sanitary pad

Everything To Know About Sanitary Pads (Sanitation Towels)

Coming of age and hitting puberty ushers in different changes. One of those changes involves the release of sex hormones at puberty. Testosterone is released in males, while females experience changes powered by the estrogen hormone. One of the important changes the female sexual hormone activates is menstruation or the menstrual cycle.

Menstruation, also known as “Period,” is the regular discharge of blood from the uterus. Menstruation signals a lack of fertilization. The number of days between the start of two menstruation windows is known as the menstrual cycle. For most women, the menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, however, some may be longer.

Dealing with menstruation can be a handful, especially if it is your first time. A sanitation towel, sanitary pad, or sanitary napkin is essential to collect the menstrual flow for easy disposal. Other options include menstrual cups and tampons.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about your Period and what you need to avoid embarrassment.

What are Sanitary Pads?

Sanitary pads are also known as pads, sanitary or sanitation towels, sanitary napkins, or feminine napkins. They are absorbent materials used to catch menstrual blood. They are often rectangular and can be attached to the inside of the underwear for a perfect and snug fit. Pads are essential for feminine hygiene, especially to prevent an embarrassing spectacle.

Sanitary pads are available in different sizes, types, shapes, absorbencies, and brands. Each available option caters to different users, depending on their size, menstrual flow, and personal preference. Some menstrual pads also come as winged, while others are wingless.

Generally, the types of menstrual pads you can choose from include;

Maxi pads:

Maxi pads are also known as super pads. They are large absorbency pads perfect for heavy bleeding or menstrual flow. These pads are often worn at the start of the menstrual cycle when the bleeding is heaviest.

Overnight pads

These sanitary pads are longer and are designed to keep you protected overnight and while lying down. They help you prevent staining your clothes and sheets with blood.

Regular pads

These are mid-range absorbency pads perfect for day use. Users may need to change them frequently during a heavy flow or can use them mid-way to the end of their period.

Ultra-thin or slender pads

These are compact and are as absorbent as the regular or super pads but without the bulk. They can be expensive.  

Scented pads

Scented pads can either be a maxi, mini, maternity, or overnight sanitation towel. They are scented to keep your crotch area fresh and free from foul odors.

Mini pads or panty liners

Mini pads are perfect for daily use. They absorb daily discharge and can be used to catch light menstrual flow or spotting. They have less absorbency and can be used for incontinence.

Maternity pads

These are slightly longer and bulkier than maxi pads. They can absorb urine or bleeding after childbirth (also known as Lochia). 

As described above, each pad has its specific use. For example, girls and women with heavier menstrual flow or bleeding may choose the maxi pads. In contrast, those experiencing lighter bleeding can go for the mini pads. Users may choose the winged or wingless pads, depending on personal preference.

Some people often use sanitary pads in combination with tampons. This is often a preventive measure to avoid blood stains on their clothes. This combination is not advisable, especially if you aren’t experiencing a heavy menstrual flow.

How to Use a Sanitary Pad

If you’re using a sanitary pad for the first time, you should read the directions on the product label or speak to an adult family member about this. However, if you’re shy or in a position to act fast, watch the video below for guidance

Please note that your sanitary pad should be changed every 3-4 hours, even if you’re experiencing a light flow. Regular sanitary pad changes prevent bacteria buildup and can help avoid foul-smelling odor. You may need to change your pad more frequently if experiencing regular to heavy flow.

Can I Reuse My Sanitary Pad?

There are two broad categories of sanitary pads or sanitation towels based on reusability. They are;

Disposable sanitation towels or pads

These sanitary pads are perfect for one-time use. They often come with a sticky strip along the bottom, which attaches to the inner crotch area of your underwear. If winged, the wings can be folded back out to the exterior.

To remove this type of sanitary pad, tear it away from your underwear, wrap it in toilet tissue, and dispose of it in a trash can. Avoid flushing your sanitary napkins or pads down the toilet, as it could cause drain clogs.

Reusable sanitary towels or pads

These sanitation towels or pads can be washed and reused. They are available online and in natural health stores. The application is similar to disposable sanitary pads as they can be clipped to the inner crotch area of your underwear.

Some prefer this because they are reusable and environmentally friendly, however, they may attract bacteria when not properly managed.

What are Tampons?

Tampons are an alternative to sanitary napkins and sanitation towels. They are made from absorbent materials and used to absorb period blood from inside you. Unlike the sanitary pads lined on the inner section of the underwear, tampons go inside you.


Tampons can either be scented or unscented. Some come with an applicator to push the tampon up inside while others are inserted using a finger. Tampons are also available in different sizes and absorbencies, similar to sanitary pads. These sizes and absorbencies cater to the difference in menstrual flow, from heavy to light bleeding.

How to Use a Tampon 

Tampons can be inserted into the pussy using an applicator or a finger. If using your finger, ensure your hands are properly washed with soap and water before proceeding.

Watch the video below for a better description of the application process.

Changing your tampons regularly, ideally every few hours, is recommended. You can change your tampon between 4-6 hours, depending on its absorbency and period flow. Similar to the sanitary pad and sanitation towels, avoid flushing your tampons down the toilet to prevent clogs. Dispose of it properly in a trash can.

What is a Menstrual Cup? 

Menstrual cups are flexible rubber cups inserted into the reproductive organ. They are less common among girls and women, but they do the same job of collecting period bleeds as sanitary pads and tampons.

Unlike others, menstrual cups do not absorb the blood flow. Instead, they collect the blood. The cups should be emptied or disposed of as often as possible to avoid overfilling.

Why are Menstrual cups less common?

Most people don’t use menstrual cups because of the obvious flaw; they can’t know when the cup is full. Users need to check the cup and empty its content frequently. This is a significant downside, especially for people with busy days and less time to check on their menstrual flow.

Another huge disadvantage is the allergic reaction caused. Some women tend to react badly to the menstrual cup’s rubber material.

Can Menstrual Cups Prevent Pregnancy?

Menstrual cups cannot prevent pregnancy. Although they look like a diaphragm (a contraceptive), they can only collect period blood and not prevent pregnancy. You should abstain from unprotected sex or see a qualified medical practitioner to discuss contraceptive options.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sanitary Pads and Tampons

What can I use as a sanitary towel?

You can use a sanitary towel, sanitary pad, or menstrual pad if you prefer the feel and comfort. However, depending on personal preference, you can also use tampons or menstrual cups. Some girls and women switch between all three options until they find what works.

What can I use if I don’t have a sanitary pad?

If your Period has arrived unexpectedly, use the following as alternatives to a sanitary pad or sanitary towel.

  • Toilet paper or paper towels
  • Clean sock wrapped in toilet paper
  • Clean washcloth
  • Cotton wool, cotton balls, or gauze.   

Please note that these temporary solutions can save you from an embarrassing situation. You should get yourself a sanitation towel, sanitary pad, tampon, or menstrual cup as soon as possible.

What’s the difference between pads and sanitary towels?

Sanitary pads are also known as sanitary towels. However, the major difference is their reusability. Sanitary pads are often for single use, while sanitation towels can be washed and reused.

Sanitary towels vs. Tampons: Which is better?

Sanitary towels and tampons are both great for collecting menstrual blood. Both options also have their pros and cons. Each individual may need to choose the better option for them based on preference, feel, and experience using sanitary towels and tampons.

How long should you wear a sanitary towel?

Sanitary towels should be changed every 3 to 4 hours, no matter how light your menstrual flow is. You should change your periods more frequently if you’re experiencing heavier flow. Regularly changing sanitary towels or menstrual pads helps prevent bacteria buildup, infection, and foul odor. 

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