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Tampons vs. Pads: The Complete Comparison Guide

You’ve got more options for period care than any other generation before you, but it can be hard to decide which is the best product for your body and lifestyle. At Rael, we not only bring you all the options you want in one place, but we also make sure they’re safe, comfortable, and super protective.

The two most popular period care products available are tampons and menstrual pads. Each type of product has pros and cons, which will help you decide which one is right for you. 

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about tampons, pads, and a few other period care products you might not have thought of before. By the end, you’ll feel empowered to grab the perfect products to have a seriously stress-free period. 

All About Pads

Pads are like the OG of menstrual care products. We’ve been using them since basically the dawn of time. They’re easy, effective, and have undergone some incredible upgrades if you haven’t worn them in a while. 

How They Work

Pads work by collecting your period flow in an absorbent, leak-proof cushion of material that sits inside your underwear. Pads can be disposable or reusable. Pads stay in your underwear until they are full, at which time you simply take them out and insert a fresh pad into your underwear. 

You can wear pads any time of day or night, it isn’t usually a danger to wear them for long periods. 

Who They’re Good For

You probably started using pads the second you started your period. They’re great for beginners because they’re uber easy to use. They can also be a better option for anyone who isn’t comfortable wearing tampons or using additional protection with a tampon. 

Different Types of Pads

Pads come in numerous different shapes and sizes. Even reusable pads are available if you want to make your period eco-friendly and reduce your carbon footprint. 

  • Absorbencies. Pads range in absorbency from light to overnight and everything in between. Pantyliners are thin and usually worn with another form of period care, like a tampon, or on your lightest days. Overnight pads work great for bedtime and incredibly heavy days. 
  • Wings. Some pads have protective winged sides that wrap around your underwear. These can help if you find you tend to experience leaks by giving you an extra bit of protection and confidence. 
  • Reusable. Reusable pads are easy to use and way less intimidating than you may think. Rael’s reusable pads are made from organic cotton and are super thin yet incredibly absorbent. With proper care, you can use them over 100 times. 

What To Avoid

Unfortunately, some pads can hide sneaky, unsafe ingredients, and most of the time, you won’t know if your pads contain them unless the brand makes their ingredients list public, like Rael. 

Here are some chemicals of concern that shouldn’t be in your pads and are never in a Rael product. 

  • Fragrance. In the U.S., the fragrance is proprietary, which means a company doesn’t have to tell you the ingredients that make up the scent in your products. Who knows what kind of chemicals could be lurking in a scented pad? Take a pass on the scented products, you don’t need them anyway
  • Styrene, a carcinogen
  • Chloromethane: known to cause reproductive harm
  • Chloroethane: a carcinogen
  • Chloroform: a really harmful ingredient that is a known carcinogen, causes reproductive issues and is a neurotoxin
  • Acetone: an irritating chemical that can harm your sensitive skin

Rael’s pads are always made with organic cotton, never bleached, and never treated with chemicals that could harm your body or irritate your skin. 

Benefits of Using Pads

Pads are a staple for practically every period-having person in existence, and it’s easy to understand why. 

  • Pads are easy to use; you literally stick them inside your underwear and remove them when they’re full.
  • They’re perfect for heavier flow. They can hold more than a tampon can, which means you can wear them longer if your flow is heavier. 
  • Pads are more comfortable for some people than tampons and are the go-to for postpartum care. 

Pads are designed to hold the most flow with the least amount of material, which makes them easier to use than the pads your mom or grandmother used. 

When You Shouldn’t Wear A Pad

Sometimes, pads won’t work. If you want to participate in a water activity like swimming, you can’t wear a pad. You’ll also find it practically impossible to wear one with a swimsuit. 

Pads can slip around if they aren’t placed correctly in your underwear, which can subject you to unexpected leaks. They can also feel bulky; some users find them uncomfortable. 

Thankfully, you’ve got options. 

All About Tampons

Tampons are what you started using a few months (or years) after you started your period. We usually try them as teenagers and begin to rely on them because they allow us to do more things we can’t do with pads (like swimming).

How They Work

Tampons work by sitting inside your vagina. They’re inserted (usually with an applicator) a few inches inside your vagina and collect your period flow by absorbing it in layers of cotton that expand both sideways and up and down. 

When your tampon is full, you will remove it by pulling on the string that extends from its bottom. Tampons are flushable and not reusable. 

Who They’re Good For

Anyone can use tampons unless your doctor has said you shouldn’t. For instance, if you’ve just had a baby, you shouldn’t use a tampon. 

Tampons take a little more finesse to use than a pad, so if you’re a beginner, you might want to wait a while until you’re comfortable using them. If you find you develop yeast infections or vaginal irritation easily, pads may be a better option. 

Different Kinds of Tampons

Tampons come in different absorbancies and also with different kinds of applicators. Most tampons are made from cotton and have a cotton core. The applicator can be plant-based, cardboard, or plastic. 

Some tampons don’t have an applicator and are inserted with the tip of your finger. Even though the absorbencies range from light to ultra, you should never leave a tampon in for more than 4-6 hours due to the risk of developing toxic shock syndrome, a rare but real condition that can make you seriously ill. 

What To Avoid

Just like pads, tampons can have some scary chemicals living rent-free inside them. 

  • Fragrance. Just like with pads, you don’t need scented tampons. Fragrance that is made with undisclosed ingredients is never safe. 
  • Dioxins and furans. These toxic chemicals are byproducts of the bleaching process that makes some tampons super white in appearance. 
  • Pesticides. Found in some cotton tampons that contain non-organically grown cotton. 
  • Plastics and plasticizers. Linked to endocrine system disruption; known carcinogen.

At Rael, we only use organic cotton in our tampons, and our applicators are environmentally friendly. You’ll never find irritating chemicals in our tampons; just pure, comfortable, reliable protection. 

Benefits of Using Tampons

Tampons make it easy to enjoy an active lifestyle when you’re on your period. Tampon users can: 

  • Swim, or participate in any water-related sport
  • Wear swimsuits comfortably
  • Exercise without discomfort
  • Have protection they can’t feel
  • Enjoy complete discretion

Most users love tampons because they really do give you the ability to forget about your period...at least for a few hours. 

When You Shouldn’t Wear a Tampon

Not all period care products are right for every person. You shouldn’t wear a tampon if you have vaginal sensitivity, are developing or have an active infection, or have just had a baby. 

Tampons may also feel uncomfortable to some users, especially if you are wearing an absorbance too high for your period flow level. 

There’s also a higher risk of a noticeable leak with tampons unless you pair your tampon with a pantyliner or pad. It’s important to make sure you’re changing your tampon frequently to avoid an embarrassing situation. 

Get Rael

You might be surprised, but you’ve got even more options than just tampons and pads. Rael offers menstrual cups and period underwear which may be better for you or make different days of your period more comfortable. 

No matter which you choose, trust Rael to give you the products that help you stay comfortable, protected, and safe your entire period. We’ll never use ingredients that could irritate your skin, harm your body, or negatively impact the environment. 

Have an empowered period with Rael. 


Sources:

Menstrual & Intimate Care Products|Womens Voices.org 

Period Products - Pads, Tampons - What's in Them? 

Toxic shock syndrome - Symptoms and causes|Mayo Clinic 

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