Period pants are washable and reusable absorbent pants that can be used instead of, or alongside, disposable products such as sanitary towels or tampons.
They're becoming an increasingly popular option and, while reducing plastic waste is often a catalyst for making the switch, they can also be more practical and comfortable for some people.
There are now quite a few options available, with many styles and absorbency levels to choose from, at a wide range of prices.
As an upfront cost, they are typically more expensive than disposable alternatives. The cheapest are £6 a pair (Primark), but some cost up to £35, and you'll typically need multiple pairs to last you through a period.
We've surveyed users of period pants to find out what they liked and disliked, and how they rated the brands they'd used on factors such as leak protection, comfort and value for money.
Discover how popular brands including Intimawear by Bodyform, M&S, Modibodi, Primark and Wuka fared, and use our unique insights to help you choose the best option for you.
We asked 563 people who had used period pants in the past two years to tell us their views on the brand (or brands) they used, focusing on aspects such as comfort, durability, appearance, value for money and protection from leaks.
The most popularly owned brands were the high street offerings from Primark and M&S, but they weren't necessarily the best rated.
Logged-in members can see the full results below (listed in alphabetical order), including the brands that users loved the most.
Style: hipster briefs Sizes: UK 6-22 Max absorbency: five tampons Max use: about two years Cost: £25 each.
Flo makes organic tampons and pads, and has released a small collection of period pants in partnership with Netflix to promote the show Sex Education.
They come in pink and black and are made from cotton that Flo says is sustainably sourced and biodegradable.
Style: hipster and bikini briefs Sizes: UK 8-20 Absorbency: one sanitary pad Max use: more than 50 washes Cost: £25 each.
Intimawear is the first reusable offering from Bodyform – a stalwart of the disposable pad world. There are two styles of pants, hipster and bikini, and its products are made from a mix of polyamide, elastane, polyurethane and polyester.
Style: full, midi, bikini, teen and bamboo briefs Sizes: UK 8-24 Absorbency: light (2-3 tampons) to heavy (3-4 tampons) Max use: 9-12 months Cost: £10-£14 each.
Love Luna positions itself as the budget-friendly period pants company. Its range of pants come in multiple styles and levels of absorbency, and are made of a cotton/nylon/polyester/elastane mix or a bamboo/polyester/elastane mix.
Love Luna estimates you'd need about 7-10 pairs if you use them exclusively over your period, or 3-5 pairs if you're using them as a backup.
Style: bikini, high leg and full briefs Sizes: UK 6-28 Absorbency: light and high absorbency Max use: not stated Cost: £12 each.
Lots of people seem to be trying Marks & Spencer's period underwear – it was the second most common brand in our survey, after Primark.
Marks & Spencer's period undies come in a range of styles and with two absorbency options. There's a cotton option and a polyamide option, both with a polyester gusset.
Style: nine women's styles, maternity/post-partum, teen and swimwear Sizes: UK 6-18 Absorbency: six absorbency levels, from leak-proof (a panty-liner) to maxi/24 hours (10 tampons). The moderate-heavy absorbency holds up to 2-3 tampons Max use: two years or longer Cost: £14-£36 each.
Modibodi was one of the first companies to sell period-proof underwear, and has one of the largest ranges.
There are biodegradable and recycled options, and the classic range which is bamboo viscose and spandex with a merino wool gusset.
Style: 19 styles, from bikini to boxer brief and swimwear Sizes: XS-3XL Absorbency: five levels from light to overnight flow Max use: approx two years/60 washes Cost: £18 - £34 each.
Pantys, a Brazilian brand recently launched in the UK, has a range of period pants in different styles and absorbencies, and a dedicated range for teens.
It says that it uses biodegradable fabrics.
Style: high-waisted midi, hipster and mini briefs Sizes: UK 4-24 Absorbency: light to medium (about three regular tampons) and medium to heavy (about four regular tampons) Max use: Primark told us that they would last as long as regular underwear Cost: £6-£16 each.
Primark's foray into period underwear confirms that the product has gone mainstream, and it was the most commonly used brand in our survey.
Primark's affordable pants are made from a mix of cotton and polyester, and come in a range of sizes.
Available in-store at Primark
Style: many styles including midi briefs, bikini, boxers, high-waist and thongs Sizes: XXS-6XL Absorbency: four levels, from light (about one regular tampon) to super heavy (12 regular tampons) Max use: about two years Cost: £12-£26 each.
Wuka was another of the early online pioneers of period pants, and has a large range of styles, all of which it says are made from sustainable materials, including organic cotton, Tencel modal and fabric made from plastic ocean waste.
It also has a range of pants made from recycled fabric off-cuts discarded by fast-fashion manufacturers.
We could only include user insights for brands where we received 50 or more responses in our survey, so while our list above covers the more common brands in the UK, there are some options that aren't featured.
Other brands you might've spotted include:
Shopping for period pants is not so different from regular underwear shopping – you'll probably already know what style and size you'd want – but there are some extra considerations.
If it's your first time buying period pants, you might want to start by trying a couple from different brands to find the perfect fit for you.
If you find a brand you like, many sell multipacks which can save you some money. It's also worth shopping around – period pant brands often have discounts of around 10% for new customers buying direct from their site, although do factor in delivery costs versus other options.
Period pants come in an increasingly broad range of shapes and sizes, though few sway from reliable black in the colour stakes.
Bear in mind, the style may affect the absorbency level – a skimpier pant is likely to have a lighter absorbency.
Some manufacturers have branched out into period proof swimwear and gym wear, too.
You'll need to figure out how you want to use your period pants: as a backup to other products, on their own, or for specific times like overnight. Then seek out options that suit your needs: how long you want to wear them for and how heavy your flow might be.
Some brands only offer one absorbency level, which pretty much replaces one tampon, but others have pants designed to be worn for longer periods of time or heavier flow, and hold up to 12 tampons.
There are also light absorbency pants, which can be used at the start and end of your period, or as a backup to prevent leaks on heavier days.
Most (but not all) brands tell you the number of tampons or pads their products are equivalent to. Trying out a light, medium and heavy option may help you to figure out what you need more pairs of.
Just like regular underwear, there's a wide range of materials used for period pants.
Most brands use multiple materials for different purposes, particularly in the gusset, which will have layers for moisture-wicking, fluid capture and leak prevention.
Some use biodegradable and recycled material, but not all.
Prices vary considerably, depending not just on the brand but also the absorbency level and style.
Our brand survey revealed that while some cheaper pants were considered good value, they didn't impress as much on some key performance measures such as leak protection, comfort and durability – so you might not end up as satisfied in the long run.
While the upfront cost of period pants is higher, especially as you realistically need multiple pairs to last you through a period, they should pay for themselves over time.
How much they'll save you versus disposables depends on a few factors, such as how well you care for them when washing, how often you change them, how many tampons or towels you'd typically go through in a cycle, and the type you buy.
As an example:
Or, a pair of £25 period pants costs around as much as nine 18-pack boxes of tampons, and a pair of £6 pants is equivalent to about two boxes.
In our survey, people were mostly positive about their overall experience of using period pants, with 75% saying they liked or loved them.
Here are the top five pros and cons from users of period pants, along with some of the feedback we received:
*% of those who said they liked/disliked vs other sanitary products
We know it's generally better for the planet to reuse things than rely on single-use products, so in this regard, period pants get an automatic leg up over conventional disposable tampons and pads, particularly the plastic-based ones.
But not all period pants are created equally on the sustainability stakes. Many still use synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon, which aren't biodegradable, and might release micro-plastics when they break down.
Some are better at providing information on sustainable fabrics, their material's provenance and their supply chain. Some use certified organic fabrics, or recycled fabrics, which tend to be better for the environment. So, it's worth doing some reading up about the brand before you make a decision if this is important to you.
It's worth remembering that, like ordinary pants, period pants won't last forever. Some manufacturers give you a rough idea of how long they're expected to last – from the brands we looked at this tends to be around two years, or 50-60 washes, but some don't specify and one brand (Love Luna) suggests a year at most.
It may be that they are still wearable after this time but don't retain liquid as effectively, but either way, it's worth checking before you buy.
It's not difficult to wash period pants, but you do need to treat them a little differently to your ordinary washing in order to keep them in good shape.
In general, most manufacturers advise:
Always check the manufacturer instructions on how to wash your period pants, as it might differ slightly between brands.
We've seen anecdotal reports of people using period underwear for mild incontinence issues as well. Some of our survey respondents said they used period pants for this purpose, and indeed some brands, such as Modibodi, advertise their pants for light incontinence leaks too.
The benefits are similar, and potentially offer a more comfortable, stylish and discreet option.
There are also absorbent pants designed specifically for incontinence issues, which might be better suited to your needs and offer similar benefits. While they don't seem to be in the UK yet, for example, Thinx has a fellow brand called Speax in the US which specialises in incontinence products.
Brand insights based on survey of 563 period pant users conducted in December 2021.
Sample sizes by brand: Flo (71), Bodyform (99), LoveLuna (63), M&S (168), Modibodi (87), Pantys (62), Primark (176), WUKA (51). Minimum sample size 50.
We didn't receive enough responses to report on some other period pant brands.