By Ugochi Obiajunwa
This is obviously for the ladies! While on your period, the thing of prime importance is to stay clean, comfortable, and confident. And this is possible, thanks to various feminine hygiene products which have made women’s lives easy!
They are widely classified as external and internal products and are chosen according to comfort levels. External products such as sanitary pads and panty liners are stuck to the crotch of the underpants. They absorb the menstrual blood that flows out of the body. Internal products like tampons and menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina, which either absorb or collect the menstrual blood before it flows out of the body.
Below is the detailed explanation on the various feminine hygiene products and their importance.
- Sanitary Pads And Panty Liners
Sanitary pads come in various sizes, thickness, and absorbency limits. It is advised that you choose at least two types of pads, one for the heavy-flow days and other for the days when the flow is less. It is advisable that you change the pads every 3–4 hours, not exceeding 6 hours irrespective of the amount of flow. Not changing it often would cause bacterial growth due to dampness, leading to foul smell. It could also lead to skin rashes, urinary tract infections, and vaginitis.
Panty liners on the hand are thin and small sanitary pads meant for light flow days or when there is spotting. They do not soak up much of the blood and should be avoided during heavy-flow days. They are also used to soak up white or yellowish discharge during ovulation and post intercourse discharge. Like sanitary pads, even panty liners have to be changed every 6 hours.
- Cloth Pads
Washable cloth pads are traditional menstrual hygiene products which women have been using for centuries. Unlike regular sanitary pads which are disposable, cloth pads are reusable after washing them thoroughly. They are comparatively less irritating than regular pads since they are made out of cotton. Therefore, women with sensitive skin can opt for this (Preferring organic cotton over normally grown ones is further advantageous). They are eco-friendly and are not as messy as you think, since they can be washed easily in the washing machine.
Tampons are inserted into the vagina to absorb the menstrual blood even before it leaves your body. They are tube-like objects made of cotton and rayon, with a string attached to one of their ends. This string helps you remove the tampon after use. They mainly come with a plastic or cardboard applicator that helps insert the tampon and does not necessitate the use of fingers.
Available in light, regular, and super thickness, they can be chosen according to your menstrual flow. They are easy to carry and widely preferred by women who are into sports like swimming.
It is necessary that you change the tampons every 4–6 hours and wear them only on heavy-flow days. Wearing them on light-flow days or when spotting could absorb the vaginal fluids and disturb the microbial balance, leading to infections. It is also advisable that you insert a new one before going to bed and dispose of as soon as you get up. Using the same tampon for more than 8 hours could cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), due to bacteria.
- Menstrual Cups
Unlike other products discussed till now, menstrual cups do not absorb the menstrual blood but collect it. They are soft and small cups which can be inserted into the vagina, a few inches below the cervix, to hold the menstrual blood. After using them for around 8–12 hours (depending on your flow), you can remove them, empty the cup, wash, and reinsert.
They come in various sizes and types which are made using different products like latex, medical-grade silicone, or latex-resistant materials. Although the method of insertion seems complicated, using it twice or thrice should make you comfortable using it. It is more hygienic than other products and can be used for longer times. Most women have shown improved vaginal health and reduced cramps after using these cups.
- Sea Sponge
This is extracted from the seabed and treated with hydrogen peroxide, a sea sponge is free of any other chemicals. It needs to be soaked in water, squeezed thoroughly and then inserted into the vagina, helping soak up the menstrual blood. It is reusable and has to be rinsed every 3–4 hours irrespective of the flow. One sea sponge can be reused for as long as 6 months, given, it is not torn and is rinsed thoroughly after every use. Like tampons, sea sponges also have the risk of causing toxic shock syndrome.
- Reusable Period Panties
Reusable period panties are similar to underpants but with the crotch area 4–5 times thicker, embedded with an absorbent material within. This soaks the blood and is mostly preferred by women who do not like to use to tampons or pads. They can be washed and reused and hence are eco-friendly.
There are a lot of sources available which throw light on the correct methods of using different products. All products have their own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, a product that works best for you could be claimed as the perfect product.