Sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups
Some women think sanitary pads are handier, others prefer to use tampons during their period and there are people who prefer menstrual cups. What’s your choice?
Try it out
Try out different kinds and sizes. You can also alternate between the two. Tampons are handy for example when you’re swimming or exercising, while sanitary pads are more practical at night.
A sanitary pad (also called sanitary towel) is a strip of padding which you place in your panties. It has adhesive strips to keep it in place. Sanitary pads come in various thicknesses and shapes. There are also panty liners, a kind of thin sanitary pad. You often use these at the start or end of your period, when you’re not losing much blood.
Don’t use panty liners when you’re not having your period: you then risk the chance of a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
A tampon is a stick of compressed cotton wool the size of your thumb, with a string attached. A tampon goes in your vagina. Tampons come in various sizes. Use a smaller tampon at the beginning and end of your period, and a larger one in the middle. Try them out to find out what works best and is most comfortable.
Using a tampon does not mean you ‘lose your virginity’. The hymen/ vaginal corona only partially covers the vagina opening, so it doesn’t get ‘pierced’ by a tampon. A tampon will always go through the opening.
Practicing with tampons
If you want to use tampons, you should practice with them first. Lift one leg up, perhaps put it on the toilet seat. Relax and slowly push the tampon into your vagina, leaving the string outside. Push the tampon in as far as possible. If the tampon is fitted properly, you will not feel it. You can remove the tampon by pulling slowly on the string.
A menstrual cup is made of a soft synthetic material. You insert it into your vagina, just like a tampon. The cup is flexible and takes on the shape of your vagina. That’s why you hardly feel it. The rubber stem makes it easier for you to remove the cup from your vagina.
A cup collects a maximum of 30 ml of blood. That’s more than the average amount of blood that women lose on a day when they have their period.
Take the cup out every 12 hours, or more often if you prefer. After removing it from the vagina, empty the cup, rinse it with water and reinsert. There are different kinds and sizes available. Consult your doctor if you need more advice on your cup size.
Practicing with cups
It’s best to practice when you don’t have your period. That’s because the cup is easier to remove when there’s no menstrual blood in it.
Before you insert the cup, fold it between 2 fingers. There are different ways to fold a cup and different ways of putting it in. Once you’ve inserted the cup into your vagina, you shouldn’t feel any folds at the edges. Then you know you’ve put it in properly.
Tips for cup use
- Are you using a cup for the first time? Then do it in an environment where you feel comfortable. A place where it’s easy for you to check whether your cup is still in the right position.
- Are you out and about for the first time since you started using cups? Then take a sanitary pad with you too, just in case.
You develop breasts during puberty. This could start in a girl of 8, but also in a girl of 14. Age varies for all girls.
During puberty, a girl has her first period. For about 5 days, some blood, mixed with mucus, flows from your vagina. You can use tampons, sanitary pads or cups to soak up the blood and mucus.