In November 2022, a group of Australia's biggest unions banded together to address the issues caused by menstruation and menopause in the workplace. The result, was a proposed policy for paid menstrual and menopause leave to be included in the Fair Work Act. With 50 per cent of the world's population experiencing menstruation at some point in their lives, the proposed policy offered a beacon of hope towards a more modernised and tailored approach here in Australia, and a shift away from the 'shameful' narrative that is often associated with people who experience periods.
Periods – and the pain, discomfort and general anxiety that are often symptomatic of the experience – continue to be a barrier for people of all ages in almost every aspect of life. In the sphere of sport and movement, teens and adults alike continue to struggle physically, emotionally and mentally, juggling performance with the lack of support through movement. It only feels natural then, that sports and performance wear should be the next space where athletes of all levels should have the security they deserve, and now, Nike have entered the conversation, announcing the launch of Nike Leak Protection.
The new innovation, which is part of the brand's commitment to her* in 2023, is an ultrathin, absorbent liner that helps protect against period leaks to provide extra comfort and confidence. Undergoing 30 different prototypes during the innovation and testing stage, the added protection garment has been designed to be worn in addition to a tampon, pad or cup; meaning you can move for longer with confidence.
How does Nike Leak Protection work?
Nike Leak Protection was created by combining a two-layer laminate gusset and liner that absorbs, wicks and holds blood with a membrane that acts as an anti-leakage barrier. Built into the silhouette of the iconic Nike One Period Short as the first iteration of the collection, the garment has a supportive 7-inch inseam and invisible built-in brief. The shorts feature a wider waistband, which helps provide extra comfort during cramping and bloating, and the built-in-brief was actually designed using 3D digital tool to create a brief shape that aligns its edges with the contours and flexion points of the body.
During a recent visit to Nike HQ, I experienced the technology in real time, during a demonstration with Senior Apparel Innovation Project Manager, Lisa Gibson. "We know periods are a barrier in sport, and this innovation really embodies the product team's future where menstruation is celebrated and not shamed," Gibson shared.
"This project first started back in 2019, and it all kicked off with the Teen Girl Insights Work. From that, we learned that by age 14, girls are dropping out of sport at twice the rate of boys, and by age 17, 51 per cent will have quit sport. We know periods aren't the only reason for this drop off, but it is what we consider a critical component of the drop out formula," she continued.
"We knew we had to create a product that was going to keep people in sport, but this technology is going to be more game-changing than we had anticipated. For the Trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming communities, this has the potential to be a mental health aid. Fear of bleed through is real, and for this community it can be a highly-traumatising experience that exacerbates the feeling of gender dysphoria. The Leak Protection technology is for all people who menstruate, across all life stages."
When can you get your hands on the Nike Leak Protection shorts?
Nike Leak Protection: Period will debut in a professional sphere on the pitch, during the highly-anticipated FIFA Women's World Cup for Nike's 13 federation partners, but will be available in store early April at nike.com and select specialty stores, ranging from sizes XS-4XL.