I have always been a bit baffled by period panties. Since having my first child and committing to cloth diapers, I fell in love with cloth menstrual pads and menstrual cups. But when period panties first hit the market, I admit that I didn’t really get it.
Isn’t the whole point of a cloth pad or a cup so that you don’t need to keep changing your undies? Do you have to tote a bunch of spare undies with you and strip down in a cubicle? Isn’t it uncomfortable to wear the same pair of absorbent panties all day? ISN’T PANTIES ONE OF THE WORST WORDS EVER?!
When I saw Newex underwear pop up in my Facebook feed, a couple of things stood out to me. Firstly, made in Quebec! Mais oui! Secondly, holds up to five regular tampons worth of fluid?! Ah oui?!
I reached out to Newex because I thought that their Performance Underwear would be the perfect way to complete my reusable period product triad: pads, cups and panties!
I didn’t know quite what to expect from Newex, but I had a few things I was worried about. Wouldn’t they feel bulky and show through my leggings? Wouldn’t it feel gross and swampy to wear them all day during my flow? Wouldn’t I have to change them awkwardly while out of the house?
So, are you ready for my verdict?
Here are 5 things that surprised me about Newex period panties:
1- The flattering fit
I think we all have a particular image that springs to mind when we first hear “period panties.” You know, your big old saggy undies that you only pull out from the bottom of the drawer when it’s time to saddle in a massive maxi pad.
Well let me tell you, Newex are not your period granny panties.
Newex Performance Underwear offer full bum coverage, yes, but full bum coverage that doesn’t slip into your butt crack with every step you take. Thongs and these new “cheeky” style panties I keep seeing confuse the heck out of me—are they not just perma-wedgies?
All I ever want, menstruating or not, is full-bum undies that fit snuggly and don’t leave a massive panty line, don’t require a Brazilian wax but also don’t cover my belly button.
In all honesty, I love the fit, cut and material of Newex Performance Underwear so much I could wear them every day. They look smooth even under leggings (which are all I wear).
2- The trim built-in absorbency
So it might seem weird to like period panties enough to want to wear them every day, because why would you want that extra bulk between your thighs every day? Why would you want to wear a diaper when you don’t have to?
Well guess what? The absorbent core of Newex undies is hella thin—it is almost imperceptible. Unless you are holding a pair in your hands, you do not notice that built-in absorbency. To match the absorbency of the Newex core with a regular cloth pad in my stash, I’d need something much thicker.
I just finished watching the Netflix documentary Cheer, and cheerleading is about the only time I can think of that a non-medical professional or intimate partner would be close enough to your crotch to perceive the bulk of a menstrual pad, and dare I say … in Newex (which also makes athletic shorts and capris) even your cheer partner wouldn’t notice
3- The absorbent capacity
Given the trimness of the sewn-in absorbency in Newex underwear, it was hard for me to believe they’d contain my flow. The product description says that a pair of Performance Underwear will contain five regular tampons worth.
I asked owner Fanny what that meant in terms of grams, and she said that Newex absorb 56 grams of liquid. You might wonder how one might know the volume of their menstruation offhand so as to truly evaluate this assertion. Well, conveniently for you, I have become the kind of person who measures her menstrual flow (as captured by her menstrual cup) and texts her best friend about it. Based on the flow in my cup on my heaviest days, and having tried a pair of Newex all day on a heavy day, I’d say they’re as absorbent as they claim!
The first day of my period, I slipped on my Newex for their maiden voyage and was at first a bit surprised by how light my flow seemed to be. Being black, you don’t see how much you’ve bled, and being relatively stay-dry, you don’t really feel it either. It wasn’t until I rinsed my used pair in the sink that I saw how much had been absorbed. And I wondered, as I always do when rinsing my reusable menstrual products, how on earth a person successfully cleans a murder scene. I wore the same pair for about eight hours and changed them when I noticed some transfer of blood to the non-absorbent gusset of the underwear. (Not enough to stain my pants.)
4- The stay-dry comfort
Every good maxi pad commercial features a well-manicured hand delicately pressing a white paper on top of a pad that has been drenched in a fluorescent blue liquid, then proudly flipping over said piece of paper to show how little blue has transferred. (And an even better commercial will show that same hand testing out the competitor’s pad and coming up with a significantly more blue-stained paper.) The point of this delightfully Smurfy demonstration is of course to show how the pad traps liquid (for one dare not say MENSTRUAL FLUID or BLOOD on television) and maintains a dry-to-the-touch sensation on top for all-day comfort.
Because I take my reusable menstrual product testing VERY seriously, I recreated this same very scientific experiment with a piece of toilet paper and my Newex undies at various points throughout the day. Considering how I didn’t feel swampy or like I was walking around with a Lady Macbeth scene in my pants, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find very little blood transfer to the TP!
5- The convenience
We all bleed differently. I would characterize my flow as heavy in the first two days, and I am currently on a quest to find the right menstrual cup to use on my heaviest days. I am only three menstrual cycles into the rest of my menstruating life (since getting pregnant for the first time back in 2011, I have really had very few periods, so it feels brand new at this point).
The kind of menstrual products we prefer can have a lot to do with what our daily life looks like. Test driving menstrual cups and period panties is not something I would want to do while working out of the house, and what solution ultimately works for you will depend on both your menstrual flow and the flow of your day.
When I wore my Newex for the first time, I found that after eight hours there was some transfer to the edges of the undies, and it was definitely time to change them. On days 2 and 3 of my most recent period, which seems to be getting progressively heavier with each cycle, I changed after six hours. (However, for the same time frame, I’d have likely changed my reusable pad twice.) Obviously if you’re at work, it’s not convenient to be slipping into a new pair of undies before the commute home: it’s easier to put on a fresh pad or empty your cup (if you have a private bathroom … cup management is challenging if you’ve got stalls!). For me at home with the kids all day, even if I have to change my pair mid-day, I find them very convenient. Compared to cloth pads, I change my Newex far less and am comfortable longer, even with a heavy flow.
By days four and five of my second-to-last period, I was suffering greatly from hand foot mouth disease. I felt like I’d been run over by a bus and could barely move (although I somehow managed to care for the kids … it was a dark time). I bring this up because I wore my Newex for much longer than eight hours on those days, and without a hint of a leak. In fact, partly because I felt like I’d been run over by a bus but also partly thanks to Newex, I completely forgot I had my period at all. Same deal during the crazy busy days when I was both menstruating and moving houses. Talk about convenient!
In case you still have questions …
So, what kind of flow is Newex good for?
The level of convenience you will enjoy with Newex Performance Underwear definitely depends on your lifestyle and your flow.
For those with a heavy to super heavy flow, Newex is going to be perfect for you at the end of your cycle OR as a back up to your cup or tampon. I have a friend (the same friend whom I like to text with my menstrual fluid measurements, #obvi) who often texts me to tell me about the latest inconvenient spot she’s realized her cup is overflowing. If you can relate to this, Newex will be your new best friend.
If you are a moderate to light flow kinda bleeder for your whole cycle, firstly I am jealous, and secondly I imagine you’d be happy wearing one pair of Newex from morning till bedtime, then a fresh pair at night.
Because Newex’s absorbency doesn’t go all the way up the back of the panty, I expected to leak overnight. But since the absorbency moves with your body and stays close because of the snug fit of the undies themselves, aside from a bit of side transfer along the inside of the gusset (not enough to even transfer to my pajama bottoms), I have had leak-free nights in my Newex.
What about overnight?
Just like for daytime, it will really depend on how heavy your flow is. I will often empty my menstrual cup when I get up to pee in the middle of the night, so I don’t use Newex alone overnight when my flow is heavy. I have tried it, and I can almost make it the whole night, but not quite.
Are they easy to wash?
Absolutely. I rinse mine out with cold water in the sink before putting them in my wet bag to wait for wash day. You could also toss them in the washer and run a quick rinse before adding more laundry. Either way, I just wash them with whatever I’m washing and dry them on low.
Are they expensive? How many pairs do I need?
One pair of Newex Performance Underwear is CAN$34.99. Keeping in mind that they are manufactured in Canada, the price point is very respectable. I own six pairs, which I would consider to be more than enough as long as you are washing midway through your cycle. (And since you can just toss them in with whatever you are washing, this is easy to do.)
Do they work for light bladder leakage?
Yup! I mean, thanks to my successful pelvic floor physio, I’m no longer peeing myself, but they are designed to also hold urine. They are also marketed for discharge and sweating … basically if your body excretes it, Newex will hold it. I personally prefer using reusable panty liners for discharge outside of my menstrual cycle.
I’ve heard some period panties have scary chemicals … what about Newex?
I reached out to Fanny, Newex’s co-owner, to ask about the testing conducted on their fabrics. First of all, she was receptive and curious and not at all obfuscated by my questions. Having a direct line to a company’s owner and having her be transparent and thoughtful in her answers is a big plus for me.
Based on my questions, she contacted all of her various textile providers and requested certificates of testing confirming that each component was free of PFAs. She recently confirmed that all of her product’s textile components are PFA-free. If you have any concerns or doubts, don’t hesitate to reach out to Newex via their Facebook page or their contact form at Newex.ca.