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Period Products Tested With Blood for the First Time Ever?


This isn't quite true...

It's fair to say that a comparison of period products has just been completed in a lab. Researchers used packed red blood cells to approximate menstrual blood.

British Medical Journal paper on sexual and reproductive health study recently reported that 21 menstrual hygiene products including tampons, pads and menstrual cups were tested in the laboratory to determine their maximum capacity.

The team found that there was a mismatch between reported absorbency and actual absorbency of the products, with most brands claiming they had a higher absorbency level than research found.

The researchers acknowledged that the difficulty with this type of testing is that flooding and clotting could not be replicated in a lab environment.

In addition, the packed red blood cells didn't contain vaginal secretions or endometrial cells.

Speed of menstrual flow was also not taken into account. The researchers felt that this was the reason that during their 30 min tests, period underwear performed worst out of all products.

The findings could possibly help people better choose suitable products for their menstrual cycle, as well as help doctors better assess whether heavy periods are a sign of underlying health problems.

Problems with the study

The study didn't confirm whether their reusable products had been washed prior to use.

From experience, reusable products seem to take 3 to 4 washes to reach optimum absorbency. From the results of this study, it's very possible that the pads and period pants possibly hadn't been pre-washed which is why absorbency appeared low.

Shop Bamboo Night Pads

"Soaks a lot of blood. Great for flooding. I found to be the best pad to avoid leaks. Just need to be mindful that even though it’s so absorbent, sometimes the flooding is too much for any pad and it will leak.

My period is very heavy flooding due to being peri menopause, so have changed from disposable pads to these as disposable ones just didn’t hold blood. I was leaking through clothes at work and had to go home to change clothes.

But now I use these, I’m finding I can make it an hour and half to two hours before changing on heaviest days and then just change it at lunch and break at work on lighter days." Product Review Bamboo Night Pads (via Trustpilot)

How are period products tested?

Period products such as pads or tampons, menstrual underwear and cups are tested in laboratories using water or saline solution to compare how much is absorbed over a period of time.

Whilst this is a consistent methodology for comparing absorbency volume, it's actually extremely flawed for several reasons:

  • saline or water are used, rather than blood which is more viscous
  • no accounting for clots or flooding
  • absorbency is measured across the entire surface area of the product, whereas blood tends to collect more heavily in some areas than others
  • timing is set over a 30 min period usually, in reality period products are worn for much longer

Period product lab testing is great as an indication but doesn't take into account real life variations.

For example, our sporty cotton period pants have an absorbency of 200ml using lab tests. However we never use these results when talking about our product performance because we know how flawed these tests are.

"Love that these work for heavy days, lots of coverage, and they don’t feel bulky and clunky like some do. Got perfect sizing recommendation." Sporty Cotton Heavy Flow Pants Review

The Cheeky approach to period product testing

Our products are all lab tested as they need to be to meet UK selling requirements.

In parallel to this however, Cheeky period pants and pads are tested by a variety of different testers, in a variety of different situations. They give us their absorbency rating based on their own real life usage.

Here's how Cheeky period products are tested.  They're tested by:

  • teens at the start of their periods
  • the perimenopausal gang with super heavy periods, clots and flooding
  • 'normal' flow people
  • and everything in between

This real life testing takes into account actual LIFE situations too:

Testing period pads or pants whilst lounging on the sofa

Lounging or sitting can cause period blood to flow backwards. This can cause leaks if your pads or pants don't have sufficient absorbency at the rear.

Testing period pants & pads you sleep

Front or side sleepers can often suffer leaks if absorbency isn't in the correct place overnight. That's why most Cheeky period pants have absorbency to both the rear AND front waistband as standard.

Testing period undies and pads during sports or activities

Sports and activities can make your pads or pants move around (squat wedgie anyone?)

That's why it's important to test the absorbency of period underwear when you're being active or on the go too. Period pants are brilliant for sports and activities as they need to stay in place and feel secure.

Testing period products at school and work

We know it's sometimes tricky to get a break to change your period products , especially if you're at school or on a long shift.

Our testers wear their pants or pads at school or work too, just like you would. Testing our products in real life situations means that you can be confident that our products work at the level we say they will.

We hope that has helped you understand the limitations of lab testing for period products and how Cheeky Products are tested instead for better real life usage.

Fearless Heavy Flow Pants

"Comfortable to wear and although they feel a little bulky at first, you hardly notice them under clothing.

It is soooo nice to be able to lie front, back, reclined, sideways, however you want, and not leak. These lasted 12 to 24 hours even on a heavy flow and I didn't get a spot of blood anywhere else the whole time. It was remarkable. " Fearless Heavy Flow Pants, Review

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About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, internal period protection such as tampons or menstrual cups were no longer an option for her and she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable panty liners and reusable sanitary pads.

The Cheeky customer services team pride themselves on providing honest, friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long, helping people make the switch to reusables! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.

Tracy Swadling
16 October 2023  |  15:50

I think these are great..I wear both knickers and pads together, after 4 hours or so I remove the pad then continue in the knickers saves changing and carrying loads of stuff with me or if I'm really heavy just put a new pad on so I no it won't leak. Win win. My 2 girls use them and think there great too. Just pop them in the wet bag and wash at-home.

16 October 2023  |  15:57

Hey Tracy, thanks so much for the comment, we do exactly the same on our heavy days - it's a gamechanger!

Love that your girls love them too!