Types of Period Products

By: Anika In't Hout

Whether you recently got your first period or Aunt Flo has been around for a while, it’s no secret that periods can sometimes get messy. That’s where period products come in. Most people think that tampons and pads are the only types of period products, but that’s actually not the case. Here are four types of period products you can try, how to wear them, and the pros and cons of each. 

Types of period products: pads, tampons, menstrual cups and period underwear

Pads

Sanitary pads are things like sanitary napkins, panty liners or pads that go inside your underwear. They often look like colourful squares in the package and white sticky hourglass-shaped pads when you use them. They come in different sizes (maxi, super, overnight, etc.) and are made with an absorbent material that helps catch period blood. 

How to wear them: You take off the wrapper and stick them to the inside of your underwear. Sometimes they have sticky wings too that you fold over the edges of your underwear that help keep the pad in place. After a few hours or when it’s covered in blood, change the pad by taking it off, rolling it in toilet paper and throwing it NOT in the toilet, but in the trash can or that disposal box that you see in many public bathrooms.  

Pros: If you’re having a heavy period or just naturally have a heavier flow, pads are great to catch leaks and make you feel more comfortable. 

Cons: They sometimes feel heavy or bulky. Also, pads aren’t always cheap and as you have to replace them every few hours, it can really add up. 

Our advice? Try out different sizes of pads to see what works for you. When figuring it out, look for a pad that is big enough so you aren’t leaking through your panties, but is small enough that you feel comfortable. 

Tampons

Tampons are definitely one of the more popular period product options. They often come in plastic or cardboard tube applicators but are soft and white with a small string on the inside. Like pads, they come in different sizes, but unlike pads, they aren’t placed on your underwear but inserted into your vagina to absorb the blood.    

How to wear them: You take off the lining wrapper and use your fingers to stick the larger part of the plastic or cardboard tube applicator into your vagina. Once it feels like it is in all the way, push on the smaller part of the applicator to push the absorbent soft white tampon into the vagina. Then pull out the applicator of the tampon and either put the applicator back in the lining wrapper or in toilet paper before throwing it in the trash or disposal bin. After a few hours or once it feels like it’s been soaked through, use the string to pull the tampon out. 

Pros: You often can’t feel that it’s there which makes it easy to swim, play sports or do other activities you love.

Cons: Like pads, tampons aren’t always cheap. Also, you need to make sure that you’re changing it every 4-8 hours because keeping it for longer than that has led to women developing toxic shock syndrome so please be careful! 

Our advice? Don’t get discouraged if you have a hard time getting them in on the first try. It takes practice. Also, when you go to insert a tampon in your vagina, try going on an angle instead of straight up. Trust us, it’s less painful that way. 

Menstrual cups 

Menstrual cups are one of the newer period products out there. Menstrual cups don’t come in large packs, but rather a small box of one or two and look like colourful rubber funnels. These cups are usually made of rubber or silicone and only come in one or two sizes. Rather than a tampon or pad that absorbs the blood, a menstrual cup grabs before it can leave the vagina.

How to wear them: To get it in, fold it in half and hold it in one hand with the rim facing up. Next, insert the cup (rim still facing up) and once it’s in, rotate it. Once inside, the menstrual cup will pop up, creating a seal that stops the blood from leaking out. To get it out, use your fingers to gently pull the bottom stem of the cup until you reach the main body of the cup. Then, pinch the cup to release the seal and pull it down. Once you get it out, empty it in the toilet, wash it, wipe it clean, and put it back in.   

Pros: Menstrual cups are great because, unlike tampons or pads, they are reusable, save money, create less waste and don’t have to be changed as often (every 6-12 hours vs. 4-6 hours with a tampon). Plus, like tampons, when inserted correctly, you won’t even feel it, letting you do your everyday activities

Cons: The starting cost for a menstrual cup is usually pretty expensive. Also, if you’re prone to heavy flows, a menstrual cup might not be enough. Plus, sometimes it can be messy.  

Our advice? Before inserting your menstrual cup, wet it around the rim with water. It makes it way easier.  

Period underwear

Like menstrual cups, period underwear is one of the newer period products on the market. Period underwear isn’t usually something you can find at a lingerie store or a pharmacy, so your best bet is to order it online. Period underwear is almost like normal underwear, except that it comes with another layer that prevents blood from soaking through. 

How to wear them: Instead of putting on regular underwear, put them on. Simple as that. 

Pros: No more stained underwear! Yay! Plus, you don’t have to worry about spending lots of money or frantically stressing if you run out. 

Cons: If you have a heavier flow, period panties might not be enough on their own. You might need to wear a tampon or menstrual cup too. Plus, it’s more work when it comes to laundry. 

Our advice? Start wearing them when you have a lighter flow or with another period product (i.e. tampon, pad) before you graduate to wearing them on their own. 

The truth is, there are pros and cons to each type of period product. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you like and what works for you. Have any other questions about periods? Let us know in our contact form or DM us on Instagram