Which Menstrual Product is Right for You?

When I first got my period in seventh grade my mom was out of town at a funeral and my dad had to find some menstrual products for me to use, which was a challenge since my mom hadn’t needed to use any in years. He gave me some dusty tampons and pads, so of course, I had to sit on the toilet and google how to use my expired tampon and pad. Later that day my dad took me to Walgreens and sent me in with a twenty to buy something that wasn’t expired. I sat there for ten minutes crying on the phone with my mom because I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know what to buy. 

A lot has changed since my first period and a lot of new menstrual products are on the market now, which as amazing as that is, it also makes it a lot harder to decide what you’re going to use. Here's a rundown on the different menstrual products so that you can find the right one for you. 

  1. 1. For the beginners: Sanitary Pads

    Box and pads

    Pads are the easiest product to use and they’re self-explanatory. They come in different sizes and absorbency, with wings and without. These are the best option if you are uncomfortable inserting anything into yourself, they also don’t have to be changed as much as tampons or panty liners might, plus you can now buy reusable pads. The disadvantage to pads is that some women find them uncomfortable or like they’re wearing a diaper, or the pad could shift and be ineffective. These also aren’t something to wear when you’re working out.

  2. 2. For the light flows: Pantyliners 

    Pads

    Pantyliners are just like pads, except they’re small and slim. This is great if you have a light flow or are spotting before or after your period. They aren’t as absorbent as pads, so if you typically have a heavy flow this isn’t recommended unless you’re only spotting. Liners are also great in the case of wanting extra protection with tampons or menstrual cups. 

  3. 3. For the athlete: Tampons

    Tampons

    Tampons are the most popular choice of protection for young women because there is so much physical freedom and they’re so discrete. They are also offered in various sizes and absorbencies, but no matter what they have to be changed every four to eight hours depending on your flow to prevent toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Even when wearing tampons some women still wear a pad or pantyliner for extra protection. It is also hard to sleep in a tampon because you have to remember to get up throughout the night to change it so you don’t leak or get TSS. If you have an active lifestyle then this is a great option.

  4. 4. For the heavy flows: Menstrual Cups

    Sweatpants Against A Wall

    An eco-friendly choice that lasts up to 12 hours without being changed. If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty or if you have heavy flows this will be your best friend. It takes some time to get used to inserting and emptying your cup without making a mess so most brands recommend inserting and removing the cup in the shower to prevent a mess and to get used to the process. To clean between cycles all you have to do is boil the cup for five minutes. The drawback is that even with practice it can be difficult to insert and remove the cup, but the more you do it the more you get used to it and the easier it becomes. 

  5. 5. For the risk-taker: Period Panties

    going braless

    Now you don’t even have to buy anything extra for your period because period panties are now a thing, just another eco-friendly choice. Different models of period panties hold up to different amounts between two to four tampons’ worth of liquid. These are also great as backup leak protection if you use a tampon, or they’re great if you just want to hit the gym but you normally wear pads. The drawback is that if you wear them all day you’ll be changing your panties a lot, even in public, and you’ll have to do a new load of laundry every night just to wear them the next day. But if your flow is light and you don’t like carrying around extra pads or tampons this is a great alternative to typical menstrual products. 

No matter what product you use it’s important to know your period and understand your body. If you’re still unsure about trying a menstrual cup or can’t figure out how to insert a tampon without hurting yourself, talk to an OB/GYN and don’t be afraid to use Google. As always, practice proper hygiene when using any menstrual products by washing your hands thoroughly before and after using them and cleaning your menstrual cup and period panties properly.