Question: I only really use tampons. What's the difference between tampons, pads and liners? And should I be using them? If so, when?

  • Health Expert health expert Answer
    Sandy Knauf is helping change the way people talk about vaginal care.
    Sandy Knauf
  • Mom mom Answer
    Kelly Wickham provides information about vaginal care.
    Kelly Wickham
  • Peer peer Answer
    Mai Nguyen provides information about vaginal care.
    Laura Martin
  • Pads and liners are both worn in your underwear and most disposable brands have an adhesive on one side that sticks to your underwear. When positioning them, aim to place the middle of the pad/liner over the spot in your underwear where you notice discharge.  Liners are made to be worn in between your periods or on the last day or two of your period when your flow is more spotty in nature and your really don’t need a thicker pad or tampon. Pads are made of much more absorbent material and range in length and thickness depending on your preference and needs (extra long for nighttime, thinner ones for the last days of your period, more absorbent ones for heavier days). Pads should be changed every 4 hours or so to help control bacteria and odor.

    When using tampons, it is important to keep several things in mind to make sure your tampon use is safe. Make sure to wash your hands both before and after inserting a tampon. Be sure to use the lowest absorbency needed for your flow. Also, tampons are meant to be worn between four and eight hours at a time. So if the tampon feels dry when you are changing it, you should move to a lower absorbency one. I hope this helps you find a system for using all of the products that is most useful for you.

  • That's such a great basic question that many young girls ask. Let me start with tampons. They are a product that women use that is an internal device while they're on their period. It's inserted into the vagina and needs to be changed regularly as it soaks up blood. Pads and liners are similar in that they are products that are inserted into your underwear. They are both used externally, if you will. Pads are much thicker than liners and should be used during heavy flow days, while liners are for your lighter days. Usually, these are toward the end of your period. Every girl owes it to herself to try all products to see what works for her. You may find that some are more comfortable than others or that you can use a combination of tampons and a liner.

  • You win. I've had my fingers crossed in hopes that someone would ask this question. A tampon usually comes in a plastic or cardboard applicator in the shape of an oversized cigarette, or better yet, cigar. Tampons are inserted into your vagina where they then open into the shape of a sort of inside-out umbrella. In your vagina the tampon catches the blood and keeps it from coming out onto your panties or anything else you're wearing.

    A pad, on the other hand, sticks to the inside of your panties between them and your vagina. The back is adhesive and some of come with wings that stick to the outside of your panties to make sure it stays in place. Pads catch the blood once it's come out of your vagina and keep it from staining your underwear, pants or anything you might sit on.

    Liners are thinner pads for when you're spotting or for when you're experiencing a lighter flow. You wouldn't want to wear a regular pad when you can wear a liner, because they're so thin, it's almost like they're not even there. I can't tell you which you should, because I'd rather have you try both tampons and pads and determine which you're more comfortable with.

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