The debate over whether tampons or pads are better at providing complete protection and coverage has been an ongoing issue for years now, with no real clear end in sight. While one isn’t necessarily better than the other, it is helpful for women to know the pros and cons of both in order to make the best decision based on specific needs and preference.
Menstrual pads, also known as sanitary napkins, have been around for a long time and are still widely used by women of all ages. If it is your first time dealing with pads, it may take some getting used to, as well as trial and error to find just the right pad for your needs. With a strip of adhesive tape underneath, sanitary napkins stick to the underwear, holding the pad in place. These disposable pads are made of a combination of cotton, wool, and other highly absorptive materials.
There are various types of pads that you can purchase, depending on how heavy or light your flow is. If your cycle is heavy, thicker pads are ideal. Lighter cycles can benefit from using pads that are thin and small. These are often referred to as “panty liners.” For women who are active, there are pads that come with flexible “wings” on the sides that are designed to wrap around the underwear, which catches any spillage that may occur.
Pads can be changed as often as needed and can be worn overnight. The only drawback with pads is that they can still allow for accidents, especially if the blood flow is very heavy. Some women find pads to be uncomfortable and similar to wearing a diaper. They often complain that the pad does not move well when they walk and are a hindrance when it comes to doing physical activities. Sanitary napkins are not to be worn while swimming.
Tampons came onto the scene about 40 years after sanitary napkins were introduced to the public commercially. Tampons work as absorbable “plugs” that trap the blood flow by being inserted into the vagina. Like pads, tampons are disposable and should be changed every 4-8 hours. Never sleep with a tampon in overnight. One major setback with tampons deals with a rare, but deadly condition called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a bacterial infection that occurs when bacteria gathers in a moist and warm area – which superabsorbent tampons can create. One brand of tampons was directly linked with TSS and has been off the market since.
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With the advancement in technology, it is highly unlikely for tampons to cause TSS nowadays, although there is still a slight possibility. Many women prefer tampons to pads because they are easier to conceal, provide better protection, and allow a woman to swim and be as active as she pleases without being affected by a large and bulky pad. Tampons should only be worn while menstruating.
The main drawback for tampons involves insertion. For young girls, especially those who have not had sexual intercourse, inserting the tampon into the vagina can be difficult. Read the directions carefully and take your time. Some women complain that tampons are uncomfortable but for those who prefer them, tampons are simple, less hassle and easier to dispose of.