I've been obsessed with cool new period products ever since I found out we use 11,000 disposable products in our lifetimes (and that around 90% of those products are plastic). While menstrual cups seem to have become the go-to alternative, they certainly don't work for everyone. Not only are they tricky to get used to (my first attempt took approx 30 mins, and left my bathroom looking like a crime scene), but most aren't designed with disabled customers in mind. Plus, not everyone wants to rummage around inside their vagina to remove a cup, and then rinse it out in front of strangers in a public bathroom.
Enter: period-proof pants. I'd heard of the knickers you just bleed into before, but always been super suspish. As someone with drastically heavy periods, I've always doubted the existence of a material that could handle my flow. Then, Modibodi told me their knickers are so absorbent, you can wear them on your heaviest days without so much as a drop leaking through to your clothes. Yeah, I didn't believe it either.
How they work
The reusable pants look perfectly normal and only have a 3mm-thick gusset (so you can take your adult nappy jokes elsewhere) that can hold 20ml of blood, or two tampons worth. There are different levels of absorbency, from 'super-light' to 'heavy/overnight'. And they can be used for periods, heavy discharge and bladder leaks.
They have three layers of fabric that wipe away moisture, fight bacteria and absorb all the fluid. Made from bamboo and Merino wool (sorry vegans!) they come in loads of different styles, from lacy to comfy classic briefs. They're even working on a Modibodi swimming costume.
Ranging from £15.50-£25, they're pretty cheap when you consider they're reusable and people who have periods will spend more than £18,000 on tampons and pads in their lifetime. Plus, there's a RED range specifically for teenagers to under 25s, and their parents aimed at eradicating period shame for that age group.
So, I (skeptically) tested three different styles of Modibodi pants on the first two days (read: heaviest) of my period, to see if they really work.
The first test - overnight
I usually put my menstrual cup in just before I go to sleep, and when I wake up it's full to the brim. Honestly, taking it out in the morning is a delicate procedure that frequently ends in bathroom chaos. I'm really not sure if a pair of thin pants are going to be able to handle it, but, I pop them on and get into bed. They're comfy and feel like every other pair of knickers I usually wear. I decide to wear PJ bottoms instead of just sleeping in the pants, I'm not quite that brave yet. Plus, I've just put on my favourite fancy sheets and I'd cry if they got stained.
I'm drifting off and for the first time in ages, I can feel the drops of blood. It's weird, but kind of a novelty. I'm so used to having my cup wedged up there, that actually feeling the flow do it's thing is kind of cool. Bizarrely, I feel more in touch with my body. A teeny bit afraid and still not trusting of the pants, I try to fall asleep lying flat on my back, like a corpse in a coffin.
When I wake up, I'm basically upside down and on the other side of the bed. I jump up, excited to inspect the sheets and my PJs - nothing. I'm genuinely confused and run to the loo to check I am actually on the blob. Sure enough, I wipe myself with a tissue and ta da - blood! But looking at the gusset of the pants, there's nothing. I can't see any blood on them, and when I touch them with my bare hand, there's still nothing.
Partly because I'm a sicko and partly for 'research', I give them a sniff. There's the faintest period smell (an ex once likened it to "ham and old pennies" and I think that's pretty damn perfect).
The second test - a day in the office
I put on a fresh pair and head to work. As soon as I'm in the office, I'm telling everyone how I'm bleeding straight into my pants. The news is met with mixed responses - everything from, "I'd feel a bit dirty if that was me," to "I am so jealous of you right now".
I've worn dark jeans, but ask work pals to keep an eye on my crotch and be on 'blood watch' for me. As per, I'm bloated, crampy, spotty and emotional. With a cup in, cramps aren't exactly a barrel of laughs because you can almost feel it moving. But today, I feel much comfier.
Normally, I spend the day worrying that my cup's getting full, or that I haven't put it in properly/made a seal. It's refreshing not to have to waste valuable brain space on that.
When I go to the loo at lunch, it's the first time I can see blood in the knickers. There's no big red stain or anything, it's just a little clotted bit that can't be absorbed because it's so thick. I wipe it with a tissue, and that's it.
The third test - the gym
After work, I put on a fresh pair of pants and head to the gym. I've purposefully chosen a pair of light grey running tights because by now, I'm smug and living the free flowing dream. It's super busy, and I grab a treadmill at the front of the gym, positioned directly in front of a guy roughly my age. He's basically got a bird's eye view of my butt, so if I leak, he won't be able to miss it.
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After a 30-minute HIIT workout (we're talking quick, long strides people), I'm feeling pretty... moist down there. It really does feel like I've leaked, so I dash to the loos to check. Turns out it's just my sweaty butt, so that's cool.
I've been chucking the pants into the laundry basket once I've worn them, like I would with any pair. This week it's my boyfriend's turn to do laundry and he's rifling through the basket and sorting everything into piles, when I get told off. "I don't think you should be putting these in with our other clothes," he says. I don't see what his problem is and think he's being a big baby. He's watched me remove and empty out my cup before without so much as a shudder, so I tell him to zip it.
But, because I'm not a total monster, I take them to the bathroom for a rinse before they go in the machine. It's oddly satisfying seeing the blood washing out as I ring them under the bathroom tap.
I think I was expecting that scene from The Shining when I opened the washing machine door, but everything comes out totally fine. No blood-soaked corridors in my flat.
I'm never going back
Yeah, so, I'm obsessed with Modibodis now. Now I know they're not going to leak, even when my period's at its heaviest, I'll be using them every cycle. I've told anyone who'll listen about them, and plan to buy a few more pairs for lighter days.
There was just something so freeing and chill about bleeding directly into the pants. I loved not having to faff around with changing tampons, rinsing a cup out, or carrying sanitary products around with me.
While I'll definitely use my cup when I'm swimming or wearing my favourite expenny white dungarees, these babies are going to be my go-to from now on.
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