What are the Options for Managing My Menstrual Health?

There are so many period products to choose from, and it can be hard to know which is right for you! This is a great place to learn the basics of each type of product, and we encourage you to research more to figure out the best option for you!


Whether you’re new to menstruation, or have been dealing with monthly menses for years, it’s always a good idea to explore new options that may be more comfortable for you! Keep reading to learn about some different options for managing menstruation.


1. Pads


If you’ve had your very first period, a pad (also called “sanitary napkin”) is probably the first product you learned to use! There are many different types and sizes. Most brands size their pads based on period flow and underwear size. The sizes range from 1 to 5, where a 1 would be the shortest and thinnest pad, and a size 5 would be a very long and thick pad for maximum absorption. The smaller and thinner ones (size 1-3) are good for doing physical activity, or for during the day. The bigger and longer sizes (size 4-5) are great for heavy flows and for nighttime. It’s also helpful to know that some pads have wings for extra stability, but whether you buy the ones with wings or without wings, is just up to your personal preference. Let’s see the pros and cons of using pads.



  • Easy to use! Just stick the pad to your underwear and change it once every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Great option for very heavy period days, since changing your pad often is super easy.
  • Lower risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and other infections.



  • They can move around and shift out of place. This can be uncomfy and might cause period leaks.
  • Pads are not very discrete! Sometimes they are visible under clothes, like leggings.
  • You can’t use them while swimming.
  • Pads are a great option if you aren’t comfortable with inserting a product, or if you’re likely to forget you have a product inserted! Many people are comfortable wearing pads, especially when they find the right brand, size, and shape for them! 


2. Tampons


At first, you might be intimidated to try to use a tampon if you’ve only ever used pads. But, I can assure you, it’s not scary! It does take some getting used to though. Tampon sizes are usually based on period flow, and the sizes are more descriptive than for pads. The sizes can range from light to ultra; you can probably guess that if your period is light, you should buy light tampons, and if your period is very heavy, you should buy ultra-tampons. Since your period usually doesn’t have the same flow for the duration of the week, you might want to buy a couple different sizes. Unfortunately, to find the right size, it can be a lot of (messy) trial and error. The general rule of thumb is that if you’re experiencing leaks, go up one size, and if it’s uncomfortable to insert, go down one size. Now let’s see the pros and cons of tampons.



  • Very discrete under all clothes (be careful if you’re wearing a bikini, the string from your tampon might show, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about at all!).
  • They don’t move around once inserted like pads tend to.
  • Great option for sports, including swimming!


  • Can be difficult to insert and change at first. It takes some getting used to before feeling comfortable in them.
  • Higher risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), which can happen if you leave it in too long, aim to change your tampon once every 4-6 hours, and avoid sleeping with them inserted.
  • Higher risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Might leak! (Make sure you find the right size for you!)
  • Tampons would be a good fit for you if you’re comfortable inserting a product, or are looking for something more discrete so you feel confident wearing leggings, bathing suits, or light-coloured clothes. Many people prefer tampons since they don’t move around while running, dancing, or sleeping.


3. Liners


Liners are basically smaller pads, and can be used for light periods, or even heavy discharge. Liners work the same as pads, you just stick them to your underwear, and change when necessary. You can find a variety of different kinds, like ones with wings, without wings, very light ones, and ones that fit onto thongs.



  • Great for lighter period days.
  • Fit on small underwear, like thongs!
  • More discrete (and smaller) than pads.



  • Not great for heavy periods, will definitely leak right through if your flow is heavy. It is best to use these on the day you’re spotting.
  • Liners can be used at any time during your menstrual cycle. Some people use liners as a backup when they’re first trying out tampons or menstrual cups in case of leaks due to the wrong size or improper insertion. 


4. Menstrual cup


You may have heard of the menstrual cup being the best option for a sustainable period product. These are similar to tampons because you have to insert the cup. They are made of silicone, so they are rubbery and flexible. Once inserted, it acts as a suction cup to prevent leaking.



  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Lower risk of toxic shock syndrome and other infections.
  • Lasts up to 12 hours with emptying.
  • Little to no leaks.
  • Low monthly costs (one cup lasts many years).



  • Difficult to insert and change. (You’ll need a private washroom to change it!)
  • You have to wash or sterilize the cup after menstruation each month.
  • The menstrual cup is right for you if you’re looking for something environmentally sustainable, low monthly costs, and long-lasting. It’s easy to travel with, and as long as you have access to a private washroom at least once per day, it’s easy to manage!


5. Period underwear


These are another sustainable option and may be better for you if you don’t like the idea of inserting a product. Period underwear are made of microfiber polyester, nylon, and other materials that prevent leaking. They are worn just like regular underwear, and do not require any other period product. These are made so that there’s no leaks, they’re comfy, and they’re easy to use and wash!



  • Environmentally friendly.
  • No leaks!
  • Low maintenance.



  • Have to make sure they’re washed thoroughly and properly, leftover blood can cause bacteria growth
  • Period underwear might be another good option for living a zero-waste lifestyle. They are easy to use, just like regular underwear, which you’ve been wearing your whole life!


There are many options for managing your period every month. I encourage you to research more information about the products, and talk to people who you feel comfortable with, like your mom or doctor to figure out what is best for your body. Try out a few different products to determine which you feel the most confident and comfortable in.


Have a happy period!