Menstruation - Pads and Tampons

How often do you change your pad or tampon? Why do you prefer one over the other?

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How often should I change my pad/tampon?

You should change a pad before it becomes soaked with blood. Each woman decides for herself what works best. You should change a tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours. Make sure to use the lowest absorbency tampon needed for your flow. For example, use junior or regular tampons on the lightest day of your period. Using a super absorbency tampon on your lightest days increases your risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but sometimes deadly disease. TSS is caused by bacteria that can produce toxins. If your body can't fight the toxins, your immune (body defense) system reacts and causes the symptoms of TSS (see below).

Young women may be more likely to get TSS. Using any kind of tampon puts you at greater risk for TSS than using pads. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following tips to help avoid tampon problems:

  • Follow package directions for insertion.
  • Choose the lowest absorbency for your flow.
  • Change your tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours.
  • Consider switching between pads and tampons.
  • Know the warning signs of TSS (see below).
  • Don't use tampons between periods.

If you have any of these symptoms of TSS while using tampons, take the tampon out, and contact your doctor right away:

  • Sudden high fever (over 102 degrees)
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Sunburn-like rash
  • Sore throat
  • Bloodshot eyes
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