Although there is a growing number of new ways to absorb, capture, or even stop menstrual blood, the two most common and reliable are sanitary napkins and tampons. Both are relatively affordable and easy to find in stores — whether one should be chosen over the other depends on several factors.
While both sanitary pads and tampons are made of absorbent materials that resemble fabric, pads are flat oblongs affixed to undergarments by their adhesive backing, while tampons are short cylinders inserted with a plastic or cardboard applicator. This means pads cannot be worn without underwear. Because tampons stay inside the body, they can also be used during physical activity — even swimming — when pads would be subject to leaks and other issues. Besides taking up less space in a bag, tampons look and feel less bulky under fitted clothing as well.
Sanitary pads, however, can be used before and after menstruation and when blood flow is light; tampons are more difficult to insert without blood flow, especially when the hymen is intact. Although both need to be changed every few hours, tampons are more likely to cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and urinary tract infections if left in too long, making pads a better choice during sleep and busy periods.
When it comes to tampon vs sanitary napkin, these feminine hygiene products are fairly evenly matched as long as they suit the individual’s circumstances. What’s far more important is to change them regularly.