Menstrual Protection Overview
Learning to keep track of your menstrual period is a useful skill. Take a calendar and mark the date when you first see blood with an "X." This "X" represents day one of your cycle. Count the days from this X to the next X; the first day of your next period. If you continue to mark the first day of each menstrual period and count the days between, you should be able to predict the approximate date your next period will start.
While you are having your period, you can choose between pads, panty liners, and tampons for absorbing your flow. You might wish to use more than one of these products or all of them at various points during menstruation. Panty liners work best for lighter days, which tend to occur at the very beginning and end of your period. You may prefer to use tampons for heavier days or use them during the day, while opting for pads at night. Some women like to use a tampon in combination with pads or panty liners, just in case of leakage.
Pads and Liners
Pads are shaped to fit inside the crotch of your panties where they absorb the menstrual flow. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. There are pads with wings to tuck under your panties to extend protection to the outer edges of your underwear. Extra-thick pads work well with heavier flows. Some pads even contain deodorant for women who dislike the smell of menstrual blood. The deodorant may irritate your skin, and are not really necessary if you bathe every day. It may take time and experimentation to figure out which pads fit and feel best and which offer the right protection for you.
Girls just starting to have periods tend to use pads first and graduate to tampons at a later date. Change your pad every 4-6 hours. You'll know it's time to change your pad when it feels full, wet, or uncomfortable. Some girls prefer to change the pad every time they urinate.
Panty liners are very thin and are shorter than pads. By themselves, these are a good option for the very end of your period when the flow is much less. They can also afford better protection when used in combination with tampons, in case a tampon should leak. After you remove a pad or panty liner, you should fold it into a square and wrap it in some toilet paper before disposing it in a wastebasket. Some pads come with handy disposal envelopes.
One of the best things about tampons is that they allow you the luxury of swimming during the time of your menstrual period. Tampons are placed inside the vagina to absorb the flow of blood at its source. They come with a two-piece cardboard or plastic applicator, something like a little chute, so you can slide the tampon into place. A string it attached to the bottom of the tampon and this remains outside your vagina. When you're ready to remove the tampon, you pull on the string. Used tampons can be flushed down the toilet
Like pads, tampons come in different sizes and absorbencies. The package will be marked with these details. Tampons should be changed after 4-6 hours, and maybe a bit more often on heavier days.
Using a tampon may seem scary at first. Insertion may be uncomfortable until you get the technique down. They may even feel uncomfortable once insertion is accomplished. When a tampon is inserted in the correct manner, you shouldn't be able to feel its presence. You may need a mother's help to learn how to do this the right way, or perhaps there is another friend, adult, or a physician whom you trust to help you practice.