When Should You Actually Throw Out Your Period Underwear?

Periods are a pain in the abs — the lower abdomen, to be specific. As if the pain wasn't bad enough, you also have to commit to changing a tampon every few hours or wearing a bulky pad to get through the day. Breaking up with pads and tampons for good sounds amazing, doesn't it? There's a new product hitting shelves that might just make that fantasy a reality.

Period underwear are one of the newest things on the market for menstrual health, and they are said to be a comfortable and easy solution to the problems presented by more traditional feminine hygiene products. Popular brand Thinx claims that each pair of their period panties can hold up to three tampons' worth of flow, while Proof offers a range of panties designed for every flow level from "super light" to "super heavy." It sounds like a great solution to period problems, but at around $35 per pair, you'll want to make sure it's a cost-effective investment. So, how long do period underwear really last?

They last longer than you think

According to period panty purveyor Grove's website, your period panties should last anywhere from six months to two years. Given that underwear is a delicate wardrobe essential, period underwear should be washed with the same care you would wash your most delicate staples. The Thinx website cites two years as the time frame for their products as well. Period panties can be washed by hand or in the washing machine, and Grove suggests hand rinsing as much blood from the panties as possible before putting them in the washing machine. As with any clothing item, a hand-wash tends to be a gentler solution that will prevent wear and tear over time, allowing your period panties to last longer.

If you're not washing your period underwear every day, you may end up needing a few pairs. At $35 a pair and three pairs per period, this comes out to around $105. According to FSA Store, tampons cost the average female around $50 per year. The cost of tampons vs. period underwear are comparable, but period panties are arguably much more comfortable — as well as much more environmentally friendly. Ultimately the choice is yours, but don't count period underwear out just yet.