Should I use pads or tampons?
It is a personal choice. Otherwise known as ‘feminine hygiene products’, pads and tampons are the small, disposable items we use to soak up (absorb) period blood. You can buy them at supermarkets, pharmacists and convenience shops. When they’re just starting periods, most girls try pads first because they don’t feel ready to use tampons, which are pushed up inside the vagina.
Most girls don’t want to use tampons for their first few times, or years, or ever. It’s a totally personal choice. Companies now sell packs of smaller tampons and pads for younger girls or women with smaller bodies. Especially during the first day or two of a period, a pad or tampon might take in all the blood it can absorb within a couple of hours. That’s why you change them often. At your age you probably don’t need to use ‘super-maxi’ or ‘maxi’ or ‘heavy flow’ tampons or pads. Some girls wear a bigger, ‘overnighter’ pad in bed when they have their period as they’ll go for several hours without changing it.
Menstrual cups are re-usable silicone cups you can insert into your vagina which seal up against the cervix. They collect the blood and must be changed every few hours. They should be sterilised before being inserted again and are not the most common choice for girls. Another option is special period undies with a built-in pad that you wash and wear again.
There’s more on all this in the book, Girl Stuff 8–12: Your Real Guide to the Pre-Teen Years.