Menstruation - Pads and Tampons

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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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Comment from: stop the chaos!, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 24

'Use the lightest tampon you can' and 'change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours;' what a joke! No way is that realistic! After having kids, my periods were heavy enough that I needed super plus tampons and could never go for longer than four hours before changing them. Then perimenopause began and it got heavier requiring using two tampons together. Then getting closer to menopause the whole thing got crazy! I have a wacky schedule and never know if spotting is beginning of period or not; and look out if it is. Now it is 2 super plus tampons together with a full size pad because you never know when you get a leak. My heaviest period I needed 2 super plus tampons together and a full size pad and every 2 hours I barely made it to the bathroom and the pad was soaked through. And when I got off the toilet I could not see through the water for the blood. I went to the doctor and he referred me to a gynecologist, and that takes months to get in. Many women I know have similar experiences so is it any wonder I find the posted information on 'what size tampon to use' and 'how often to change them' to be disappointing and inadequate! Perhaps we need articles or charts designed with 'older women' in mind! There are plenty of us! We need accurate information for 'our new experiences' too!

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