In recent years I have been looking more and more into sustainable period products, and period pants in particular. I was sceptical though. Would they work on heavier days? I imagined the dreaded leaking, and having to change clothes and bed linen and doing a whole lot of laundry. And who wants that on that period?!
I was also sceptical about period pants due to having sensitive skin from a chronic illness condition. Other period products were causing issues, but thankfully the WUKA period pants seem to be the way to go as I haven't had any reactions.
AD disclosure: This post was not written for monetary compensation, but the WUKA period pants were gifted to me (with no obligation to post - I just wanted to!).
A brief history of period products
I remember reading a little on the history of period products for a class at university, but of course most of the facts and figures have long escaped me. So I did a little digging . . .
National Geographic describes how disposable sanitary products first went on sale in the 1920s. Kotex 'were made with Cellucotton, a hyper-absorbent plant-based material that had been developed during World War I for use as medical bandaging. Nurses started to repurpose the material for menstrual pads, and the practice stuck'.
A decade later, tampons became to be more widely used by those engaging in physical pursuits such as athletes and dancers. What these products offered was 'both convenience—they were readily available in many drugstores—and discretion—women wouldn’t have to worry about bringing used cloths from work to home. It also allowed menstruators to “pass,” hiding their bodily functions from those around them, letting work continue uninterrupted' (National Geographic).
Come the 1960s, a growing range of plastics meant that period products changed somewhat in their design. Gone were belts, and over the next few decades came in self-adhesive strips (and 'wings') as well as applicators and absorbent gels (Royal Society of Chemistry).
The environmental problem of period products
Given all the plastic in many pads and tampons, and their packaging too, it is unsurprising that period products are now an environmental problem.
It has been found that 200,000 tonnes of disposable pads and tampons are sent to landfill every single year in the UK alone, each containing vast amounts of polluting, single-use plastic (WUKA). In the US, it estimated that 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are sent to landfill (Organicup.com).
The average period product can take 500 years to break down. Given the millions, actually billions, sold around the world each year, the scale of products in landfill sites and washing up on beaches is ever-growing.
Trying sustainable period products
Sustainable period products entered the 'period arena' in a more mainstream sense around the turn of the century, or from my perception at least. More and more options have sprung up in the past decade and are now found in supermarkets, pharmacies and drug stores as a matter of course.
My first 'dabble' at sustainable period products was using a menstrual cup. I still use it to this day.
I also use more environmentally friendly pads and panty liners than the more mainstream brands. Personally I use Natracare panty liners - so much softer than regular ones and no horrible perfume smell!
My menstrual cup has saved me a great deal of money, and many hundreds of tampons and pads being thrown in the bathroom bin. It has been game-changing, especially on heavier days, when I used to go through tampons every hour, but with two slight issues . . .
The first issue is that I still get small leaks from it. This may be due to using the wrong size, but I don't think a larger size will work for me. So using a menstrual cup right now means also using a panty liner to be on the safe side. Of course, this kind of defeats the purpose a little even though I use a more sustainable brand.
It can aggravate skin issues . . .
The other issue is that a chronic illness condition, lichen sclerosus, means that the menstrual cup can irritate my skin at times. Lichen sclerosus means that skin is more fragile and prone to splitting and tearing. Use of the menstrual cup for more than a day or two can cause this to happen.
Related post: Living with lichen sclerosus
WUKA period pants
So period pants were my next period product to try. I was sceptical for sure. I thought they would be overly bulky, uncomfortable and I envisaged a lot of leaking. But then a friend said she used them alongside her menstrual cup and it seemed to make sense.
The price though . . . it seemed a bit off-putting with some ranges being £50-60 per pair. That was a lot of money for a pair of knickers that I may dislike and never use again.
So when WUKA contacted me and asked if they could gift me a pair of their heavy flow period pants I was very eager to try them out. They kindly sent me three different styles, which was a lovely surprise.
Everything I have learnt about WUKA period pants attests to them being a sustainable period product that is far better for the environment than pads and tampons. Of course, they aren't designed to be thrown away after a single use, they don't use added chemicals, there is no plastic packaging and they are also approved by PETA and registered with the Vegan Society (WUKA).
The fit of WUKA period pants
I didn't need to worry about the fit of WUKA period pants. The material is very soft, and so comfortable. They are definitely very easy to wear.
The pairs I have are more high-waisted which feels more reassuring somehow when in my period. My slightly bloated tummy wants something soft, and higher waisted, without being tight. They tick all three boxes.
No added chemicals
This was quite important for me. I can't stand the chemical smell you can get when opening a pack of pads. All the perfume they add has a nauseating impact on me, and I just don't believe it can be good for my skin.
The WUKA period pants don't have any added chemicals, and they don't add silver treatments or antibacterial treatments to their products (WUKA).
Maybe the most important factor of course! I think all us ladies have had dramas over the years of leaking on clothes and bed linen. That's why wearing white on our period isn't something we usually consider after all . . .
I was a bit cautious the first month I used the WUKA period pants. Beginning by only using them as 'back up' alongside the menstrual cup. Then I got a bit braver and did what felt foolish at the time - wore only those overnight on my heaviest day. I had images of changing my (white!!!) bed linen the next morning . . .
I was very happy to discover that wasn't necessary at all, and they haven't failed me once.
My favourite style is the WUKA Basics Hipster, which holds around 4 tampons worth - so perfect for heavier days and nights.
For sensitive skin
I haven't had any issues at all with these period pants for sensitive skin issues. They don't rub or chafe (of course, make sure you use their size guide to get the right fit).
The absence of perfume or fragrance means that isn't an issue for my skin, and the soft material is perfect for me. I highly recommend trying them if other period products are an issue for you.
The only issue is that on heavier days the material does stay a bit damp, which isn't great for skin for any length of time. For that reason, I use them more as back up alongside a menstrual cup, or use several pairs during the course of the day and night.
Downsides to period pants
There are only two downside to period pants that I can think of. The first being that I feel I need to wear a different pair during the day and then at night due to sensitive skin. So it means using a few pairs in one day.
The other downside is that you need to buy several pairs, unless you plan to do washing each day. And I definitely don't do that!
My overall review of WUKA period pants
I am a big fan of WUKA period pants. In fact I wouldn't be writing this post if I wasn't. As already mentioned, I wasn't paid to do so, nor was it an obligation of being gifted the products. I wrote it because I think they are brilliant.
I would definitely recommend trying them out. As well as being a great sustainable choice, they are comfortable and easy to care for. And far more affordable than other brands without compromising on quality.
In the near future I will be purchasing a couple more pairs so that I don't have to worry about not having done the laundry and running out on day three!
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