So, it’s that time of the month, and even though you really only lose about 4-6 tablespoons of blood during your period, it can seem like a never-ending crimson tide. That said, we want you to be able to handle your period without becoming the main character in an epicly embarrassing story. (Red stains on your gym shorts? Been there. Not fun.)
Pads and tampons are your most obvious options when it comes to protection, but there are a couple more that you might know about and want to consider, too. Here’s the 411 on all the products you could be using.
Read it, then decide what’s best for you!
Pads (or, as your grandma calls them, Sanitary Napkins)
Pads are made of absorbent material and stick onto the inside of your underwear, like an extra lining. If they sound like a diaper, we swear they’re not. There are tons of different pad options out there – you can buy really long ones, or shorter ones, and companies now make them super thin. Obviously, if you’ve got a heavy period, go for the ones marked “heavy,” regular is “regular,” and if it’s really, really light? Panty liners are tiny and you can barely even feel you’re wearing them.
Pads might be a little bit uncomfortable at times, but they can also be worn for longer than a tampon, and there’s no risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome (more on that later). They’re super easy to use, and if you’re not comfortable sticking something into your body down there, these are the perfect option. Just please don’t wear them when you go swimming: trust us on this one!
Tampons are essentially tubes of cotton that you insert into your vagina to absorb your flow. Sometimes tampons feel a little strange when you first use them or first insert them, but most girls get used to them really fast and soon can’t feel them at all. And if anybody tells you that you can lose your virginity by using a tampon? They’re full of it. You can only lose your V-card by having sex, and um, inserting a tampon isn’t sex!
If you’re comfortable inserting a tampon, go for it! You can swim with a tampon on (super helpful for the summertime) and they’re easy to dispose of. Just like pads, they come in a variety of sizes depending on your flow: usually light, regular or super. Oh, and using a super tampon doesn’t mean anything other than a heavy flow. It doesn’t like, have a cape or anything!
If tampons are your thing, just make sure you’re changing them at least once every eight hours. If you keep them in too long, you risk getting Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS is rare, but it’s potentially fatal and can happen quickly. Even without the threat of TSS, tampons can’t hold as much of your flow as a pad can, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on it.
Do these sound like basically the same thing as a regular pad? Well, that’s because they kind of are, except cloth pads are environmentally friendly and reusable. It might sound gross at first, but it’s perfectly sanitary and a totally healthy option. Cloth pads are actually cheaper than regular ones, since you don’t have to buy them as frequently, and they’re allergen, chemical and perfume-free. You can choose from a variety of sizes, just like disposable pads.
The only downside to cloth pads is that washing them takes some time, and is kind of icky if you don’t like blood. Also, you’re less likely to find them in stores than disposable pads. But if you’re looking for a way to be good to the Earth, these are a great choice.
It might sound like an ancient idea, but it really isn’t. A menstrual cup is a disposable or reusable, small bell-like cup that gets inserted into your vagina to catch menstrual flow. It’s worn just like a diaphragm (sitting over the cervix) and it’s flexible.
Menstrual cups can be worn while you’re having sex and they don’t have any risk of TSS. The only thing with these is that they can be messy: removing them and inserting them without spilling might take a while to nail down. Also, while reusable ones last for ten years, they’re pretty expensive.
If You’re Not Getting Your Period:
If you’re well into puberty, and you haven’t gotten your first period yet; or if you stopped getting your period out of no where there could be a few reasons why. Some girls naturally just bleed way less than other girls, so they don’t even really notice their period, and that’s totally normal, but generally, not getting your period means something’s wrong. Girls who are underweight, which is unhealthy, won’t get their period because their body is too malnourished. Excessive exercise can also cause your period to stop.
Missing your period could also be because your pregnant or because you’re under way too much stress. If you’ve stopped getting your period, or you haven’t gotten it yet, go see your doctor. She’ll get you sorted out in no time.
Which period option are you using? Let us know in the comments.