Normal vaginal bleeding, also known as a period/menstruation, happens once a month for a sexually developed woman. This is a monthly cycle, which occurs to prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy. Now if no pregnancies develop, the uterus sheds the extra lining as it serves no purpose. When shedding starts menstrual blood comes out of the vagina, and the blood which comes out is part blood and part shed tissue from the inside of the uterus.
Normally, periods starts in a woman’s body at roughly 10-15 years old and continue to experience their monthly periods until they get to an age where they go through menopause, around 45-55 years old. Usually lasting from 3 to 5 days, but sometimes a period can last up to 8 days. Keep in mind that bleeding from the vagina is not the only symptom, others may include lower back pain, food cravings, mood swings, abdominal cramps, fatigue, headaches, and sore breasts.
Period product options
Today there are a vast number of ways to meet your needs when you experience your monthly cycle, and the wide range of products can be intimidating for a woman. So below you will find a list we put together with the most often used menstrual products, to help you choose the product best suited for you!
Much like tampons, menstrual cups need to be inserted, however they are reusable and can stay for up to 12 hours. A menstrual cup is a funnel shaped cup composed of medical grade silicone, which does its intended function by suctioning to the cervix and collects menstrual blood. If taken care of properly, it can be re-used for up to 10 years.
An added benefit when comparing menstrual cups to tampons, is that the cups can hold remarkably more fluid than tampons. Giving you peace of mind where you do not have to go to the bathroom as much and check if you need to switch it out if you were using a tampon.
Menstrual pads are the most commonly used menstrual product, followed closely by tampons. They have a wide variety of sizes and thickness, where they can be thin for when you are having a lighter flow, they can also be “regular” or even thick for a heavy flow (eg. max pads). Sanitary pads can be used, both, as a primary period product or even as a “back-up” to be used at the same time as another product. Some menstrual pads have “wings” or flaps, which fold over the sides of your under to protect you from leaking blood. These are recommended if you happen to have an active lifestyle and tend to move around frequently.
Even though most pads are usually disposable or one time use, there are reusable options for you to use. Reusable pads are made from cloth fabric and can be used for up to 2 to 5 years if taken care of. To use reusable pads, much like disposable pads, you place it into your underwear but unlike the disposable version you use the velcro or snaps to hold its place. Then change it after 4 to 6 hours, and if you are out and about then put in a sealable waterproof bag. If you are instead at home, then after use soak it in some cold water and put it through a wash cycle. Very simple!
If you feel like sanitary pads are not for you and restrictive in movement, then tampons are certainly a viable alternative. Now while most tampons are inside a plastic applicator, reusable and refillable ones do exist. Tampons’ shape are cylindrical cotton/cellulose, when inserted it can simply expand and absorb released menstrual blood. Every tampon comes with a string attached so that they can be pulled out after 4 to 8 hours and thrown in the trash bin.
Some of the biggest advantages the tampons have over pads and other menstrual products are their size and availability. Like pads, tampons are easily accessible in grocery and drug stores and even some public bathrooms. They are also one of the few menstrual hygiene products you can swim with (in addition to period swimwear, cups, and discs).
Similar to the menstrual cups and tampons these discs also need to be inserted, but the difference is the placement inside the vagina. Cups or tampons are placed within the vaginal canal, while discs fit into the area where the vaginal canal meets the cervix and collects the blood. Unlike the cups, discs do not require suction.
A positive benefit for the woman using this product, is she can participate in sexual intercourse while on her cycle. Discs resemble cups where they are also made from medical grade silicone and can stay up to 12 hours. And when adequate care is taken, much like menstrual cups, they can last up to 10 years.
When compared to regular underwear, period underwear is made up of extra layers of fabric intended to absorb menstrual blood. They can be worn alone for periods or you can use them at the same time with other products for added protection.
Most period underwear can be used more than once but like disposable pads, some companies offer one time use options. Also comparably to pads, period underwear has moisture wicking and antimicrobial properties. Now the time for which you can keep a single pair on without changing, depends on your flow and may be used up to 12 hours. When time is up, put them in a washing machine and wash in cold water on a delicate cycle. They do not need to be washed separately.
Period swimwear does not look any different from regular swimwear, and you can still look sexy in them! The main difference is that they are especially designed to absorb menstrual blood and prevent leakage. Banishing any worry about having to insert a period product, such as cups, discs, or tampons. These were designed for you to be at peace when you feel like heading to a nearby pool or beach, so try them next time you want to go swimming and do not let your menstrual cyle stop you.