During your period, it’s important to wash well every day. Your blood might smell bad and the moisture can irritate your skin. Bacteria can also develop if you don’t wash properly. To prevent irritation, infections, and discomfort, take a shower every day and wash your vulva, the entrance to your vagina, and your buttocks with soap.
To keep your clothes clean, use tampons, sanitary napkins (pads), or a menstrual cup. You can choose the kind of protection that suits you best based on comfort and your activities. If you go to the pool, for example, you can’t swim with a sanitary napkin but you can use a tampon or a menstrual cup.
Here are the different kinds of protection and how to use them:
There are different kinds of pads for light, medium, and heavy flow. If you like, you can use thinner pads at the beginning and end of your period and thicker ones when your flow is heaviest. Remove the little strips on the bottom of the pad and stick it to the crotch of your panties. You can change the pad when you see that there’s lots of blood in it or when you feel uncomfortable.
Tampons are inserted into the vagina with a finger or an applicator. The plastic or cardboard applicator works like a syringe. Insert it gently and push the applicator’s plunger into the thicker part of the tube, which contains the tampon. The plunger will push the tampon out of the tube and into place in your vagina. Then remove the empty applicator. When you feel some dampness, it means your tampon’s full and needs to be changed.
The first time you put a tampon in, it’s normal not to know how to do it! For help, read the instruction leaflet inside the box. You can also ask for help from a good friend, a parent, or a health care professional.
Important! After 8 hours, you absolutely must remove your tampon even if your flow is light! Otherwise, bacteria can grow, causing what’s called toxic shock syndrome, an infection that can lead to death in just a few hours.
Like a tampon, a menstrual cup is inserted into your vagina. It’s a bit trickier than the other methods and you need to stick your fingers farther into your vagina to insert it. You have to empty the cup 2 or 3 times a day on average and clean it well with soap after each use, which can be embarrassing in a public washroom! However, the menstrual cup has some advantages: it doesn’t need to be changed as often and it’s more hygienic than sanitary napkins or tampons.
As you see, there are several kinds of protection. The important thing is to choose the best one for you! If necessary, ask for help from a pharmacist or another health care professional.