What to Know About Your Flow

You may know by now a little bit about your menstrual cycle.

But do you know all the sanitary options available to you? I remember starting with a heavy flow. Back then, I thought that pads were the only option for me. I used to go through twelve to thirteen heavy pads a day. That’s a lot. I was always uncomfortable with the way the pads felt. It was almost like wearing a diaper. I was self-conscious about whether other people could tell I was wearing them, too.

There was one incident where I had to get to class quickly and couldn’t get to the bathroom to change my pad out. I ended up bleeding through the cotton and onto my pants. I was mortified. A friend of mine came to my rescue and gave me her jacket to wear around my waist. She then let me in on her little secret: she used tampons! I had no idea that tampons were an option for me. I thought they were only for girls who had lost their virginity. Boy, was I wrong. The school’s health education program had failed me.

She explained to me that wearing a tampon is not the same as having intercourse. It also does not feel the same. Depending on your flow you can buy sizes ranging from lite to super heavy. If one size does not feel comfortable, try getting a different size. You should also know that the size of your tampon has no reflection on your body aside from how much of your uterine wall you shed.

If you try tampons and you still have trouble with excess fluid getting on your clothes, look into panty liners.

Panty liners are small, thinner versions of pads. They are specifically designed to create an extra barrier between your flow and your clothes. It is also okay to use more than one panty liner or pad at a time. Tampons are strictly one at a time. Just be sure to take proper care of your sanitation devices. Do not forget to change out your pad every 3-4 hours. The same rules apply to tampons and panty liners. The box may suggest that the product will last longer than that but be safe and try to avoid going over 4 hours.

If you are trying to cut back on your plastic waste, or do not find tampons, panty liners, or pads comfortable, then there are reusable cups. A common reusable cup is known as the Diva Cup. The Diva Cup is a small, plastic, form-fitting cup that holds a certain amount of fluids. Once the cup is full or you have had it in for a couple of hours, you can remove the cup and dump the waste into a toilet. You will need to be sure to use soap and water to clean the cup each time before reuse. This process may seem like a bit much, so it surely is not for everyone, but it can be useful.

Here are some references to using menstrual pads, tampons, etc.


Sarah is a UAB student and an intern for GirlSpring.

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