual product out there. Lastly, not a lot of market research has been done on period underwear, which is essential for a successful business.

Therefore, the option of going ahead with using period underwear is entirely dependent upon personal preferences and experiences. Menstruation is a time where comfort should be of optimal concern, and if such panties can provide it for you, they should be considered!

Featured image courtesy of Gaelx on Flickr

The author is a part of the current batch of the #PeriodParGyan Writer’s Training Program.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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