Menstruation Methods: Cups vs Discs vs Underwear, Oh My!

  I am not ashamed of my period. It is a miracle happening within my body that allows me to literally create life. But that doesn’t change t...


I am not ashamed of my period. It is a miracle happening within my body that allows me to literally create life. But that doesn’t change the fact that it sucks. In fact, it kind of ruins my life pretty regularly.

My period is ridiculously irregular. It’s a surprise every time it arrives. And arrive it does. I typically bleed enough that a super tampon needs to be changed every two hours, so that’s never fun. And at times, the cramps are absolutely debilitating. And sometimes I only have it every two or three months. It’s a whole mess, and before you try to doctor me, know that I have talked to my OB/GYN about my concerns, and

Though my period has always been heavy, it’s gotten quite a bit worse since I received my COVID vaccine. And when the pandemic was in its peak, there were limits on how many pads you could buy at the store.

So I started trying other methods that are reusable - better for the earth and limits those feminine product runs that happen when it’s that “holy shit I started and I’m out of pads” moment.

Over the past year, I’ve bought period panties from at least three different brands, I’ve tried a disc option and a cup option. And I’ll rate them here for you.

Period Panties

I've tried menstruation underwear that cost anywhere from $10 to $50, and what I've found out is that you get what you pay for. 

The Period Company is the brand I've found to be the most affordable. I opted for the high waisted cotton panties in a variety of colors, since they are only $12 a pop. They fit comfortably like my favorite pair of granny panties, but after wearing and washing once, I've noticed the seams at the waist and leg holes are already beginning to unravel a bit. And the gusset of the underwear is incredibly thick. It's like an ultra thick heavy duty pad, but as part of the underwear. They're absorbent, but the gusset is shorter than I'd like and I actually bled through my pants because of the short absorbency area. I'll continue to wear these underwear, but I wouldn't buy them again, and I'll need to be more proactive in checking for leaks throughout the day.

Verdict? You get what you pay for. $12 is cheaper than the cost of two packs of pads, and will last longer and be much more sustainable than disposable period products. But it definitely feels like you're wearing a pad, or maybe even a diaper. 

There are two other brands I've tried that are definitely a higher quality and feel more like "regular" panties.

Aisle is by far my favorite in terms of comfort, sizing, and inclusivity. I typically wear an 18 or 20 in most brands. For underwear, I usually wear a 2X but lots of times I have to opt for a 3X. Aisle definitely is true to size. I ordered a 3X and they are quite a bit too large. I still wear them and they're effective, but they don't fit well enough to really wear out and about under clothes. They're perfect for wearing around the house and for bed. I loved them so much still, so I bought a few other pair in 2X and they fit to perfection. The gusset in Aisle underwear is so thin, but incredibly absorbent. The larger sizes come with an extra booster strip that can be inserted into the underwear to hold several more tampons worth of blood. Another thing I love about Aisle is that they offer inclusive styles and sizes. They have briefs, thongs, hipsters, boxer briefs, slip shorts and more. They even have reusable pads and cups. Their underwear come in sizes XS to 5X, and each pair can replace up to 90 disposable pads. The only "con" is that their underwear are all pretty basic in style - just cotton and single color. I actually really like that they're pretty generic, since that's what I typically wear any way. Get $10 off your first Aisle purchase here.

Verdict? Yes, yes, yes. These are the perfect period panty. They're comfortable, they fit like non-period panties, and they're incredibly size and gender inclusive. If you prefer a larger variety of styles and designs, this one may not be the best option for you.

Thinx is best option I've tried if you're looking for variety of styles that look like lingerie. the first period underwear I ever heard of and the first I ever tried, and they're an incredible option if you want a lot of cute period underwear or apparel. They have incredibly cute styles and plenty of them to choose from. When I initially purchased from Thinx, their sizes were limited and fit too small. But they've recently expanded their size options and have XXS to 4X, plus alternative brands like Speax for bladder leaks and Thinx (BTWN) for teens. Their sizes are now true-to-size (I'm in a 2X)And Thinx options expand beyond the multitude of underwear styles they offer. They also offer sleep shorts, leggings and cycle shorts, training shorts, and leotards. Shop through this link to get $10 off of your first Thinx purchase.

Verdict? These are the best if you want more than just plain old period panties. These fit like regular underwear and feel comfortable and sexy. But they also offer other apparel other than just underwear. Their sizes are less inclusive than Aisle, but still inclusive up to size 4X. Biggest issue - just make sure you pay attention to the absorbency markers on the website when ordering because those are pretty accurate.

Menstrual Cup

Let me start by sharing that the cup I tried is one that is virtually always on sale for $6, which is hands down the most affordable menstrual cup I've ever come across. I don't know how it compares to other cups. I found that the first few times I used it, the cup was fairly easy to insert. But I noticed as I've used it, I've had a more difficult time getting it to pop back out into an open cup once inserted. So it's been a challenge. I've not been an avid tampon user my entire life, so I do get nervous about the cup. But as long as it's inserted well, I haven't had major issues with it. It holds a good bit of flow, but I often have to take it out and empty it whenever I use the bathroom because I do feel like I'm going to push it out when I go to the bathroom. 

Menstrual Disc

I had high, high hopes for the menstrual disc. It's much smaller than a cup and allows the wearer to have sex with no mess. But I've actually found the disc to be much messier than other reusable period options. It supposedly empties itself when you sit down to use the bathroom, but trying to take it out and empty it will leave a bloody mess. You definitely want to be standing over the toilet to even remove the disc, or be somewhere you can clean up to pull it out for emptying. 

For me, the period panties have been a blessing. They make the most sense for my lifestyle and my comfort level. But I think it really depends on what you like. I think the June cup (mentioned above) makes great sense to try if you're interested in trying out the cup at all because it's inexpensive and effective. But I didn't find the disc to make much sense for me at all. It was messy and difficult to deal with. Ultimately, to each his own, but hopefully this gives you a better idea of some reusable menstrual products to choose from.

Have you tried out reusable products? Which of these would you like to try?

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