Feminine hygiene products
When your daughter has her period, she will need to use something to absorb and dispose of the blood. Pads, tampons, cups, sponges [link to section on pads, tampons, cups and sponges] . . . there are many options available and it can be confusing to a girl who has just started her period. Here are a few tips to help her figure out what works for her.
- Most young women start with pads because they are easy to use. There are a wide range of disposable and re-usable pads available. Have her try a few and teach her how to use and dispose of them BEFORE she gets her period. The feeling of having a pad between your legs can take some getting used to.
- Buy a selection of pads and have them on hand for her to try out. Then, when she is comfortable, take her shopping so that she can see what is available. Include her when you go shopping for your own products.
Tampons, cups and sponges
- There is no right age to begin to use tampons, cups or sponges – if that is an option your daughter wants to try. Many young women first need to get comfortable with their body parts and with inserting an object into their vagina correctly.
- Some girls have a small vaginal opening and it may be difficult and uncomfortable for them to insert a tampon or a cup. In this case, it might be a good idea to wait a little while until they are older and their vaginal opening has stretched out.
- For many girls, learning to use a tampon or a cup makes it more comfortable for them to participate in all their regular activities (such as swimming).
- Always teach your daughter the importance of changing any product, but particularly tampons (because of the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome [link to SOGC info on toxic shock]) on a regular basis – at least every 4 hours during the daytime. Tampons can be worn for up to 8 hours overnight.
Many women use a combination of products – tampons or a cup and pads, pads at night time, different sizes of pads and (or) tampons during different phases of their period. A young woman will probably start with slender or light styles because her period may not be as heavy and her body is smaller. To help her decide you can talk about:
- what her flow is like during the day and at night
- how her flow changes from the beginning through to the end of her period
- how familiar and comfortable she is with her sexual organs
- which products she thinks she would be most comfortable using
- how much she travels or is away from home
- how active she is (how often she swims, rides a bike, dances or engages in other physical activities)