Tampons Vs Pads

What Are They And How Do They Differ?

By: - Health & Fitness - July 6, 2011
tampons vs pads what are they and how do they differ

In today’s industrial world, the choices for feminine products can seem a bit overwhelming.  This is particularly true when it comes to feminine hygiene products such as menstrual pads and tampons.  What makes them different? Which one is the best?  When it comes to tampons vs pads, the bottom line is generally personal preference.  The below article is intended to outline the basic differences, pros and cons of tampons v pads in order to help women make the best possible choice for themselves.

The Different Products

Tampons and pads make up an absolutely huge line product.  That said, they basically fit into two categories of protection: Inner and Outer.  Tampons and tampon-like products make up the category of “inner” protection.   The word “tampon” comes from the French “tampion” and means “to stop a hole, a stamp, plug or stopper”.   Medically, tampons of varying makeup have been used to staunch wounds for centuries and the earliest menstrual tampons date back to ancient Greece and Egypt.   In today’s market, there are several different types of “inner” protection and most of them are simply called tampons.  Traditional styled tampons are comprised primarily of cotton and/or rayon and are inserted vaginally to collect or absorb menstrual flow before it reaches the outside of the body.  These are by far the most popular kind of “inner” protection, though there are other styles as well.  An example of an alternative “tampon-like” protection is a menstrual cup, usually made of either medical grade silicone or rubber.  These cups are also worn vaginally and catch the menstrual flow but are reusable, rather than absorbent, and can be sterilized if necessary.  Less commonly used alternative tampons are sponges and handmade washable tampons.

The biggest difference when talking tampons v pads is that pads are worn on the outside of the body, against the vulva, and held in place by a piece of clothing, usually underwear.  They are also designed to absorb blood flow, but after it has left the body.  Disposable pads are typically made from a blend of chlorine bleached wood pulp, polyacrylate gels, and polypropylene and polyethylene film.   These highly absorbent products make for a very thin but highly effective lining to the undergarments, protecting clothes at the same time as being comfortable to wear.

Advantages to Different Types

There are different advantages to be considered between tampons vs pads.  One of the main ones is, of course, how they are worn.  Many women find that they are concerned about feeling clean and to them, the only way of achieving a sensation of cleanliness is by using “inside” protection like that of a tampon.  Provided the correct absorbency level is used, tampons are generally extremely effective and rarely leak.

Pads have the advantage of not being worn inside of the body and for many women, they are just more comfortable.  For many the advantages of being comfortable far outweigh the cleanliness factor and, in fact, many women do not feel that using a pad isn’t “clean”.  Both provide protection and cleanliness in their own way.

The Disadvantages of the Different Types

Tampons and pads have disadvantages that must be taken into account as well.  Tampons have long been associated with an increased risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a syndrome caused by a toxin that is produced by certain strains of staphylococcus bacteria.  While TSS is more commonly caused by other factors (such as surgery or wound infection), wearing a tampon for too long can increase the risk of the person wearing it of developing TSS.  Thankfully, despite being a serious illness, it is very rare to develop it from wearing a tampon, particularly if you are careful to follow the instructions on the tampons package and avoid wearing tampons overnight.

Another consideration in the tampons v pads debate is lifestyle factors.   Pads are a distinct disadvantage to women who swim or are heavily involved in certain types of dance or other sports.  To be quite frank, they can slip, get in the way or fail to provide the protection needed altogether.  For example, no matter how well constructed a pad is, it’s just not appropriate for use in the pool.

Ultimately the choice to be made with regards to tampons vs pads is an entirely personal one.  No one can determine for you which method of menstrual protection will serve you the best and many women choose to use both over the course of their cycle, depending on their needs at any given time.  There is no wrong or right choice; it is all about what works for you in the moment.


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