Raise your hand if you are or ever have been uncomfortable talking about menstruation? I think a lot of us fit into that bucket, as society has not always made it an easy subject.
The first time I had my period (of course I have to tell the story), all the women in my family took me out to lunch. It was a long-standing tradition. I found it exciting because I got to pick the restaurant. But the excitement ended there. It took a mortifying turn, in the eyes of a pre-teen, when we went back to my grandma’s house and she, my mom, aunts, and cousins started telling me all of their period stories.
I was horrified to hear about sanitary belts and all the products that just didn’t work, ruining their favorite skirts or jeans.
I used to think that round-table discussion of ladies was all meant to make me feel grateful that I didn’t go through puberty when they did. But now I look back at that memory and realize there was no agenda to mortify, scare, or force gratitude on me. It was just a group of women totally comfortable talking about a natural part of their life with all the realness that it entails. There were no coy euphemisms, no “Aunt Flows,” “monthly visitors,” or “lady time” thrown in the mix. Just real talk. It was actually a gift.
So, let’s talk about periods. In the spirit of their unabashed realness, I’m going to tell you about my period and a product I thoroughly enjoyed running in during my time of the month: Thinx period leggings.
Thinx Leggings Review
Thinx Period Leggings | $95
Menstrual products really have come a long way. I recently learned about sanitary aprons, meant to be worn under a dress or skirt. They were advertised in the U.S. in the 1920’s as “indispensable for travel, automobiling, athletics, emergency uses.”
I’m so glad to be running in leggings and not in a sanitary apron and skirt.
Thinx, which is known for their period underwear (underwear you can wear without using a pad, tampon, or menstrual cup without fear of show-through) launched their full period activewear line on January 12. The line includes leggings, cycle shorts, training shorts, and a leotard, all meant to be worn as they are, with no pad or pantyliner.
“I’ve had the opportunity to design intimates and activewear for the last 20 years,” commented Courtney Newman, Thinx director of product design, “But this is such a groundbreaking moment as we are the first period solution company to offer a full collection of activewear.”
I chose to test the high-waist, full-length leggings, which I found to be super comfortable. And for my flow, they worked. I had no leaking, no staining, and I didn’t feel wet. I specifically chose to test the light green style over black so it would be more obvious if anything went amiss, but the absorbent fabric did its job.
They’re advertised as holding three tampons worth of blood. To test that out, I tried to wear them as long as I could on a heavy flow day before running in them, knowing I’d want to take them off after they got sweaty. I wore them into the afternoon and then took off on my run—a simple, 30-minute recovery run.
That’s when I realized how thick and hot they are. For me, they were far too hot for even a cool, 40 to 45 degree day. So, I decided to give them another go on a colder day. Luckily, snow was in the forecast for later in the week.
That also gave me time to test washing them between wears. I found that I had to rinse them in cold water before washing them to get all the blood out, but that was easy enough to do. I laid them out to dry and a day later they were ready to accompany me on a snowy, below-freezing tempo run. They were perfect for that scenario: Warm, yet breathable; comfortable and fitted; and I loved not having to wear a panty liner or tampon while running on a medium-flow day.
Other design features to dig: deep side pockets and a heating pad pocket (which I used to hold my phone).
Helping Other People Who Menstruate Get Access They Need
For my current situation, I see something like period underwear or activewear as a money saver. Paying $30 to $100 up front to have a product that will last several years is more of a saving than buying a $10 box of tampons or pads regularly. But that’s not the case for every person who menstruates, as it has not always been the case for me.
Period poverty is a very real problem. According to the American Medical Association, the lifetime cost of menstruation for women in the U.S. is $1,800 or 17,000 tampons or pads. Period products are a health necessity, yet many people cannot afford regular access.
A recent study found that 14.2 percent of women in college had experienced period poverty in the last year and an additional 10 percent experienced it every month. The study found that this directly impacted their mental well-being.
Thinx partners with schools and youth-serving nonprofits to provide puberty education to communities that need it. “EveryBody is an opportunity for young people to learn about their changing bodies in a safe, empowered space,” their website states. They also provide access to menstrual hygiene and incontinence products to people who need it.
How to get educated and get involved.
These organizations provide public health information and hygiene resources to people who menstruate.
Homeless Period Project | Though they started by offering menstrual hygiene products to people in shelters and on the streets, the organization expanded in 2018 to offering their services to all menstruating people in need.
Girls Inc. | This non-profit provides evidence-based programming to girls to promote healthy living, academic enrichment, and fundamental life skills.
Period. | A youth-led organization, Period distributes free menstrual products to people in need while also advocating for menstrual equity.