Every girl or woman will have an embarrassing story about the period leak. The leak while sleeping is quite common among women. But it is more embarrassing when it happens in public. Some of us may have a friend who keeps a check if there is any stain, especially in school, college, or other public places.
During such incidents, you tend to blame yourself – you didn’t change your pad, you moved around too much during sleep, you slept in a wrong position, you didn’t pay attention to your blood flow, etc. You don’t have to be so hard on yourself; the problem is not you or your body – it is your pad.
As each woman’s body is unique, it reacts differently to periods. There are several products available for most of the unique needs. So, how do you choose the right one for you? Read to know.
Brief about sanitary pads
Sanitary pads (also called sanitary napkins) are rectangle-shaped absorbent material, which are stuck to your underwear and soak up the menstrual blood. These materials prevent the blood from getting on your clothes and sheets. Some pads have ‘wings’, which fold over the sides of the underwear to hold the pad in the better place and prevent leakage and stains. Pads can be made of disposable material, which can be used once and disposed. Other pads can be made from fabric, which are washed and reused.
Other products used to soak or contain the menstrual blood flow include tampons, period underwear and menstrual cups. However, sanitary pads are commonly used.
Selecting pad for your unique needs
The pad you choose depends on various factors including period flow, body shape, skin type, etc. The type of sanitary pad that is suitable for each girl differs; the selection is absolutely subjective.
Choosing the right size pad, with the right coverage will help you have a leak-free period. There are different pads that have different lengths and provide front-to-back coverage. Some pads have wings that prevent leakage from the sides. Thick or thin pads, pads that provide day or overnight protection, pads with different absorbencies for heavy-flow and light-flow days are also available. You can select the ones that fit you better.
Here are some tips that will help you chose the right sanitary pad:
Understand your periods: The flow is not the same throughout your periods. The duration and symptoms on each day vary among every girl. Thus, keep a track on the flow, changes in your body, and duration of your periods, which will help you choose the sanitary pad.
Learn the composition of pads: It is important to know the materials used in the pad, as some can cause infections and skin rashes, particularly the ones with a plastic-like top layer. Pick pads that are not just soft, but also skin friendly and suitable for your skin type. Pads specifically for sensitive skin are also commercially available. However, cotton pads are suitable for all skin types.
Consider the length and flow: You must buy a pad according to your period flow. Initially, you can try a regular-sized napkin. In case, the pad fills up too quickly, you can try a longer-size pad. Special night pads are available, which have a longer length and a wider back to prevent staining of the sheets while sleeping. The shape of the body and the flow determines if you need a long pad with a broad hip-guard or just a regular one. You can use long, thin pads during heavy-flow days and regular ones on light-flow days.
Know the absorbing capacity: The sanitary pad should absorb the blood flow without any leakage or back-flow. For days with heavy-flow, use napkins that have good absorbency, and for days with light-flow use pads, a lighter-absorbency napkin will be useful.
Lifestyle: Choose pads according to the type of activities planned during your periods. If you have more physical work or extra-curricular activities, use a pad with extra absorbing capacity. If you have a dance or gym class, use slim pads with wings.
Types of Sanitary Pads
As mentioned earlier, there are several types of sanitary pads. Based on the usage of the pads, the three types of sanitary pads include:
Panty liners: These are similar to sanitary pads but are thinner and lighter than the regular ones. These are used for usual absorbing vaginal discharge or light menstrual flow. For everyday comfort, mild incontinence and light flow, ultra-light panty liners are available.
Regular pads: When your blood flow isn’t heavy, regular pads can be used. They provide medium absorbency, ideal for light-flow days.
Super pads: These pads provide high absorbency and can be used for heavy flow days.
Menstrual hygiene management
Menstruation is an important process of a woman’s body. It requires a lot of caution and self-care. Maintaining proper hygiene during menstruation helps you to have a healthy and reduced pain cycle.
The following are some tips to ensure proper menstrual hygiene:
- Change your sanitary napkin every 4 – 6 hours to prevent infections, irritation or rashes.
- Clean your vagina properly with water, by moving your hand from the vagina to the anus, not the other way.
- Avoid using vaginal hygiene products while menstruating, as vaginas have their own cleaning mechanism.
- Wrap the used sanitary pad properly before disposing.
- Do not flush the sanitary pad, as it can clog the toilet and spread the bacteria.
- Wash your hands properly after disposing the sanitary pad.
In a country like India, proper disposal methods of sanitary napkins have not been established. Sanitary pads must be disposed similar to other biomedical waste, such as in hospitals. This requires setting up sanitary waste disposing facilities throughout the country.
Another option to decrease environmental damage caused by disposable sanitary pads is to switch to natural and sustainable sanitary pads. Cloth pads and other reusable pads need not be disposed after one use. Choosing these products is an important step towards protecting our environment.
- Kaur R, Kaur K, Kaur R, “Menstrual Hygiene, Management, and Waste Disposal: Practices and Challenges Faced by Girls/Women of Developing Countries”, Journal of Environmental and Public Health, vol. 2018, Article ID 1730964, 9 pages, 2018.
- Pads and Tampons. Kids Health from Nemours. https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/pads-tampons.html. Accessed on 1 1 September 2020.
- How do I use tampons, pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups? Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/health-and-wellness/menstruation/how-do-i-use-tampons-pads-and-menstrual-cups#:~:text=Pads%20(sometimes%20called%20sanitary%20pads,once%20and%20throw%20them%20away. Accessed on 1 1 September 2020.
- How to choose the right sanitary pad? Sigma Test and Research Centre. https://www.sigmatest.org/blog/choose-right-types-of-sanitary-napkins/. Accessed on 1 1 September 2020.
- Guidance on Menstrual Health and Hygiene. https://www.unicef.org/wash/files/UNICEF-Guidance-menstrual-health-hygiene-2019.pdf. Accessed on 1 1 September 2020.
- Guidelines for Management of Sanitary Waste As per Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. https://kspcb.gov.in/Sanitary%20Waste%2006082018.pdf. Accessed on 1 1 September 2020.