What are Panty Liners for? Are They Good for You?

    Updated 21 November 2021 |
    Published 08 December 2018
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist
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    The purpose of panty liners still raises a lot of questions. Are panty liners just a well-marketed product with little to no purpose? If not, what are they for? Find out all about panty liners in the article below.

    What is a panty liner?

    Vaginal discharge is a very common and completely natural phenomenon. Some people use panty liners to protect their underwear from vaginal discharge and maintain a dry, fresh, and clean feeling throughout the day. Panty liners work best when changed every three to four hours. 

    A panty liner is a thin, absorbent pad worn in the gusset of underwear to absorb vaginal discharge or light menstrual flow. Panty liners are basically thin versions of pads used to prevent stains and keep underwear clean.

    Panty liners come in a variety of shapes, portability options, and sizes, from small, compact panty liners to large, protective panty liners created for heavy vaginal discharge and light period flow. Some styles of panty liners are designed to fit inside thongs. Disposable panty liners have a sticky adhesive so they can stay in place. Some designs have wings that wrap around the underwear, offering additional stability.

    Reusable cloth panty liners are also available and come in a range of different colors, sizes, materials, patterns, and absorbencies. These can be washed regularly and reused for a few years. Reusable panty liners are secured with wrap-around wings snapped together at the ends.

    What are panty liners for?

    The purpose of panty liners is to absorb everyday vaginal discharge, unexpected light period flow, light spotting, staining at the beginning and ends of periods, and post-intercourse discharge. Tampons, pads, and menstrual cups can be used with panty liners for extra protection. Some people find panty liners to be more flexible and comfortable than pads. 

    Vaginal discharge is normal and happens for a variety of reasons throughout the menstrual cycle (keeping the vagina lubricated, ovulation, and arousal, to name a few). Wearing a panty liner can be helpful for keeping underwear dry and free from stains. 

    Having panty liners on hand may be useful during puberty, as spotting and unanticipated periods can be frequent.

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    Benefits of panty liners

    The benefits of panty liners are:

    • Panty liners provide everyday protection from urine leakage, vaginal discharge, and unexpected periods.
    • Panty liners help keep moisture away.
    • Panty liners can be helpful for the last days of a period when there is still some light bleeding. A panty liner is useful when the flow is not heavy enough to use a tampon or a pad.
    • Panty liners can help keep underwear clean.
    • Panty liners can help with adult incontinence.
    • Panty liners can help with light postpartum flow, which can happen for a few weeks or sometimes months after childbirth.

    Are panty liners bad for you? Potential disadvantages

    Some important panty liner tips to keep in mind are:

    • Panty liners can be worn before or after periods, but they are not meant for heavy flows.
    • Panty liners can rub against the labia, possibly triggering redness, irritation, and itching.
    • Scented panty liners might contain chemicals that can irritate the sensitive tissues around the vagina.

    Both synthetic-fiber underwear and regular use of panty liners with an impermeable layer block air circulation to the reproductive organs and don’t allow sweat to evaporate. Experts recommend using breathable liners that don’t affect airflow and keep your clothes dry.

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    How to use panty liners: simple tips

    • Just like pads, panty liners can be worn inside underwear and have an adhesive strip on the bottom to keep them in place.
    • A panty liner should be placed vertically and wrapped and secured around the gusset of the underwear.
    • A panty liner should be immediately changed if it becomes excessively moist.
    • Avoid wearing panty liners at night. They need to be changed as often as possible to reduce the chances of infection.
    • Avoid wearing scented panty liners, as they can trigger itchiness and discomfort. Use unscented organic cotton products instead.
    • Panty liners can be used for postpartum bleeding, called lochia. Lochia lasts up to eight weeks after childbirth and is harmless.


    Farage, M. A., Enane, N. A., Baldwin, S., & Berg, R. W. (1997). Labial and vaginal microbiology: effects of extended panty liner use. Infectious diseases in obstetrics and gynecology, 5(3), 252-258.

    Farage, M., Bramante, M., Otaka, Y., & Sobel, J. (2007). Do panty liners promote vulvovaginal candidiasis or urinary tract infections? A review of the scientific evidence. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 132(1), 8-19.

    Giraldo, P. C., Amaral, R. L., Juliato, C., Eleutério, J., Brolazo, E., & Gonçalves, A. K. (2011).
    The effect of “breathable” panty liners on the female lower genital tract. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 115(1), 61-64.

    Pontes, A. C., Amaral, R. L., Giraldo, P. C., Beghini, J., Giraldo, H. P., & Cordeiro, E. S. (2014). A systematic review of the effect of daily panty liner use on the vulvovaginal environment. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 127(1), 1-5.

    Runeman, B., Rybo, G., Forsgren-Brusk, U., Larko, O., Larsson, P., & Faergemann, J. (2004). The vulvar skin microenvironment: influence of different panty liners on temperature, pH and microflora. Acta Dermato Venereologica, 84(4), 277-284.

    Tzeghai, G. E., Ajayi, F. O., Miller, K. W., Imbescheid, F., Sobel, J. D., & Farage, M. A. (2015). A Feminine care clinical research program transforms women’s lives. Global journal of health science, 7(4), 45.

    Williams, M. (1998). U.S. Patent No. 5,729,835. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    History of updates

    Current version (21 November 2021)

    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist

    Published (08 December 2018)

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