Heavy menstrual flow: What is the best period product?
Right from sanitary pads to tampons and menstrual cups, there are many period products for women. While every woman or girl needs to be careful about picking the right menstrual product, those with heavy flow have to look for ones that can prevent leakage well.
If we go by a study published in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in August 2023, menstrual discs may be better than sanitary pads or tampons for dealing with heavy flow. As per the study, on average, menstrual discs hold the most blood at 61 ml. As for pads, tampons and menstrual cups, they hold about 20 to 50 ml.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, can be caused by factors like hormonal imbalances, uterine fibroids and medications, says
Dr B Gowthami, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Milann Fertility and Birthing Hospital Kumarapark, Bengaluru. But hormonal imbalances, especially an excess of estrogen relative to progesterone, can lead to thicker uterine lining and heavier periods.
Menstrual products for heavy bleeding
It is difficult to say which period product is best for heavy bleeding, as the choice ultimately depends on personal preference and comfort. But some options are:
• High-absorbency pads that need to be changed after every four to five hours.
• Tampons can be suitable for some, but it’s essential to choose a tampon with the appropriate absorbency level.
• Menstrual cups collect rather than absorb blood and can hold more than tampons. They are also reusable and eco-friendly.
Menstrual discs are an alternative to traditional menstrual products. As per the aforementioned study, they are best period products for heavy bleeding. But they come with their own set of pros and cons.
Advantages of using menstrual discs
* Menstrual discs can hold more blood than many tampons or sanitary pads. This makes them suitable for heavy bleeding.
* Once the disc is inserted correctly, it can be comfortable and less noticeable than tampons or pads.
* Most menstrual discs can be reused, which means there will be less wastage, says the expert.
Disadvantages of using menstrual discs
* Inserting and removing menstrual discs can be challenging for some women.
* Emptying a menstrual disc can be messier than changing a tampon or pad.
* They may be uncomfortable for some women.
The frequency of changing menstrual products during heavy bleeding varies depending on the product type, absorbency and individual flow. For tampons and pads, it’s generally recommended to change them every four hours or when they become saturated to prevent period leaks and reduce the risk of infection. Menstrual cups and discs can typically be worn for up to 12 hours before emptying, but this can vary depending on your flow, the expert tells Health Shots. It’s essential to follow the product’s instructions and monitor your flow to find out when to change it to maintain hygiene and prevent leaks.
Tips to keep in mind while using pads and tampons for heavy bleeding
Even though there are many period products, sanitary pads and tampons are the ones that are widely used by women every month. To use them safely and comfortably, there are several points to keep in mind –
1. Choose the right absorbency
Select a pad or tampon with the appropriate level of absorbency for your flow. For heavy menstruation, you’ll likely need a high-absorbency product. Pads usually come in different sizes and thicknesses, while tampons have different absorbency levels, usually indicated by the number of drops or size.
2. Change frequently
Regardless of whether you use pads or tampons, it’s crucial to change them frequently, especially during heavy flow. Pads should be changed every four hours, while tampons should be changed every four to eight hours. Changing them regularly helps to prevent leakage and discomfort.
3. Practice good hygiene
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after changing your sanitary product to minimise the risk of infection, Dr Gowthami tells Health Shots.
4. Comfortable fit
Ensure that your pad or tampon is positioned correctly. Pads should be centered in your underwear, while tampons should be inserted far enough (but not too far) into the vagina. If tampons are uncomfortable or painful, try a different size or type.
For extra protection, especially during nighttime, you can use both a pad and a tampon or consider menstrual cups as a backup option.