Finding out what period products work for you, and creating your own routine for care and hygiene, is all part of getting to know your period. There are loads of different period products out there; it's all about experimenting, trying new things and finding what's right for you. Many people have a couple of preferred products and switch between them to suit different activities, what outfit they want to wear, or even the time of day. The main thing is finding the products that are the most comfortable and work best for you and your flow. Being on your period shouldn't stop you from living your life!
In this handy guide we'll cover some of the different products out there, a spot of myth-busting around keeping yourself clean, and some hints and tips on trying out other products. We want to give you the knowledge and confidence to make your own choices around what products you use.
It's worth pointing out that sometimes it's a case of getting used to different products. It can feel a little unusual the first couple of times you try a new product, but as you get more confident using different ones you might find you prefer some to others. The key is to follow the instructions, and not be afraid to give new things a try.
Before we go into the different products available, here's a quick map of where things are down there! Sounds obvious right? Wrong! You would be surprised how many people don't know exactly where things are. Lots of girls and young people who have periods are also scared of using products in the wrong place.
So by now you'll know all the details around your period, why we get them and where everything is inside the body for girls and young people who have periods from our Period 101 blog . However, it's important we also understand where things are from the outside too!
1. Your urethra – this is where your pee comes out
2. Your vagina – where your period comes out (check the period 101 blog for more details)
3. Vulva – the outside area of your genitals
4. Your anus – where your poo comes out.
For products that you insert into your vagina – like tampons and menstrual cups – you need to be aiming for the right place.
Our top 5 period pals!
We're going to introduce you to 5 of the most common period products you might come across. You can click on each one to find out more about them, including; how to use them, why you might choose to use them, and some top tips.
Small compact cylinders of cotton wool-like material which is inserted into the vagina to absorb your flow
A reusable, flexible silicone cup which is inserted into the vagina to collect your flow
Reusable pants which have an absorbent and leakproof layer which absorbs your flow and contains it within the pants
Pads & Liners
Rectangular pads made of absorbent material which are placed inside your underwear to absorb your flow (reusable options are available)
These are the most common products available, but there are many different kinds of each product out there to suit everyone. A really important thing to remember, whatever product you use, is to read the instructions and make sure you change/clean the product as often as needed.
Keeping clean and fresh
You'll hear lots of opinions around keeping yourself clean and fresh when you're on your period. The key thing to remember here is that being on your period IS NOT in any way dirty! It's a natural process which your body goes through. You may want to shower a little more often to look after your body and keep yourself feeling fresh, but that's your choice.
We've got some handy tips for staying fresh and feeling Bloody Brilliant while on your period.
The first thing to know is that your vagina is a self-cleaning organ (impressive! If only our bedrooms were too) so you mustn't use regular soaps or cleansers in or around your vagina, as this could really upset the careful balance of natural flora (good bacteria) that keep your vagina clean and healthy. Even some of the specially designed soaps and wipes can upset this balance. The best thing to do is just use plain warm water – nothing else! When using warm water to clean yourself you should never try to clean inside your vagina, just your vulva, because let's face it if you're using pads or period pants especially, things can get a little messy. You should always begin at the front of your body and wash backwards (towards your bum), this way you won't risk washing any unwanted bacteria from your bum towards your vagina. During your period it's best to wash a couple of times a day, it'll help you to feel fresh as well as keeping any unwanted bacteria at bay too. It's all about finding a routine that works for you, which could include having a quick wash when you get up and before bedtime, for example.
Where to get period products
There are lots of different places you can go to buy period products - most supermarkets and pharmacies sell them. You can also buy products online - some websites also offer subscriptions – so they'll post your products to you every month (make sure you ask a parent or carer to help you set this up).
Some of the products we mentioned are much cheaper than others, and while some might seem expensive to begin with, they'll last you much longer. Menstrual cups, period pants and reusable pads, for example, may cost a little more the first time you buy them. However, you'll only need a few of them (depending which you go for) as you just keep washing and reusing them. Some menstrual cups can last you up to 10 years! So they're worth the investment as they'll save you a lot of money in the long run. Reusable products are also much better for the environment, as they reduce waste.
Disposable tampons and pads come in a variety of styles and brands, some costing more than others. Whatever you choose it’s important you buy enough so that you can regularly change your products during your period. If you're struggling to get hold of period products, whether you can't afford them or don't have anyone to help you choose, you could visit your school nurse who can offer advice and free products, or food banks also stock period products.
We want all girls and young people who have periods to feel empowered to make the best choices for them when it comes to their period. Deciding on which products you want to use is a big part of that. You should never feel embarrassed or shy about buying or asking for advice on period products; after all they're a completely normal part of life for all people who bleed. Remember, knowledge is power, so be proud of that pad, tampon or cup and own your Bloody Brilliant period! You've got this.