The most common types of period products you might come across are pads and liners. They’re a firm fave for many girls and young people who have periods because of how easy they are to use.
These rectangles of absorbent material simply stick into your pants and absorb your flow. Pads and liners come in various shapes, lengths and absorbencies. They also come in reusable options if you want to be a bit kinder to the planet and save some money. Pads are designed for use throughout your period, and are much more absorbent than liners. Liners are much thinner and are great to use alongside other products to protect your pants from any cheeky leaks.
Which pad is right for me?
Like with all period products there are lots of brands, styles and shapes out there. One of the most important things to think about when choosing a pad is how absorbent you need the pad to be. Pads range from ‘light’ to ‘super’, just like tampons, and most have a little indicator on the front of the pack to show you which they are. Sometimes, they’re referred to as ‘day’ and ‘night’ pads. As the names suggest, light pads suit people with lighter flows, and super suit those with a heavier flow. To find out more about flows and period colours check out our guide here.
Night pads are designed to be longer, so when you lie down, they cover further up your pants – you’ll be surprised how far that blood can travel when you lie down – trust us! They are also designed to be more absorbent so you can sleep with one in your pants and not need to get up and change it in the night.
It’s worth pointing out that just because it says it’s a ‘night’ or ‘day’ pad doesn’t mean you have to wear them at these times. If you have a heavy flow you may choose to wear night pads throughout in the day too. Likewise, if you have light periods you can use day pads at night - it’s really whatever works for you.
If you find you have to change your pads frequently, you might choose to use something with a little more absorbency. You can do this at different stages of your period too, so you could use something more absorbent in the first few days of your period, then move onto something a little lighter.
While pads are very easy to use, some people can find them a little uncomfortable, especially when trying to do activities that require a lot of movement and flexibility. Single use pads are held in place by a sticky strip on the bottom of the pad, and reusable ones have press studs or poppers on the other side of your pants to keep them in place. This can mean that they’re prone to moving around and getting a bit stuck together…or sticking to you… So, it might be worth opting for a cup or tampon if you find a pad a little restricting for some activities. However, if you’d rather not use products that you insert into your vagina (like cups or tampons), then period pants are another good option.
How often should I change my pad?
As with all of the products available, you really need to get to know your flow because, as we said before, everyone and every flow is different. Along with your flow, how often you need to change your pad also depends on the absorbency of the pads you’ve chosen. Generally, it’s a good idea to change your pad every 4 - 6 hours, but if you find your pads are becoming filled more quickly, then you could either switch to a more absorbent pad or just change them more often.
You must regularly change your pad even if it isn’t ‘full’. Continually wearing pads for longer than 8 hours (except for while you’re sleeping) can cause some bacteria to build up, which in some cases can lead to infection.
How to use a pad
Using a pad is super straight forward BUT, as with all products, be sure to wash your hands BEFORE you start! First, simply unfold the packet and remove the pad from the plastic wrapper. Next, stick the pad into your pants – some pads have ‘wings’ (little flappy bits that fold around your pants), so if you have these, just remove the paper backing then fold the wings around your pants. Wings offer a little more security from leaks and stop your pads moving around! Then hey voila! Your period pad is in place, and you’re ready to go! It’s really that simple. When the pad is full, you simply sit on the toilet and remove it from your pants. You can then roll it up and wrap the plastic from your clean pad around it or wrap it in tissue. Then pop it in the bin and stick the clean one into your pants. Always be sure to wash your hands before AND after, and never flush your pads or liners down the toilet…no one needs a blocked toilet!
As we mentioned before, reusable pads are another option. Single-use, disposable pads, like the ones we described above, can be fairly expensive. Depending on your flow you can go through quite a lot of pads in a month, so it soon adds up. Also, disposable pads aren’t very eco-friendly, a lot of plastic is used to create disposable pads and they aren’t recyclable. There are some more eco brands out there, so if you prefer the idea of a disposable pad but want to be a bit kinder to the planet, it’s worth doing some research.
If you don’t want to use a menstrual cup, then reusable pads or period pants would be the most eco and budget-friendly way to go by far. Reusable pads come in various materials, and again in different lengths, absorbencies and patterns. They all have an absorbent core with a leak-proof outer layer to contain the blood and are held in place by press studs. To use a reusable pad (you guessed it) wash your hands, then simply place it in your pants (in the same way you would a single-use pad) then snap together the press studs on the wings on the outside of your pants – job done!
When you need to change your reusable pad, take the used one out, put a clean one in, then rinse the used one under cold water. We do this so the blood doesn’t stain the pad – a good tip all round is to use cold water to avoid bloodstains on any fabric. Once you’ve given it a good rinse out, you can either clean it with soap under really warm water until your next wash load or pop it straight into the washing machine with the rest of your clothes. Be sure to read the care instructions on whatever pads you buy so they last as long as possible and are kept in tip-top condition!
Your period doesn’t have to just be a crampy time of the month. You can still live your life and do the things you want to. Choosing the right products to look after you while you’re on your period is a big part of that, so try new things and embrace your Bloody Brilliant period. You can find out more about other period products at the links below!