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How do I Choose Between Tampon and Pads?

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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Tampons and pads are the most commonly used menstrual products. The choice between tampons and pads is a personal one but there are some advantages and disadvantages to both. Tampons are more discreet and comfortable but carry a slight risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Pads, also known as sanitary napkins, carry no such risk but tend to be bulkier and inconvenient. As they are non-biodegradable, their use is not environmentally friendly.

For their first period or experience with menstruation, most young girls prefer to use pads, as they tend to be bit more user-friendly. They are available in many sizes and types and they stick onto the inside of the underwear. Some of them have extra wings on the sides, which keep the pad even more firmly in place. Pads can be changed as needed and this depends on the heaviness of the blood flow, but a general rule of thumb is to change them every four hours or so. This will ensure odor free protection, with odor being one of the disadvantages of using pads.

The biggest disadvantage is the disposal of pads. They should be wrapped in toilet paper and placed in the trash if there is no special disposal box. Flushing pads down the toilet should not be done, as they tend to block the drains and cause a lot of problems.

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A major difference between tampons and pads is that tampons are much more convenient once the use of them has been mastered. It is not difficult but may be a bit daunting at first, as they must be inserted into the vagina. Once inserted correctly, they are comfortable, convenient and discreet in that they are easier to carry around and odor-free. Swimming with a tampon is not a problem, and playing sports becomes easier and more comfortable.

There is a disadvantage to using tampons, and that is the slight risk of contracting TSS, which is a very rare syndrome that is caused by the growth of bacteria in the tampon. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause a potentially fatal illness. This usually only happens when the tampon is not changed for a long period of time, such as 24 hours.

One of the fears of using a tampon is that it will somehow get lost in the vagina. This is a groundless fear, as the opening of the cervix is too small for a tampon to pass through. Some women prefer to use both tampons and pads in order to decrease the risk of leakage, especially when the period is at its heaviest, which is usually in the first couple of days.

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candyquilt
Post 3

When I was young, there was a myth that virgins shouldn't use tampons. So I used pads as recommended by my mom at the time. Later, I realized that there is no basis to this idea but I had gotten used to pads and didn't feel like switching. I've never had vaginal infections of any sort, so I think that pads are a good choice.

This is a personal preference though. Some of my friends use tampons and they wouldn't switch to pads either. Everyone should use whatever they're most comfortable with.

serenesurface
Post 2

@donasmrs-- I'm sorry to hear that you went through that.

I use pads most of the time but sometimes I have to use tampons. I can't play soccer with a pad on. So if I'm having my period during practices and games, I use a tampon. It's very comfortable and I've never had any problems.

donasmrs
Post 1

I had a severe infection last month because of a tampon. I forgot a tampon inside for a few days and developed an infection. I was hospitalized because of pain, cramping and a brown discharge with a horrible odor. The tampon was removed and I was put on antibiotics. The doctor said that I was close to developing toxic shock syndrome.

I will not use tampons again. Pads are not as comfortable but you can never forget about it and they are unlikely to cause an infection. The nurse at the hospital said that they are seeing a lot of people with tampon infections lately.

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