Sanitary wear: it’s a subject yet to grace the pages of TTT.
As a travel blogger, I’ll be the first to admit that my period hasn’t exactly been front of mind when writing about adventures new. Caught up in heady descriptions of St Lucia’s canopied hills or Finland’s inky lakes, a frank evaluation of how my Always Maxi Pad held out during an eight hour flight seems a detail that most are happy for me to exclude.
There aren’t many attractive adjectives you can attach to a sanitary towel.
Yet, as a woman – and as a travel blogger – these products are an inescapable part of my adventures. I’ve walked towards airplane toilets with tampons artfully hidden up my sleeve (never forget that you’ve stored them there – they tend to sidle their way out at passport control). I’ve wrestled with a sanitary towel inside a toilet in the Moroccan mountains. I’ve bought sanitary pads in a Swedish supermarket, before later realising they were bladder control towels (interestingly, slightly more absorbent than your standard period pad).
Whether I like it or not, my period – and the products that come with it – are regularly part and parcel of my travels.
Over the last few years, I’ve also felt an increasing guilt each time I dispose of these notoriously unsustainable products. Indeed, having read that the average woman will use 11,000 tampons in her lifetime – with each taking a matter of centuries, rather than years, to degrade – I’ve begun to wonder if there’s an alternative to the trusty tampon or sanitary towel.
Similar product review: Dame Reusable Tampon Applicator
Stuck in a sanitary wear rut (a little like a fashion rut, but only slightly less glamorous), it was a few months later when I spotted an advert for Wuka Period Pants. Initially, I thought they’d finally given a name to the giant, cotton pants that I’d pull from my drawer each month, before realising these were something else entirely.
Claiming to ‘revolutionise’ periods, these magic pants were their very own form of sanitary wear: the love child of a hygienic, ultra-absorbent sanitary towel and a pair of extra comfortable knickers. Each month, all you had to do was put the pants on and et voilà, you were protected.
I was intrigued. How could a pair of knickers protect me? Surely they’d leak? Stain? They must be incredibly bulky due to the added weight of that built in pad – a little like wearing an adult-sized nappy.
Eventually, and after much deliberation, I decided to bite the bullet and find out for myself; the pants arriving on my doormat just a few days later.
Wuka Period Pants come with a price tag of £29.99 – a cost I initially thought was a little steep. Compared to a box of tampons, or a single pair of knickers, these were some expensive undergarments. Furthermore, if you’re unlikely to be madly washing your pants each night (although it does offer an excellent alternative to the ‘I’m washing my hair’ excuse), it’s evident you’re going to require more than one pair.
However, having investigated the anticipated lifespan of the pants, their price seemed much more reasonable. It’s expected that each pair of Wuka Period Pants will last two years: equalling a monthly cost of £1.24. That’s considerably less than your monthly mega haul of costly tampons and pads. Indeed, Wuka claim that most women will save approximately £500 over the course of those two years; enough to warrant a European city break.
Although the Period Pants undoubtedly demand an initial investment, if you are serious about wanting to change your approach to sanitary wear, then ultimately I believe they offer great value for money. Furthermore, if you do buy them and don’t get on with them, then you have forty days to return them.
Examining the soft, black hip-huggers that had arrived in the post, my first thought concerned how on earth these discrete looking pants were going to do their job. They looked like a pair of Calvin Klein pants.
However, looks can be deceiving.
Wuka claim that their Period Pants can hold almost 200 times their weight in liquid, or the equivalent of four tampons worth of menstrual blood. For frequent travellers stuck on long flights or train journeys, this is surely a game changer – meaning that on most days, you needn’t change the pants for eleven hours.
But, I hear you ask, where does all that liquid go?
The pants themselves are surprisingly thin and made up of four layers. The outside layers are made from breathable Lenzing MicroModal fabric (incredibly soft and moisture wicking), whilst the innermost layer (with anti-bacterial properties) contains a leak-proof pad, which is reusable and washable. Beneath this is another ‘leak proof’ layer, which is equally as breathable and gives a second line of protection.
When combined together, the pants form the Fort Knox of the sanitary world: immediately absorbing and locking in any liquid.
I’ve never waited for my period with as much anticipation as I did this month; my Wuka Period Pants ready and waiting.
I decided to ‘trial’ them on the early days of my period, when things tend to be a little lighter. Putting them on I was struck by just how comfortable they were; as comfortable as my beloved M&S knickers. Hip-hugging and similar to mini boxer shorts, the pants are designed to flex in four different ways, meaning there’s no uncomfortable digging sensation around the waist or nasty indentation.
Putting them on and I felt immediately safe, secure and oddly warm. It was like donning a giant hug.
A bottom hug.
Furthermore, and unlike traditional sanitary towels, there is no sense that the absorbent pad is shifting at all; one of my biggest bugbears when it comes pads. Boasting a ‘very big gusset’ (never a more alluring phrase said), I felt well-protected at both front and back, without having to worry about potential leakages.
I also noticed that as the pad is built into the pants, I was protected from the often skin-irritating effects of the sanitary towel. As someone who finds these traditional pads very uncomfortable, the Wuka Period Pants’ soft, seamless texture came as a welcome relief.
Lastly, and despite my fears that the knickers might appear bulky and ‘rustle’ a little when I moved, I found them to be anything but. In fact, I wore them beneath skinny jeans and they sat flush to my skin, with no indication that I was wearing anything other than normal underwear.
They were also entirely silent: stealth-like sanitary wear as its very best.
The million-dollar question: despite being comfortable, stylish, cost-effective and sustainable, do Wuka Period Pants really work?
I’ll admit: I was nervous when leaving the house for the first time with just my Period Pants for protection. Wearing a floaty skirt, I was worried about leakages and the sort of embarrassing accidents I had as a teenager. I was also a little apprehensive about how they would feel.
One thing that often deters me from sanitary towels is the uncomfortable ‘damp’ feeling you have to endure, which seems to only worsen. I’d assumed that the Wuka Period Pants would offer a similarly delightful sensation and braced myself for a ‘nappy’ experience. However, the pants’ material is so ultra absorbent that any liquid was quickly absorbed and ‘locked in’, meaning that I barely noticed my period at all.
I genuinely felt comfortable, dry and firmly ensconced inside my soft Wuka Pants all day.
I also wondered how I’d know when the pants became ‘full’ – maxed out, incapacitated. With sanitary pads, it’s visibly obvious when it’s time to change, and with tampons, you have a fairly intuitive sense. However, given that the Wuka Period Pants are black, with the pad built in, how would I know when they were going to bail on me?
Throughout the day, and despite presumably absorbing more liquid, the pants showed no hint that they were working hard behind the scenes. In fact, after eight hours, they felt just as they had when I first put them on – dry, light and comfortable.
I imagine on a ‘heavier’ day, I might have a greater sense of when I might need to change them. However, on my lighter flow, I’m confident that I could wear them all day and not feel any change. For flying or long journeys this is a real plus, and means I can simply get up, put my pants on and go.
It’s a liberating thought.
When examining the Wuka Period Pants, one thought immediately came to mind: how do you wash them? I entertained fairly horrifying scenes of having to wring them out over the kitchen sink, or soaking them overnight in the downstairs toilet; praying my boyfriend didn’t walk in.
The reality is a little more prosaic: you simply pop them in the washing machine. Initially, I washed mine alone at 30 degrees: my Wuka Period Pants enjoying their very own spin cycle. I then got a little braver; including them in a wash with my other dark colours. My boyfriend recoiled when I told him what I’d done, staring in horror at the churning washing machine, as though it were a scene from ‘Jaws’.
However, he shouldn’t have worried. Blood is very easy to wash out and if you have a lighter flow, it’s quickly removed from the pants.
A quick note: do not use fabric conditioner with the pants, as it can interact with the carefully designed materials. Also, avoid the tumble dyer. My Wuka Period Pants were instead hung on the washing line outside for all to see – taking just over two hours to fully dry.
I shan’t leave you in suspense – this has been a surprisingly long read for a blog post dedicated entirely to sanitary wear. My answer would be: yes, absolutely.
There are many reasons why I would happily beat the drum for Wuka Period Pants, but the persuading factor is perhaps simply ease of use. Particularly on the lighter days of my period, it can be uncomfortable and time-consuming to keep changing products. Often warned about the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, I’m also a little paranoid about wearing tampons for too long, whilst wearing a sanitary towel irritates my skin.
The pants therefore offer an ideal alternative. I can put them on in the morning and go about my day without having to worry about that sneaky bathroom visit. I can also see myself wearing them overnight, or on long haul flights, knowing that I’ll stay dry and clean for at least eight hours. These pants really are fantastic and are a noticeably more comfortable alternative to tampons or pads.
Of course, the pants have their limitations. Swimming is perhaps out of bounds and on those heavier days of my period, I might combine the pants with a tampon: perhaps relying on the pants alone during the evening or overnight. Additionally, if I wanted to use them for the full week of my period, I’d need to invest in more than one pair.
However, I don’t think these reasons should detract from just how brilliantly effective Wuka Period Pants are. The solution to so many of our sanitary wear woes, these pants are perhaps the best thing about having a period.
As a woman, I’m not sure you can say better than that.