Are Your Period Pants Safe? Investigation Reveals Potentially Harmful Levels of Silver

Eva Hagan - Author

Nov. 14 2023, Updated 3:04 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • A study found that popular brands of period underwear have potentially harmful levels of silver.

  • Silver is used to cover up odor, but can kill healthy bacteria in the vagina, which can lead to infection or other complications.

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Your reusable period underwear might be doing more harm than good. A study found that popular brands of period pants contain potentially harmful levels of silver. While silver is occasionally used for odor, it can kill off good bacteria in the vagina, which could lead to an increased risk of infection.

So, if you use menstrual underwear, keep reading to see if you own one of the brands containing silver and what you should do about it.

A pink menstrual cup and a gray polka-dotted reusable pad sit on top of a black pair of underwear, all on top of a purple background.
Source: iStock
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Research finds that silver in period underwear can pose a health risk.

A study has found that several period pants contain silver levels that could negatively impact consumers' health.

Period pants, or period underwear, have become a popular low-waste alternative to disposable menstrual hygiene products. Silver is used as an antimicrobial agent and a popular ingredient in these period pants to cover up any smells, per The Guardian.

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However, in 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that silver has the potential to kill healthy bacteria in the vagina, known as lactobacillus, which is used to fight infection.

The study was conducted by the consumer rights group, Which?, and the Italian consumer organization Altroconsumo. They tested to detect silver over 0.1mg per kg and found significant levels of silver in period pants sold by popular brands.

Intima by Bodyform and Marks & Spencer contained the highest levels of silver, at 126.7mg/kg and 57.8mg/kg, respectively. Next in line was Thinx at 8.3mg/kg, Luna at 7.4mg/kg, followed by levels lower than 1mg in Modibodi, Airism by Uniqlo, and Cool Period.

They also noted that no silver was found in pants sold by Primark, Repeat, Sloggi, and Lovable, per Which?.

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PFAS were also discovered in Thinx period underwear.

According to Which?, the silver investigation was prompted by the January 2023 class action lawsuit against the brand Thinx after poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) aka forever chemicals, as well as nanosilver, were found in their products. Thinx denied the claims and ended up settling, providing refunds for those who bought Thinx Period Underwear.

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What should you do if you have underwear with silver?

As of November 2023, none of the brands listed have admitted to unsafe levels of silver in their products.

A spokesperson for Essity, the brand that owns Bodyform and Modibodi told CosmopolitanUK, “Consumers can wear Bodyform and Modibodi period underwear with confidence because they are safe, sustainable and provide superior performance. Both sets of underwear tested contain silver copper zeolite to prevent odor when wearing the pants for up to 12-hours, which our research shows is a key concern for customers.”

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Other brands responded similarly, denying any harmful levels of silver. Since there is no class action lawsuit against these brands, customers haven’t been given the option for financial compensation if affected by the silver.

However, if you use period underwear from one of the brands listed, you may consider switching to another reusable period product, such as menstrual cups or reusable pads.

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