I was hugely relieved to find I had no issues with menstrual leakage, even on my heaviest day. The underwear are stylish, comfortable and well made. But I noticed some odour, and the inconvenience of needing to wash them immediately at the end of each day was a definite downside.
Price: From $19.95
Until now the period underwear market has mostly been dominated by specialist brands that are sold online, such as Modibodi, Thinx and Love Luna.
Now big-name brand Bonds has come to the party, hoping to replace your bathroom drawer of tampons and pads.
What are Bloody Comfy Period Undies?
Bonds Bloody Comfy Period Undies look like an ordinary pair of cotton underwear – each with the familiar 'Bonds' logo stamped on the waistband. The difference is that the underwear's gusset has been designed with "innovative layering technology" – that is, an absorbent core covered in a latticed layer of fabric – which absorbs your period, wicking away most moisture and at least some odour.
They're available in three levels of absorbency at three corresponding price points – 'Heavy Flow' ($29.95), which the company says will hold the same amount of flow as four tampons; "Moderate Flow' ($24.95), which equates to three tampons; and 'Light Flow" ($19.95), which holds as much liquid as two tampons.
Understandably, the company can't make definite promises about which underwear style will work for you, or whether or not you'll also have to wear tampons or pads at the same time for extra security. After all, every woman is different and so is her period. Bonds suggest first-time users "[try] the product at home first to see what routine works best for you."
A growing market
Australian brand Modibodi claims to be one of the first period underwear brands on the market, launching in 2013. Since then several brands of period underwear have become available, all of which purport to be comfortable, leak-free and better for the environment than the 11,000 disposable menstrual products that the average woman is estimated to use in her lifetime.
Bonds is the first mainstream underwear brand to get in on the action. Their Bloody Comfy Period undies seem well made, robust and comfortable, and come in three shapes: a simple 'Bikini' style, the 'Tanga', which is high cut, and 'Gee', a g-string style that's only offered in the 'light flow' version. They also come in a generous range of sizes – from 6 to 20.
I trialled the "Heavy Flow" and "Moderate Flow" versions.
Do they work?
In terms of leakage, yes.
I trialled two levels of absorbency – the "Heavy Flow" and "Moderate Flow" versions, on heavy- and medium-flow days of my period. I was relieved that I didn't suffer from any back-of-the-jeans staining issues with either, even after wearing the robust 'Heavy Flow' version for a full day without changing them. They didn't feel noticeably wet, although I could see a small amount of wetness on the top layer of the gusset when I went to the toilet.
I didn't need to wear any other menstrual protection and I think they probably could have held even more than my heavy flow, judging by how 'full' they felt when I took them out of the washing machine.
I was relieved that I didn't suffer from any back-of-the-jeans staining issues
But due to current restrictions I mostly wore them at home or on short walks to the shops and the park near my house. I'm not sure I'd want to wear them for a full day in the workplace without replacing them, even if I was confident they wouldn't leak.
There is a very slight 'rustling' sound that can be heard when you apply pressure to the inner core – similar to the sound that you might hear while wearing a pad, which, as a tampon user, was not particularly welcome. And although the underwear were mostly odour-free, they weren't entirely.
Are they convenient?
Before I trialled them, I assumed convenience would be these underwear's biggest selling point. No more having to worry about tampons or pads! Just throw on a pair of undies and go.
In reality, carrying around a few tampons at the bottom of your handbag isn't a massive burden. Whereas carrying an extra pair of period underwear around with you in case you need to change them during the day, not to mention toting a used pair around with you, is neither convenient nor particularly glamorous.
Then there's the washing factor. Unlike your ordinary knickers, you can't exactly throw a used pair of period undies into your wash basket with the rest of the family's dirty clothes and leave them sitting there until you do a load in three days' time. Which means you have to put them through the wash every single day of your period (or hand wash or soak them in a bucket), which you might not feel like doing at the end of the day.
Would I recommend them?
Overall yes, with a few caveats. If you don't like the idea of putting foreign bodies such as tampons into your body, you're concerned about the environmental impact of disposable menstrual products, and you don't mind dealing with a more rigorous washing schedule, then these underwear are worth trying out.
But the level of protection they offer will vary from woman to woman, and may take a bit of trial and error – with the back-up of a few tampons or pads in the handbag – before you know whether they work for you.