Menstruation is when women use tampons for five days every month. This statement appears correct in the first look, doesn’t it?
However, the menstrual cycle length is usually between 24 to 38 days. Menstruation can last from 2 days up to a week, and besides cisgender women, trans men, intersex, genderqueer or nonbinary can also have periods. So, there is no normal period as different people have different normals. There is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to menstrual products. Some trial and error are required to find which products meet your menstruation needs.
Tampons are not the only menstruation products as disposable sanitary pads, menstrual cups, reusable sanitary pads, and period underwear are also used by people who menstruate across the globe.
One usually experiences heavy flow during the first two days of menstruation and the light flow is typically experienced during the next three to five days.
Menstruation products recommended for heavy flow days (typically first two days):
- Period Pads: It is recommended to use period pads when experiencing heavy flow as they are quite efficient in absorbing. You might want to try cotton sanitary pads that are infused with hemp-derived CBD if you experience severe period pain and abdominal cramps. Since period pads are non-invasive unlike tampons that are inserted into your body, it does not disturb the natural pH levels of your vaginal cavity. The risk of infections associated with using period pads are also significantly less.
If you are looking for a sustainable option, you might want to try reusable period pads. Besides bringing the expenses down significantly, reusable menstrual pads are also good for the environment. However, some might find the storage and maintenance of these pads to be inconvenient.
- Menstrual Cups: Another great option for those who wish to lower their carbon footprint, menstrual cups are reusable and highly sustainable. Made from silicon, a menstrual cup can be used for several years. If you are going to try one for the first time, you might want to do it on a day when you are planning to stay at home. Using a menstrual cup takes learning to use and getting adjusted to it. Once you perfect it, a menstrual cup can even last a full workday on a heavy flow day.
It might not be a fit for those who find inserting a foreign body inside the vagina uncomfortable for hours at a time.
Menstruation products recommended for light flow days (usually day three onwards):
- Tampons: Tampons are the most popular menstrual hygiene product in the western world, especially during days with a light flow. Some users find tampons to be uncomfortable as they rest inside the vaginal canal the whole time. Also, tampons may absorb the natural lubricant and bacteria of the vagina besides absorbing the intended menstrual flow. Being a foreign body, a tampon may disrupt the pH balance of the vagina and cause discomfort and irritation. Some users also don’t like tampons as it requires internal insertion. In certain conservative countries, the myth that using tampons will break their hymen is prevalent. The hymen is intertwined with the virginity of unmarried girls. Hence the use of tampons is not common in such countries.
Toxic Shock Syndrome or TSS is also a huge concern that works against tampons. It is a rare condition that happens due to the overgrowth of naturally occurring bacteria in women’s vaginas.
- Period Underwear: A relatively new concept, period undies are designed with multiple layers of moisture-wicking microfiber polyester that keeps the flow from leaking into your clothes and skin. These underwear are reusable and may last up to two years with proper maintenance. It is suited for light flow days. Period undies might be less absorbent but can come in handy if you club it with a sanitary pad as an extra layer of protection for backup.
In conclusion, it is not necessarily optimal to stick to one of these products as each of them has its own utility. The ease of use, your lifestyle, cost considerations, sustainability preferences, reliability, time efficiency also play a role in selecting a menstrual product besides the flow volume and day of menstruation. Try different menstrual products to support flow on different days.