For Girls: Which Menstrual Products Should I Use and When?

Start with pads

There’s a lot to adjust to when you first start your period. So, it’s probably easiest for you to begin using pads since having a period is a big life change. A pad is an oblong-shaped cotton insert with sticky backing and you place it in your underwear. You should change pads as often as you need to according to your flow. But don’t wear a pad for longer than 6 hours. That way you’ll avoid odors due to bacteria that forms in your blood.

What about tampons?

Tampons are a cotton plug you insert in your vagina and most have an applicator that makes insertion easier. Tampons have a string that you leave outside your vagina so that you can remove the tampon later. A lot of women find that tampons feel more sanitary. Tampons are also great to wear when swimming or during athletic activity.

If you’re wearing a tampon, you should change it as often as you need to or every 3-5 hours. It’s very important to change tampons more frequently to avoid a condition called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which is potentially deadly. Another way to avoid TSS  is to use the appropriate tampon absorbency based on your flow. In other words, don’t use a super absorbent tampon when your flow is light.

Using tampons can be a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of them, it’s not a big deal. And whether you decide to use tampons or pads, you’ll want to get products with varying levels of absorbency so that you can use what you need based on your flow.

Or menstrual cups?

Menstrual cups are another product some women use to collect blood. These are a silicone cup that you insert in your vagina entirely. Menstrual cups are a convenient option because you can usually leave them in for longer than a tampon and the cups have more capacity for collecting blood. They’re also environmentally-friendly since you can reuse them, provided you clean them properly, for a long time.

But menstrual cups are definitely more of an expert level period product. So, try tampons before you graduate to this option. If and when you want to try a menstrual cup, talk to your parents about moving to that next step.