Period Underwear vs. Tampons & Pads: A Comprehensive Guide

Two women wearing seamless period underwear and white vests, showcasing leakproof confidence and period comfort.

Let's face it, periods are a normal part of life for many of us. But choosing the right period product? Not always a walk in the park. This guide dives into the world of period pants (aka period underwear), tampons, and pads, helping you pick the perfect match for your flow and lifestyle. So get comfortable – it's time to ditch the period product confusion!

Period Underwear: How They Work

Period underwear, also known as menstrual underwear or period pants, is a game-changer for many people. They are just like regular underwear but come with built-in absorbent layers to manage your period flow effectively. With period underwear, you can enjoy confidence without worrying about leaks or stress.

Period pants have multiple layers designed to wick moisture away from your skin, absorb menstrual flow, and prevent leaks. The outer layer is designed to feel just as comfortable as your favourite everyday underwear.

Pros of Period Underwear:

Leakproof Confidence: 

Forget about worrying over leaks or stains on your clothes or furniture. Period pants have innovative layers designed for your peace of mind – one layer wicks away moisture to keep you feeling fresh, another absorbs your flow, and a leak-proof barrier ensures nothing escapes. Relax and enjoy your period, worry-free. 

Comfortable and Discreet: 

Period pants are designed to feel just like regular underwear, offering a comfortable and discreet period experience unlike pads or tampons, which can sometimes feel uncomfortable. According to a study published in the Journal of Women's Health found that a majority of participants (87.7%) felt comfortable and secure while wearing period underwear.

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly: 

Period pants are reusable, which means way less waste compared to tampons and pads. It's a win for the planet and your wallet in the long run. A study by The NPD Group even highlights the growing popularity of period underwear amongst environmentally conscious consumers.


Many period pants have built-in odour-fighting technology. This keeps you feeling fresh and confident all cycle long.

Great for Active Lifestyles: 

Period pants are ideal for active lifestyles. Unlike tampons, which can be uncomfortable during exercise, period pants provide leakproof protection without restricting movement. Whether you're at the gym, swimming, or working out, period pants allow you to stay active with confidence. 

Easy for Beginners: 

No need to worry about tricky insertion or removal. Period pants are a great option for beginners or anyone with medical conditions that make tampons difficult to use.

Cons of Period Underwear:

Upfront Cost: 

Period pants have a higher initial cost compared to disposable products. But remember, they're reusable, so they can actually be more cost-effective in the long run.

Washing and Care: 

Period pants need washing after each use. Our period underwear can be machine-washed, but other brands might be hand-wash only.

May Not Suit Heavy Flows: 

Our period pants come in different absorbencies, and can absorb up to 5 tampons worth, but some other brands might not be suitable for all flow types, especially very heavy periods.

May Be Slightly Bulkier: 

Depending on the brand and absorbency, period pants might feel slightly bulkier than regular underwear.

Tampons: Tried and Trusted

Tampons have been around for ages as a reliable period product. They are inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood internally.

Pros of Tampons

Discreet and Comfortable:

Once you get the hang of it, tampons can provide a comfortable and discreet way to manage menstruation. They are worn internally, which means no visible pads and less awareness of wearing them.

Ideal for Swimming and Sports:

Tampons are popular among women who lead active lives. They are suitable for swimming, sports, and other physical activities, as they stay securely in place and do not stop movement. 

Many Absorbency Options:

Tampons are available in different absorbencies, ranging from light to super tampons, to cater to different flow levels. This allows women to choose the right option for their needs, offering reliable protection throughout the day.

Cons of Tampons:

Learning Curve:

Inserting and positioning a tampon correctly can be difficult for some people. It requires practice to find a comfortable method and proper placement.

Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS):

Although it is rare, tampon use can lead to TSS, especially if left in for too long. This serious condition is linked to bacterial toxins and requires immediate medical attention if symptoms like high fever, vomiting, or rash occur.

Can Cause Drying and Irritation:

Tampons may absorb natural vaginal moisture, which can lead to dryness or irritation, especially if they are left in for too long or are too absorbent. 

Environmental Impact:

Tampons, especially those with plastic applicators, create a lot of waste. Unlike reusable period underwear, which can be washed and reused for years, tampons are thrown away after just one use. A lifecycle assessment study published in the National Library of Medicine journal shows that tampons have a much bigger environmental footprint compared to reusable options.

Pads: The Classic Pick

Pads are a tried-and-tested option for managing menstrual flow, sticking to your underwear to absorb blood externally.

Pros of Pads:

Easy to Use:

You don't need to insert pads, making them straightforward for girls and women of all ages. Simply peel off the adhesive backing and stick them onto your underwear.

Easily Available:

Whether you're at the supermarket, pharmacy, or corner shop, pads are widely stocked and easily accessible. This means you can easily restock whenever needed without hassle.

Lots of Options:

Pads come in different sizes and absorbencies, from ultra-thin liners for light flow days to thicker, more absorbent ones for heavier days. This variety lets you pick the products that best suit your flow and comfort needs. 

Cons of Pads:

Can Feel Bulky:

On days when your flow is heavier, thicker pads can feel bulky and noticeable. This might affect your comfort, especially if you're used to more discreet options like tampons or menstrual cups.

Risk of Leaks:

When you're doing sports or exercising, pads can move around and bunch up. This can make you feel uncomfortable, irritated, and sometimes lead to leaks. 

Not Ideal for Active Days:

During physical activities like sports or exercise, pads can shift and bunch up. This can cause discomfort, irritation, and leaks.

Environmental Impact:

Disposable pads create a lot of landfill waste because they're only used once. Every pad, along with its packaging, adds to the environmental impact of getting rid of menstrual products.

Finding Your Perfect Period Match

Flow Strength: 

Understanding your flow is important when picking the right period product. If your flow is heavier, you’ll want something that offers reliable absorbency without the worry of leaks. High-absorbency period underwear can be a game-changer here, giving you all-day protection without the bulkiness of pads or the insertion process of tampons. They're made to handle heavier flows comfortably, so you can feel confident all day long.


Your lifestyle is key to choosing which period product suits you best. If you're into keeping active – like hitting the gym, going for a run, or playing sports — period underwear or tampons are usually more convenient. Period underwear, especially those designed for active wear, give you flexibility and freedom to move without worrying about leaks. 


When picking a period product, comfort should be your top priority. Period underwear is made to feel just like your regular underwear, focusing on giving you a comfortable and smooth experience. It gets rid of the discomfort some people feel with tampons or the bulky feeling of pads. Choosing what feels most natural and comfy for your body can really change how you feel during your period.

It’s all about finding what suits you best. Period underwear is a modern choice that blends comfort, reliability, and eco-friendliness, making it a great option for lots of people. Whether you have a heavy flow, love being active, or simply want comfort, there’s a perfect type of period underwear out there to make your period days easier and more comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does period underwear compare to tampons and pads in terms of comfort?

Period underwear is known for being really comfortable, just like regular underwear. Unlike tampons and pads, they don't feel bulky or cause discomfort, making them a great choice for those wanting a more seamless experience.

Which is more environmentally friendly: period underwear, tampons, or pads?

Period underwear is seen as more environmentally friendly than tampons and pads because you can wash and reuse them, reducing the amount of single-use plastic and waste that ends up in landfills. This makes them a better option for the planet. 

How does period underwear work?

Period underwear has several layers that work together to keep you leak-free. The top layer pulls moisture away from your skin to keep you dry. An absorbent core soaks up your menstrual flow, and a leak-resistant barrier ensures nothing leaks through to your clothes.

Are there differences in absorbency between period underwear, tampons, and pads?

Period underwear typically offers the same absorbency levels to pads, with some high-absorbency options suitable for heavy flows. Tampons can vary widely in absorbency and are designed for internal use.

Can you wear period underwear with tampons or menstrual cups?

Absolutely! Many women use period underwear alongside tampons or menstrual cups for extra protection against leaks, especially on heavy flow days or overnight.

Which option is better for active lifestyles: period underwear, tampons, or pads?

Period underwear and tampons are usually preferred for active lifestyles due to their leakproof design and ability to stay in place during physical activities. Pads may not be as secure during lively movement.

Are there any health considerations when choosing between period underwear, tampons, and pads?

Period underwear and pads are external products, which means they reduce the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) that can happen with tampons. Tampons are safe when used correctly, but it's important to change them regularly to lower the risk of TSS.

Are period underwear suitable for heavy flows?

Yes, there are period underwear options specifically designed for heavy flows. These usually have higher absorbency levels and provide reliable protection throughout the day or night.

How many pairs of period underwear do I need?

It depends on how heavy your flow is and how often you want to wash them. Some people find 3-5 pairs enough for one cycle, while others prefer having more for convenience. Having a mix of absorbencies can also be helpful for different days of your cycle.

Are there different styles of period underwear available?

Yes, period underwear comes in various styles, including briefs, boyshorts, and even thongs. There are also options with different levels of absorbency to suit different preferences and flow strengths.