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If you're tired of relying on pads and tampons during your period—and even more tired of leaks and discomfort—it's time to consider a new option to get you through that time of the month. Enter: Period underwear. Also known as period panties, they're an easy way to abandon sanitary napkins entirely—and they actually work.
Designed for every type of flow, these panties boast special fabrics layered in a way to absorb liquids, control odors, and dry quickly so you feel comfortable all period long. They're cost-effective too; once you’re done with a pair, simply rinse them off in the sink, launder them in cold water, and hang them to dry so they’re ready to go for next month.
Obviously, avoiding leaks is key, so pick a pair with a high absorbency. You'll also want to ensure the panties fit you properly and aren't overly bulky to guarantee your comfort day and night.
Here are our picks of the best period underwear for light days, heavy days, and everything in between.
Best Overall: Thinx Air Hiphugger
Material: Polyamide, elastane, cotton, PUL | Absorbency: Light | Colors: Black | Size Range: XXS-3XL
These hiphuggers are one of Thinx’s bestsellers for good reason—well, for many good reasons, actually. They hold a lot of blood—up to one and a half tampons’ worth—making them ideal for medium days. Available in black and blue colors, they’re made with a blend of breathable materials including cotton, elastane, and micromesh so they feel cool and dry.
They also contain non-migratory silver, which controls odor. And, they’re so lightweight it feels like you’re not wearing anything at all—unlike some bulky pads out there. Best of all, Air Hiphugger is available in a huge range of sizes, from XXS to 3XL, so finding your perfect fit is easy.
Best for Heavy Flow: Thinx Super Hiphugger
Material: Nylon, elastane, polyester, PUL | Absorbency: Super | Colors: Black, fig, dusk | Size Range: XXS-3XL
These are Thinx’s all-time bestselling period panties, and they’re designed specifically for your heaviest flow. They hold up to a whopping four tampons’ worth of blood, making them the most absorbent option Thinx offers. The hip-hugging design completely covers your bottom, while the extra-absorbent fabric ensures you won’t experience any leaks.
They’re a great pick for overnight protection or any time you need extra coverage. Plus, the chic black color and geometric pattern at the top mean you’ll be protecting yourself in a whole lot of style.
Best for Working Out: Modibodi Active Brief – Light-Moderate Absorbency
Material: Merino wool, spandex, polyester, polyamide | Absorbency: Light to moderate | Colors: Black | Size Range: XS-2XL
Have you been thinking about canceling that indoor cycling class or strength training sesh now that your period is here? You might want to reconsider. This period underwear is made for gym time. Not only does it protect you from sweat, but it also absorbs up to two teaspoons (or two tampons) of liquid.
Customers rave that these panties, which come in black, provide full coverage without looking baggy, are breathable and lightweight, and prevent leaks even during intense workouts.
Best Thong: Knix Leakproof Thong
Material: Spandex, polyester, seaweed fiber, modal | Absorbency: Light-medium, and high-super | Colors: Various | Size Range: XS-4XL
Gone are the days of ditching thongs during your period. Knix makes it possible with its leakproof design, available in beige, black, and a limited edition purple. The triple-layer technology absorbs up to a teaspoon of blood—about a tampon’s worth—making this thong a great option for your lightest days (or as a backup on heavier days).
The mid-rise cut provides minimal coverage, while the built-in liner is very thin, so you won’t even notice it. Bonus: This thong is seamless, so they’re completely undetectable under leggings. So whether you’ve got a workout planned or you just wanna chill out in cozy clothes, you don’t have to think about a visible panty line.
Best Boyshorts: Anigan Period Panty
Material: Nylon, cotton, spandex | Absorbency: Medium-high | Colors: Pattern | Size Range: XS-XL
Most period underwear comes in solid colors, but for days when you want to mix it up and have a little fun, turn your attention to these eye-catching tie-dyed white and black boyshorts. They’re made with a high-quality fiber plus spandex to feel unbelievably soft and wick away moisture so you stay cool and dry.
These boyshorts also have an inner lining that goes from the center to the back. The lining is made out of a moisture-resistant polymer to provide protection from leaks. They’re also hypoallergenic, so you won’t experience any irritation, and seamless, so they’re undetectable underneath your clothes.
Best Budget: Bambody Period Panties
Material: Bamboo | Absorbency: Medium-high | Colors: Black | Size Range: XXS-2XL
Period panties can get pretty pricey, but you don’t necessarily have to shell out major money to buy a pair that really works. This menstrual underwear gets the job done for less than the cost of lunch. The bamboo fabric wicks away moisture so you don’t have to worry about being all sweaty down there, and the leak-proof layer goes all the way from the front to the back of the underwear.
Best Cotton: Hesta Organic Cotton Period Panties
Material: Cotton, spandex | Absorbency: Medium-high | Colors: Black, grey, nude | Size Range: XS-4XL
The key to feeling your best when you have your period is making sure you’re as comfortable as you possibly can be. And that means choosing clothes—including undergarments—made from non-irritating fabrics. These period underwear are made of organic cotton, one of the softest fabrics you can wear. Organic cotton is also hypoallergenic, making it a good pick for anyone with sensitive skin.
These period panties provide full coverage on the front, sides, and back, so there’s no chance of leaks. They come in packs of three, making this a value choice.
Best Briefs: Lunapads MAIA Brief
Material: Cotton, spandex, polyester | Absorbency: Super | Colors: Black, blue, goldenrod, green, rust | Size Range: XS-5XL
These briefs are anything but basic. The cotton-spandex blend is super-soft, while the elasticized leg openings prevent the underwear from shifting around or riding up. The briefs sit high, with full coverage for your sides and derriere. They even come with a removal reusable insert you can use for added period protection during heavy days or while you snooze.
Best Cheeky: Thinx Cheeky
Material: Nylon, elastane, cotton, PUL | Absorbency: Light | Colors: Black, fig, dusk, beige, chroma | Size Range: XXS-3XL
For those lighter flow days when you want to feel cute but still need some period protection, check out this playful cheeky pair. They hold up to one tampons’ worth of flow with a minimal design that just feels sexy. Thinx’s blend of fabrics protects against leaks, moisture, and odors while maintaining comfort.
Best Overnight: Ruby Love Period Loungewear Sleep Boyshort
Material: Cotton, spandex, mesh | Absorbency: High-super | Colors: Black | Size Range: Juniors-3XL
Leaks often happen while you sleep—but you can nix them with these full-coverage boyshorts. Not only are these black boyshorts seriously cute, but they’re also 100% leak-proof so you can hit the hay without stressing over whether you’ll have to deal with stains in the morning.
They feature a built-in organic cotton liner that absorbs your flow and blocks odor as well as a dri-tech mesh that puts an end to front, side, and back leaks. You can add a pad, which will be securely locked into place, for extra protection if needed.
Best for Swim: Ruby Love Period Swimwear Classic
Material: Nylon, Cotton, spandex, mesh | Absorbency: Super | Colors: Black | Size Range: Juniors-3XL
Taking a dip in a pool or the ocean while you’re menstruating may not sound like the most enjoyable experience, but these swim bottoms make swimming on your period a whole lot more palatable. They hold up to three tampons’ worth of blood, and the built-in liner absorbs liquids and can be used with or without added protection. The black hue is versatile—it pairs nicely with just about any bikini top.
When it comes to the very best in period underwear, our top choice would have to be the Thinx Air Hiphugger. They hold up to one and a half tampons’ with of blood, contain non-migratory silver to control odor, and have a super comfortable, non-bulky fit. No wonder they’re the brand’s bestselling style. Getting ourselves to work out during that time of the month is hard enough, which is why we appreciate the ModiBodi Active Brief. They’ll keep you protected from leaks during even the most intense workouts while absorbing sweat and up to two tampons’ worth of blood. Finally, we’re looking to the Knix Leakproof Thong for lighter days when we don’t want visible panty lines. The super thin liner offers a barely-there feel, but it’ll still protect you by absorbing up to one tampon’s worth of blood.
What to Look For in Period Underwear
We all know that leaks can happen, but, of course, we want to avoid them at all costs. When it comes to shopping for period underwear, look for brands that offer high absorbency, especially if your flow is on the heavier side. Don't forget to read through customer reviews to make sure these products live up to their claims, too.
A Good Fit
When it comes to avoiding leakage—especially while you sleep or work out—a good fit is key. Look for products that provide curve-hugging styles and higher waistlines, that way you know your underwear will fit you comfortably but also won’t budge throughout the day or night.
A Comfortable, Non-Bulky Design
The whole point of period underwear is to eliminate the need for pads and tampons, and the last thing anybody wants is to have the ability to free bleed but feel like they’re wearing a diaper. Look for styles that specifically designed to offer great absorbency, even on your heavier days, without feeling bulky or stiff.
How does period underwear work?
According to Kristy Chong, the founder and CEO of period and leak-proof underwear brand Modibodi, how your period underwear works will vary from brand to brand. "Made with different materials and technology, the purpose of period underwear is to absorb, protect, and allow you to continue your daily activities without feeling discouraged or shamed,” she says. Many different ranges of period underwear now exist. You can now find various designs to cater to your cycle, pregnancy, and postpartum needs—there are even styles designed to protect you at the gym.
How do you wash period underwear?
Chong says that most, if not all, period underwear products are machine washable, which makes cleaning them a breeze. However, to ensure they last you, she shares her tips for taking the best care of them: “It’s recommended that period underwear be rinsed out first, washed on a cold, gentle cycle without softener, and hung up to dry.”
How long can you wear period underwear?
How long you can wear your period underwear depends on your flow as well as the absorbency level of the pair you're wearing, explains Chong. “The higher in absorbency, the more the period underwear can hold. Some can be used all day depending on the brand’s range.” Impressive!
Can you wear period underwear with a heavy flow?
According to Chong, yes, you can wear period underwear with a heavy flow; just be sure to wear a pair designed with heavy absorbency. Most brands carry different styles in a range of absorbency levels designed to protect you comfortably from your lightest to your heaviest. For example, Modibodi’s Maxi-24Hrs styles are designed to hold up to ten tampons worth of fluid (!), which means they could definitely keep you leak-free through one of your heavier days.
Can you swim in period underwear?
In general, it’s not advised to swim in your period underwear since it will absorb the water rather than blood and, depending on which brand you’re wearing, pool or saltwater can affect the fabric and fibers used. However, some brands have launched period and leak-proof swimwear, including Modibodi and the above-mentioned Ruby Love, which not only absorb blood but keep water out.
Meet the Expert
Kristy Chong is the founder and CEO of period and leak-proof underwear brand Modibodi.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough period underwear from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.