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Pads, Tampons & Menstrual Cups

You can choose what to use!

In this section, we’ll compare pads, pantiliners, tampons, and menstrual cups.

Back in the day, the options for pads were very limited. Women wore bulky pads attached to belts that were strapped into place.

old pad

Aren’t you glad we don’t have to wear these anymore?

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then! Today there are many different products for both light and heavy flows. Many of these products are easy and convenient to use and make your period as comfortable as possible.

You can check out the tutorials to learn how to use each of these products.

Some girls find it easiest to start with pads until they have become more comfortable with their periods but you can use tampons or menstrual cups from your very first period if you like.

Whatever you choose to use is completely up to you! The choice is yours :)!

What are they?

pantilinersPantiliners are designed to absorb vaginal discharge and meant to keep you feeling fresh throughout the day. They are stick on to your panties in the same way that pads do. There are a variety of pantiliners available and they come in a wide range of sizes, lengths, and shapes (including thong) so you can choose one that best fits your needs and preferences.

You can also wear pantiliners for:

  • As a tampon back up to catch leaks
  • At the end of your period when your period is light or when you are unsure if your period has stopped
  • When you are expecting your period so you don’t stain your panties when you start your period
  • If you have an irregular cycle and your period may come unexpectedly

Pads are worn on your panties and designed to absorb your period. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and a range of absorbencies to fit your needs and preferences.

There are two main types of pads:

  • Thin or Ultra thin pads
  • Maxi pads (which are thicker)

With today’s technology, thin or ultra thin pads offer the same great protection (if not better!) as maxi pads. Some women prefer maxi pads because they fit closer to the body but when worn with snug fit panties, thin pads offer the same close fit.

There are two main pad designs:

  • Pads with wings
  • Wingless pads

Wings wrap around the sides of your underwear to help the pad stay in place and protect the sides of your underwear when you move around. Wingless pads work best with boyshort style panties.


Tampons are designed to be worn inside your body in the vaginal canal. The expand to fit your shape as it absorbs your period. Sometimes they leak so it’s a good idea to wear a pantiliner too.When inserted correctly, you can’t feel the tampon inside you. This is one of the reasons some girls prefer tampons especially those active in sports.

There are two types of tampons:

  • Applicator : Made of cardboard or plastic that helps guide the tampon into place
  • Non-applicator : Tampon is inserted using your hand

Tampon come in a variety of absorbencies but you should always choose the lowest absorbency to avoid risk of TSS. Tampons can only be worn for a maximum of 8 hours. If you are sleeping with a tampon, you need to make sure you wake up in time to change it.

Tampons are removed by pulling on the string and sliding the tampon out. Do not flush the used tampon.

Menstrual Cups

divacupMenstrual cups are small soft cups designed to be worn inside your body. Unlike tampons, menstrual cups collect period fluid and are reusable.

They are offered in a couple of sizes and since it is held in place by the vaginal canal, most menstrual cups are one size fits most.

They can be worn for up to 12 hours and when inserted correctly, you won’t be able to feel it. It’s long wear time and comfort are some of the many reasons athletes and busy women choose to wear a menstrual cup.

There are two types of menstrual cups:

  • Menstrual Cup that sits at the base of your vaginal canal such as the DivaCup, KeeperCup, MoonCup
  • Menstrual Cup that sits below your cervix such as the Instead SoftCup
Comparison Chart
ComparePantilinersPadsTamponsMenstrual Cups
Where is it worn?On pantiesOn pantiesInside body, vaginal canalInside body, vaginal canal
Absorbs or Collects?AbsorbsAbsorbsAbsorbsCollects
At what time in your cycle can you wear it?AnytimeAnytimeOnly when you have a flow**Anytime
How long can you wear it for?Max 8 hoursMax 12 hours
Can you wear it swimming?NoNoYesYes
Can you it be worn during intercourse?NoYes, only the Instead SoftCup
Risk of TSS?NoNoYesNo

*Price depends on brand. Generally, pantiliners are cheaper per unit, pads and tampons are comparable, and menstrual cups cost more, however most are reusable and only a one-time cost.

**This means you cannot put in a tampon when you are expecting your period and haven’t started bleeding yet. This is because there is nothing to absorb.

What do you like to use? Share and tell us why in the comments!

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About Dedy Wong

Dedy is the founder of The Period Blog and creator of The Little Red Kit. Her period is around 30 days long and likes to use pads and tampons -although she has tried just about everything including menstrual cups and period subscription boxes!


  1. Hi Dedy! I am 12 but I haven’t started my period yet, but I want to be prepared for when it comes! Are tampons good for first timers? Or should I try them once I’m more experienced, I feel kind of weird thinking about tampons NOW, but I’m sure that I will get used to it. Another thing is, that I’ve had small ‘spottings’. My first one was about a month ago, and now I’ve been having more, is that a sign that I’m getting super close to it? Or that it’s gonna be another month?
    – Just waiting for my period –

  2. Hi i just really wanted to say that this site is really helpful since i feel akward talkingaabout it to my older sister and my friends have moved. So i really had trouble my first time but thankfully i found this site with many helpful tips. So thank you.

  3. Hi! I’m a competitive dancer, and I wanted to know what you would suggest for extremely active atheletes.

  4. Hi! I just found your blog, it’s truly amazing: it has helped me with so much! I got my period around a year ago and I’m pretty sure I’m one of the first ones to get it in my group of friends, but I don’t know how to tell them, they always ask and I reply with “nope”:( any advice? Xoxo

    • Hi Aubie,

      I’m so happy you are finding this site helpful <3!

      Your friends may be asking you because they may have it too! If you're not comfortable telling them - you can wait until one of them tells you that they got theirs and then you can tell them that you have it too if that makes you feel more comfortable.

      You may be surprised to find that they may have it too or are just geniunely curious about the whole having a period experience and want someone to talk to.

      Your friend,
      The Period BLog

  5. Hi im 12 and I was just scrolling on your website and saw the menstrual cup section, I have a couple of questions. What are they? Would it be ok if I use them? How do they work?
    Thanks so much,
    – Ashleigh

    • Hi Ashleigh!

      Menstrual cups are worn internally (inside your vagina) kind of like a tampon but unlike a tampon, it does not absorb your period – it collects it in the cup. It can be worn up for up to 12 hours and then you will have to empty it and insert it again. It is reusable and can be worn for swimming too.

      Menstrual cups are safe to use at any age but they do take some time and practice to learn how to use.

      Let me know if you have any questions! I’ve tried the DivaCup and you can see my photos and review here: http://www.theperiodblog.com/reviews/divacup-model-1-review/

      Your friend,
      The Period BLog

  6. I’m starting trampolining and I’ve had my period for a while now. I away so use always infinity night, because they make me confident that I won’t leak, but starting trampolining has made me nervous about if I will leak or not! What do you recommend I use? (I don’t like the sound of sticking stuff up my vagina.)

    • Hi Akko!

      Always Infinity is one of my top favorites when it comes to protecting against leaks. If you are very paranoid since you’ll be jumping up and down a lot, I would suggest you wear the Always Infinity night time pad so you get more coverage in the front and back :).

      Another favorite are the new Playtex pads and Stayfree pads (they are very similar!).

      I hope that helps Akko!

      Your friend,
      The Period Blog

  7. Hi Dedy-
    I recently heard of your website and wanted to say thank you for all the great advice and tips! I’ve been on the site nonstop! have a question in regards to pad brands. I’m a dancer(6 days a week) and I recently just got my period. I haven’t found a pad that I’ve felt comfortable dancing in, I’m also so embarrassed someone can see it through my leotard or that I’ll leak through in class. Sweating has also made the odor progress throughout class. I’ve tried to insert a tampon several times, however, after seeing my gynecologist it’s not really ideal for me to be wearing them right now. Do you have any pad brand suggestions that are more flexible, conceal odor, won’t move (I know wings will help), and most importantly are comfortable so it’s not on my mind while I dance? Any and all advice would be great! Thanks (:

    • Hi Michelle!

      I’m so happy that you are finding my website helpful :D!

      I would definitely recommend the Always Infinity pads – they are so thin and flexible, I think they will be a great option for dance or any other sports. Try the Radiant Always Infinity line pads that are scented. That may help with the odor.

      Here’s my review here: Always Infinity Pad Reviews

      If you have any more questions, just post it in the comments section :)!

      Your friend,
      The Period Blog

  8. Hi Dedy! I just wanted to say thank you! I just found this blog today and have been reading nonstop! Thanks for all of the great advice, and pictures! It’s rare to find a website that informs us about almost everything about our periods and has pictures! :-)
    I have been quite shy with my body and uncomfortable looking/feeling. I started my period just recently (I’m 14) and have been using pads, because that’s what my friends use. And I’m a little uncomfortable talking about periods with my mom, ESPECIALLY bringing up the thought of sticking something inside of me. But, I’ve been reading about menstrual cups, and they sound really great! I brought the subject up to my mom but she didn’t seem to like it. I’m hoping to convince her to buy me one to try out. Wish me luck!
    Oh, and you have a post just about menstrual cups?

  9. I’m a menstrual cup lover myself for the long wear time and comfort, no chafing or dryness like I always had with tampons. Also love that it doesn’t leak when doing sports (I’m a competitive trampolinist). While cups are more expensive upfront it’s very important to take into account that they are a one time purchase and pay for themselves in 2-3 months. Do you think there’s any way you could change the infographic to reflect that? :-) thanks so much for this fabulous website and all the great work you do!

    • Hi Riley,

      Thanks so much for sharing and thank you for for valuable suggestion. I added a note to the * at the bottom to mention the one time cost of menstrual cups. You rock!


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