Many women will admit to owning at least one pair of granny panties they keep tucked in the back of the lingerie drawer for when Aunt Flo comes for her monthly visit. Although these dreaded go-to period panties help catch spotting, they are mostly unflattering, especially with a tampon or pad. Now, Thinx has come up with a “solution” to a woman’s period woes — a stain-resistant and anti-bacterial period panty that can absorb up to 6 teaspoons of liquid. But how hygienic and safe is this for women’s health?
Connie Wang, from Refinery 29, fearlessly tried a pair of period panties on, commending its design: “But, while the crotch is definitely thicker than your average pair of underwear, they feel a heckuva lot more comfortable than a maxi pad or even a panty liner, and there's zero 'plastic swishing' noise that you'd expect from something this absorbent,” Wang wrote. After a day of wear, Thinx creators say, women can throw them in the laundry on a cold rinse and wash cycle, but they should avoid fabric softeners that can reduce the effectiveness of its superabsorbent technologies. Women can also handwash them first with detergent. Although period panties seem like a stylish solution, are women risking their health for comfort?
Whether women wear a pad or a tampon, Womanshealth.gov suggests changing before either becomes soaked with blood. Women should changed tampons at least every four to eight hours. Leaving on superabsorbent tampons for long periods of time can increase women's risk of exposure to bacteria that can lead to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Although cases of TSS are seen more often with tampon use, wearing a pad for more than eight hours or so, can increase the risk, too.
Once menstrual blood leaves the body, it gets contaminated with the body’s innate organisms, which can multiply when they remain in a warm and moist place. Chances are the sweat from a woman’s genitals could provide the breeding grounds for this bacteria to grow and possibly lead to urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, and skin rashes. Therefore, it is important to change regularly, and a period panty may actually help harbor bacteria and lead to health complications for women. As a rule of thumb: Nothing left in the vagina for too long can be a good thing, and these period panties may not be sanitary either.
Women who want to try Thinx underwear at their own risk should know the panties' crotch area is made up of four layers: moisture wicking layer, the anti-microbial/stain-resistant layer, the absorption layer, and the leak-proof layer.
Thinx period panties are environmentally friendly, since they help women eliminate the use of pads and tampons. As the creators note, on average, a woman throws away 17,000 pads and tampons in her life. Sizes range from 0 to 22, available in seven styles, and for every pair bought, reusable cloth AFRIpads are given to a young woman in Uganda to allow her to stay in school during her menstrual cycle.
Ladies, try at your own risk.