The Best Period Swimwear of 2023
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The Best Period Swimwear of 2023

May 06, 2023

Go with the flow while you float.

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Shape / Tamara Staples

Today is the day of your long-awaited beach trip with your besties. Or maybe it's the day of the triathlon you’ve been training for. Or maybe it's the day of the most important swim meet of the year.

It should be the most exciting day of the year, when the unthinkable happens: You get your period.

If you're a person-with-a-period, you know how much it sucks when your cycle syncs up with your splish-splashing plans. After all, not only do you have to manage premenstrual symptoms, you also have to worry about leaking through your suit, and continuously check that your tampon string doesn't make a cameo appearance.

Thanks to a new category of swimwear, Aunt Flo's arrival doesn't have to mean your beach departure. Behold: Period swimwear.

Period swimwear uses the same liquid-locking technology as period underwear (and other period-protective clothing). Slide ‘em on, and the ultra-absorbent lining works overtime to absorb the period blood, so that you stay dry, and your time of month remains a mystery to those around you.

In addition to being swim-safe, period bikinis and one-pieces are also sustainable. Unlike pads, liners, and tampons (which are a one-and-done period product), period swimwear can get (hand) washed and then worn over and over and over again.

So which period swimwear should you get and where the heck can you get your hands (and hiney!) on some? Well, that all depends on your style, as well as how heavy your flow is. We tested 9 different period swimwear products in our New York lab, and we evaluated them on quality, absorbency, value, feel, and even odor. Currently, we're still testing these products with our long-term, real-world test protocols — but considering summer is *checks watch* basically here, we're sharing the results of our lab tests so you can start shopping. Ahead, we wax poetic about the winners in each category, plus share exactly how to buy them.

Savvi Wear

Why We Like It: Absorbent, affordable, and available in a variety of sizes, these high-waisted bottoms are a great option for menstruators across body sizes, budgets, and flows.

It's Worth Noting: Two words: Tummy tanline.

These podium-finishing period swimwear checked all of our boxes regarding what's most important in a wearable period product, as well as what looks and feels good in any type of swimwear. These bottoms hold more than two tampons’ worth of blood, making them optimal for medium-flow days. Despite how much blood these bottoms hold, they feel incredibly light when on — silky, smooth, and totally not scratchy.

We also love that this product smelled like, well, nothing! Sometimes period products smell vaguely like chemicals. This pair did not. Phew.

The most notable feature of Savvi Wear Menstrual Leak Proof High Waisted Bikini Bottom, however, is their high-waisted design. Made to come up even higher than your belly button, these are a good option for menstruators who bloat in the heat, as well as those who hate the skimpy seat-showing cut of most bottoms on the market these days. That said, you might get a funky tan line from the ultra high waist.

Best? The design of these babies is simple, which means whether you get them in black, green, or pink, they’ll match whatever top you pair ‘em with.

Price at time of publishing: $33

Swimsuit Type: High Waisted Bikini Bottoms | Promised Absorbency: Holds up to 2-2.5 tampon's worth of liquids | Care: Machine wash cold, hang dry | Sizes Available: 3XS-3XL

Shape / Jessica Juliao


Why We Like It: These chic high-waisted bottoms hold an impressive three tampons’ worth of blood!

It's Worth Noting: It takes a hot second (or 5) for the liner in these bottoms to absorb your blood. So, you may feel a bit wet for a bit.

Fashionistas, this pair of bikini bottoms is for you. Truly, given how stylish these high-waisted pairs are, you might be tempted to wear them even when you’re not menstruating. They are designed to come up just above your belly button and feature a band at the top that is equal parts supportive and stylish.

FTR: This supportive band is nothing short of magic. It somehow manages to support without suffocating, yet is still tight enough that we expect the bottoms to stay perfectly in place during our long-term tests. In other words, these period bottoms are great for sports *and* play.

These bottoms are designed to absorb three tablespoons of blood, which is about the same as 3 tampons. And when we tested these cuties? We saw dreams really can come true (aka they really are THAT absorbent). Though, it did take a noticeable amount of time for the gusset to absorb our test liquid. In the real world, we'd be concerned about feeling like we were sitting in, well, wet. While this won't be noticeable when you’re playing Marco Polo or Sharks and Minnows (#TBT) in the water, you may notice it while you’re lounging on your towel.

Still, there was absolutely no leakage or odor. So, while we think this absorbency time is worth noting, it's certainly not a deal-breaker.

Price at time of publishing: $55

Swimsuit Type High Rise Bikini Bottoms | Promised Absorbency: Absorbs 3 teaspoons of blood | Care: Machine wash cold, hang dry | Sizes Available: XS-4XL

Shape / Jessica Juliao


Why We Like It: Built for teens on swim team, this one-piece is here to absorb your flow while you front crawl your way through the water.

It's Worth Noting: Because it doesn't have built-in breast support, this suit is better for small-chested swimmers.

Bluntly, if you’re diving or swimming laps, most period bikini bottoms won't cut it — or, at least, won't cut if you want a pair that stays on when you dive in or flip turn. Thankfully, for serious swimmers and divers, there's the Knixteen Period Swim Sport One-Piece.

With a racerback cut and chlorine-resistant fabric, this one-piece is here to absorb your blood on your more-athletic occasions — and that stands even if you have a medium flow! This suit holds up to three pads’ worth of blood. And, not only does it absorb liquid, but it absorbs it rapidly. During testing, we were impressed by how quickly the gusset gulped up the liquid we poured onto it.

Unfortunately, this suit isn't great for larger-chested swimmers. Why? Because there isn't any of the additional chest and breast support that classic racing one-pieces provide. Further, the straps aren't adjustable which means you can't cinch them tight to keep your knockers from, well, knocking around!

While this suit is marketed toward teens, we’ll be honest: Those of us who are currently testing it have left our teenage years far behind. If you need a sports swimsuit and you get a thrill every time a bartender asks for your ID, you might be able to make this swimsuit work. According to the size guide, the medium is equivalent to an adult pants size of 4 to 8.

Price at time of publishing: $83

Swimsuit Type One Piece | Promised Absorbency: Holds up to 3 pads’ worth of blood | Care: Machine wash cold, hang dry | Sizes Available: XXS-XXL

Shape / Jessica Juliao


Why We Like It: Simple and sleek, these high-waist period underwear go with any ‘ole bikini top.

It's Worth Noting: These are best worn as back-up protection in conjunction with a tampon, cup, or disc.

Absolutely confuzzled when Mean Girls’ Bethany Byrd said she had a heavy flow and wide-set vagina? Then the Modibodi Recycled High Waist Bikini period bottoms are for you.

Made from 100 percent polyester, the gusset lining is engineered to absorb just one tampon's worth of blood. As such, these period swimwear bottoms are best for people on the tail-end of their period, those regularly plagued by spotting, and anyone looking for extra peace of mind while wearing a tampon (or cup).

These high-rise bottoms are designed to fully cover your stomach, as well as cheeks. Whilst modest, these Modibodi bottoms still manage to be stylish. The top features a band that helps keep the bottoms up while you swim and enhances your body's natural curve. Currently only available in black, these pair perfectly with whatever bikini top you already own.

Oh, and as their name suggests, they are made from recycled fabric. So, not only are you saving yourself from a beach day leak, you’re saving the fishies, too!

Price at time of publishing: $43

Swimsuit Type: High Waisted Bikini Brief | Promised Absorbency: Absorbency: 10ml, 1-2 tampons | Care: Machine wash cold, hang dry | Sizes Available: XS-4XL

Shape / Jessica Juliao

Remember those old-school pad commercials? Yanno, the ones where pretty people in white pour a Mystery Blue Liquid over the menstrual product in question to highlight just how much liquid it can absorb? Basically, we reenacted those commercials for this period swimwear round-up.

Once we received period products from all (yes, all!) of the period protective wear manufacturers currently making suits, we poured the liquid over the gusset to see if the suits could hold as much liquid as its marketing blurbs claim they can. If the liquid sat in the gusset rather than absorbing, spilled over the edge, or seeped through to the other side, we nixed the period swimwear from our list of faves.

After spilling the liquid into the absorbent liner, we put the bottoms on, then laid down on a (white!) towel for 30 minutes. Why? To see if any of the "blood" transferred from the bottoms to the towel beneath. If it did, we took the swimwear out of the running. Because again, if we want swimwear that can replace disposable period products, it has to be as reliable as those disposable period products.

Absorbency aside, we also did a two-part sniff test on the swimwear we tested. As soon as we took the underwear out of their packaging, we sniffed the product to determine if there was a chemical smell. We also checked for lingering scent after washing according to manufacturer instructions.

At the time of publishing this piece, we’ve tested these swimsuits in our New York lab, and we’re currently doing long-term testing to see how these perform IRL. We’ll update this piece after two and six months of testing to share the latest and most detailed testing analysis.

Shape / Jessica Juliao

Now that you understand the value of period swimwear, it's time to invest! When picking a pair to purchase, there are three things you want to look at: style, absorbency, and available sizes.

Unlike period underwear which you can cover up with stylish bottoms, period swimwear are the bottoms. In other words, how they look matters cause you can't just cover them up.

First, figure out if you’d prefer a one-piece or two-piece. Generally speaking, a one-piece is best for water sports, while a two-piece is ideal for showing off your belly piercing, and avoiding midriff tan lines. When making this decision, you’ll also want to think about what bikini tops you currently have (if any). Period bikini bottoms are sold as standalone pieces without accompanying tops, so you’ll have to put in the extra leg work of finding a top that matches.

Shape / Jessica Juliao

If you prefer a two-piece, you’ll have to decide what cut you like best. Whether you want full-coverage high-rise or medium-coverage bikini-cut, there's probably a period swimwear iteration available on the market. (Though, unsurprisingly, there is very little period swimwear available in thong or cheeky cuts).

If your plan is to forgo your current menstrual products in favor of period swimwear, you need to make sure that the pair you pick are as absorbent as a day's (or afternoon's) worth of menstrual products!

If, for example, you’re someone who changes their tampon every two hours and you typically go to the beach for half a day, you’ll want to make sure the bottoms you choose can absorb at least two to three tampons worth of blood. Meanwhile, if you have a lighter flow, you’ll be able to get away with buying bottoms that absorb one tampon or pad's worth of blood.

Your move: be honest with yourself about your flow. Then, keep that in mind while you shop.

Good news: All the suits we included on this list are available in a wide variety of sizes. Most fit true to size, but if you have a larger chest you may need to size up. Ditto goes if you are buying a period-proof one-piece and have a particularly long torso.

Ultimately, how well periods swimsuits work will depend on the period swimwear in question. However, yes, all of the period swimsuits included on this list effectively and efficiently absorb period blood, keeping it from leaking through to the other size, seeping onto your towel, or spreading into the water.

No, you cannot not wear a traditional menstrual pad with period swimwear — and for a few reasons.

For starters, menstrual pads aren't waterproof. Hop in the water and the pad will soak up the ocean or pool water, making it too saturated for your flow. Second, because of their design. Most pads secure into your underwear by locking around the gusset. Wear a pad with your bikini bottoms and you’ll be able to see the little sticky tabs sticking out of the crotch.

You also likely won't be able to wear a panty liner with most period swimwear. Adhesive typically does not stick well to the fabric that makes up the gusset of period swimwear.

Given that we all have different flows and different designs have different absorbencies, there is no one size fits all answer.

Figure out how long you can wear the suit you purchased by looking at the absorbence online, thinking about how often you typically need to change your tampon or pad, then doing a little mental math.

You can maximize how long you can wear a particular pair by pairing the bottoms with an insertive menstrual product like a disc, tampon, or cup.

Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a freelance wellness journalist with nearly a decade of experience writing about sexual health products, exercise equipment, workout gear. In addition to Shape, her work has appeared in publications such as Health, SELF, Women's Health, Men's Health, Greatist, Bustle, and more.

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