Tampons and pads are the two most popular ways to deal with period blood in modern times. This is because both products work really well for their purpose. However, the age-old question is, which one is better? Keep reading to find a breakdown of the pros and cons of each and you can decide which you think is better!
A tampon is a small, cylindrical bundle of cotton, rayon, or a blend of the two. Tampons are inserted into your vagina either using an applicator or your fingers. While inside, the tampon absorbs menstrual blood before it gets the chance to leak out of your body.
Pros of Tampons
It offers invisible protection. If inserted properly, your tampon can go virtually unnoticed aside from a small string that will help you to remove it. Not only will you not see the tampon but proper insertion will allow you to not feel it either. This will allow you to feel more comfortable and clean during your cycle.
You can be comfortably active. Swimming is the most common activity that tampons are popular for. However, you can partake in any sporting or other on the move activity without worrying about it shifting around. Once tampons are inserted they are unlikely to be moved unless you pull it out.
It can be stored discreetly. Not only are tampons invisible when you insert them, but their small size allows you to easily carry them around. You can store them in your bag or pocket and carry them around during your cycle or in case you or a friend has an unwanted surprise while out.
Cons of Tampons
Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): TSS may be the most talked-about risk associated with wearing tampons. TSS is a rare but life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the normal bacteria in your system releases toxins. Possible symptoms include a sudden, high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle aches and, in some cases, seizures. Wearing your tampon for a longer period than recommended puts you at great risk of contracting TSS and other bacterial infections. You may alternate between tampons and pads, based on your flow, to reduce your risk of TSS.
They may irritate and dry out your vagina. Tampons are made to absorb your menstrual blood from the inside. However, if you do not choose the right absorbency level for your flow your tampon may also absorb some of your vagina's natural moisture. This may cause dryness, irritation and/or itchiness.
They may be hard to use. Tampons may be harder to use than other period products especially if you are using them for the first time. Following the instructions on the box is the easiest way to apply a tampon, many also come with applicators. However, some may still find it a bit more difficult to use compared to other products.
A menstrual pad is made up of absorbent material featuring a mix of cotton and rayon. Pads come in various sizes to match your flow and comfort level; they may be thin or thick or long or short. They are made to be placed along the lining of your underwear and most period pads today come with ‘wings’ that you flap under to hold it in place.
Pros of Pads
They are easily worn. The instructions on how to use a pad are pretty easy and foolproof. Making them a convenient option for many. Additionally, if you are just beginning your menstrual cycle pads will be a great first product for you to use.
They are great for overnight use. With little to no risk of TSS, pads are great for overnight use as you won't need to get up to ensure you change it before you hit 8 hours.
They are good for heavy flows. If you do have a heavy flow you may experience leaks with your tampon. Unlike tampons, pads allow you to easily see when your product needs changing. A good rule is to change your pad every 3-4 hours but if your flow is heavier, you may have to change more often. Pads are much easier to change more frequently than other period products.
Cons of Pads
They are bulky. Unlike tampons, pads are harder to hide. While there is no shame in being on your menstrual cycle, having your period products showing may make you self conscious. Pads may also show under certain tight clothing and cannot be worn with some panties like thongs or G-string. They may also be less discreet to store in your purse or pocket.
They may be uncomfortable. Because they are worn outside your body and catch the blood as it exits you, it may be a bit uncomfortable to wear pads throughout the day. Some women complain about the constant ‘wet’ feeling and being overly conscious of leaks.
They may be easily moved and cause leaks. Everyday movements can cause pads to shift out of place. They become rolled up or even shifted out of place causing leaks to happen. Leaks may also happen if you wear a pad that may be too small or thin for your flow.
Ultimately, personal preference will determine which of the two is better. Your right choice will be determined by the protection you need based on your flow. You may also find one to be better for different situations rather than exclusively wearing one or the other. Some may even wear both tampons and pads for double the protection! Or you may opt to wear neither. If you do want to try different period products, menstrual cups, menstrual discs and period absorbent panties are among your alternative options. Period products are certainly not one size fits all!
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