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Period products

There are many types of period products available. You may need to try a few before you find products you like. Learn more about period products, including how to use them and how often they need to be changed.

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What is the best product to use for periods?

A recent study tested 21 different period products to see which ones held the most menstrual blood. It found that, on average, menstrual discs held the most (61 mL) and period underwear held the least (2 ml). Tampons, pads and menstrual pads all held similar amounts (approx. 20 to 50 mL).


Tampons are absorbent 'plugs' made of cotton or a combination of cotton and a synthetic material. They are available in different sizes. You insert the tampon into your vagina and change it every three to four hours. See the packaging for instructions.

It is very rare to get toxic shock syndrome from using tampons. Symptoms of toxic shock include feeling unwell or having a fever, rash, diarrhoea or a headache. It’s important to change your tampon regularly and wash your hands before and after using a tampon.


Pads are made of absorbent material and come in a range of thicknesses and shapes. Your pad might need to be changed every three to four hours on the heaviest day of your period. If pads irritate your vulva, try 100% cotton, scent-free pads.

Reusable pads

Reusable pads are made of washable fabric and can be used instead of disposable period pads. They are usually made of absorbent fabric such as cotton or bamboo, with a waterproof lining. The don’t have a sticky side but have wings that can be fastened with clips or velcro. Reusable pads can be worn with your usual underwear. You can wash them by hand with soap and water or in the washing machine.

Period underwear

Period underwear has layers of fabric that can absorb your period. You can use period underwear alone or in combination with other menstrual products. For example, you might wear the underwear alone on lighter days. It’s recommended you change your period underwear every 12 hours. You can wash and reuse this underwear.

Menstrual cups

Menstrual cups are made from rubber or silicone. You place the cup in your vagina, over your cervix, to collect blood. The cup should be washed at least every 12 hours using fresh or soapy water.

Menstrual cups are reusable and environmentally friendly. There are several menstrual cups available, including Lunette® and Femmecup®.

You should wash your menstrual cup before inserting it and boil it before and after each period.

Menstrual discs

Menstrual discs are made from plastic, silicone or rubber. You place them in your vagina to collect blood. The disc sits inside the widest part of your vagina at the base of your cervix. It should be changed at least every 12 hours.

You should wash your menstrual disc before inserting it and boil it before and after each period.

This con­tent has been reviewed by a group of med­ical sub­ject mat­ter experts, in accor­dance with Jean Hailes pol­i­cy.

DeLoughery E, Colwill AC, Edelman A, Samuelson Bannow B. Red blood cell capacity of modern menstrual products: considerations for assessing heavy menstrual bleeding. BMJ Sex Reprod Health. 2024;50(1):21-26. Published 2024 Jan 9. doi:10.1136/bmjsrh-2023-201895
Last updated: 
22 April 2024
Last reviewed: 
25 March 2024

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