Period Products: Choosing the Right One for You

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Calling all active uterus owners, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that chances are you’ve experienced a period (or menstrual cycle) before. Wow, aren’t we lucky? At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy I’m going to say, “Let’s get real.” The average modern day female is going to go through approximately 450 periods, which is plenty of time to experiment to see what period options and products work for you, and a lot of periods using something that might not be the best fit for you (not to mention a lot of money spent). 

For reference on AVERAGE women lose about 2 – 4 Tablespoons (30 – 60 mL) of blood across 3-7 days during her period. Here are the 5 main period options on the market, and some features of each if you find yourself wanting to branch out 😊

period options - Splendry

Popular Period Options

1. Tampons

  • Can you swim with them: Yes
  • Easy to Use: Yes
  • Easy/Clean to remove: Relatively easy to remove, and it is usually possible to not get blood on your hands while doing it. 
  • Comfortable: If inserted properly Tampons are usually comfortable, however they can shift or move. 
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): If left for longer than 7 – 8 hours it is possible to develop TSS, so if you are getting 8+ hours of sleep (lucky you) then you should not sleep with tampons in. 
  • How much Space They Take Up in the Purse: Fairly little, if you buy Tampons with applicators that extend and click into place then they take up even less. 
  • How Much they Absorb: Light Tampons absorb about 5 mL of blood with Ultra Absorbency Tampons absorbing around 13 – 16 mL of blood. 
  • When can I use it: Tampons should not be used on the last “light” days of your period as they can become painful to remove when the vaginal walls are drier and there is less blood. 
  • With Birth Control: Can be used with Birth Control, although they may interfere with Vaginal Rings. 
  • Cost: You can buy Tampons for about the same price as Disposable pads, although in the long term they will be more expensive than reusable options.  

2. Disposable Pads

period options- Splendry

  • Can you swim with them: No
  • Easy to Use: Yes
  • Easy/Clean to Remove: Easy to remove cleanly, although the sound of the adhesive coming off the underwear is not very discreet. 
  • Comfortable: Can become sticky or uncomfortable. 
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): Since TSS is a bacterial infection it is technically possible to get TSS while using pads, but much less likely than Tampons if you forget to remove them on time. 
  • How much Space They Take Up in the Purse: Large pads for heavy days are not very discreet and tend to take up a lot of space while packing. 
  • How Much they Absorb: Disposable Pads absorb anywhere between 2 – 20 mL of blood, and their ratings match Tampon absorbency fairly well. 
  • When Can I Use it: You can use Disposable Pads at any stage during your period, although it may be more comfortable to switch to pantyliners during the lightest days. 
  • With Birth Control: Can be used with Birth Control.
  • Cost: You can buy disposable pads for about the same price as tampons, although in the long term they will be more expensive than reusable options.  

3. Menstrual Discs

  • Can you swim with them: Yes
  • Easy to Use: Medium difficultly in the beginning, but the outer edge is flexible and can be squished down to the same diameter as a tampon. The main issue is positioning it correctly. 
  • Easy/Clean to Remove: Easy to remove after practice, although not always clean. 
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): Menstrual Discs are not linked to TSS although it is recommended you replace them at least every 12 hours. 
  • How much space They Take Up in the Purse: Very little space, and because they can be worn for a long time you don’t need to keep many with you. 
  • How Much they Absorb: Menstrual Discs absorb up to about 30 mL of blood. 
  • When Can I Use it: you can use a menstrual disc at any point during our cycle. 
  • With Birth Control: Yes, although some prefer not to use it with IUDs since depending on the specific IUD and person it can increase the risk of expulsion and larger cups can interfere with Vaginal Rings. 
  • Cost: The most expensive of the disposable period products the extra price is for the reduced risk of TSS, discrete size, utility, and ability to keep in for longer periods of time. 
  • Pro-tip: Due to Menstrual Discs’ position past the vaginal canal it is possible to have sex (without the blood) during your period while using them. 

4. Re-usable Pads and Period Panties

period options - Splendry

  • Can you swim with them: No
  • Easy to Use: Yes
  • Easy/Clean to Remove: Easy to remove, but you do have to clean them later  
  • Comfortable: More comfortable than Disposable pads since they are made of cloth, but still slightly clunky. 
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): TSS is a bacterial infection so cleaning products that are regularly near a mucus membrane like the vagina is always advisable but they are not linked to TSS like Tampons or Menstrual Cups. 
  • How much space They Take Up in the Purse: They take up quite a bit of space just like regular pads, although many fold and can be disguised as other things making them slightly more discreet. 
  • How Much they Absorb: Similar to Disposable pads they absorb anywhere between 2-20 mL of blood with a variety of brands. 
  • When Can I Use it: You can use Re-usable Pads and Period Panties at any stage during your period, and there are several different absorbencies depending on what stage you are in your period. 
  • With Birth Control: Can be Used with Birth Control. 
  • Cost: Depending on how often you want to clean them you will need more or fewer pads. The initial cost is rather high (A single pad can be $20), however they last a long time. 

5. Menstrual Cups

  • Can you swim with them: Yes
  • Easy to Use: Medium difficulty (especially in the beginning), but afterwards most long term users say it is easy as the cup is flexible and will not be much more difficult than a tampon
  • Comfortable: Much like tampons this will depend upon the person, and if they need to adjust it if it comes out of position often. However, unlike tampons, there are a huge variety of models of Menstrual cups for differently shaped and sized Vaginas that can make them much more comfortable or a better fit whether you’ve given birth, have a low/high cervix, etc. 
  • Easy/Clean to Remove: Very hit or miss, some people say that after 3 – 4 periods they are able to cleanly and easily remove and empty Menstrual Cups, but some say that though the process does get easier it remains messy. 
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): There have been cases of TSS with Menstrual Cups, but just like tampons those were cases of improper use. Keep in mind that because Menstrual cups are re-usable they should be thoroughly cleaned in between periods. It is recommended you empty your Menstrual Cup at least every 12 hours. 
  • How much space They Take Up in the Purse: Not much. 
  • How Much they Absorb: The largest cups can absorb up to 40 mL, but you should not leave in a menstrual cup in for the duration of your period.
  • When Can I Use it: You can use a menstrual cup at any point during your cycle, and they should be easy to remove even when you have a lighter flow, unlike tampons. 
  • With Birth Control: Yes, although some prefer not to use it with IUDs since depending on the specific IUD and person it can increase the risk of expulsion and larger cups can interfere with Vaginal Rings. 
  • Cost: Very affordable, and you don’t need to buy as many Menstrual Cups as pads.
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Shea Li

Shea Li

Shea Li is a student who has 2 horses, 2 dogs, 1 sugar glider, and a huge love of animals. She writes, rides a little, watches movies, plays League of Legends, and spends way too much time thinking about philosophy she doesn't understand.

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