When it comes to your period, paying attention to your menstrual flow can pay off in several ways. Obviously, it can simplify your life to know when to expect your period and plan for having tampons on hand to help you manage it.
Beyond convenience, knowing your flow is also important for your health. If your flow is too heavy, it can cause health problems, or it might signal a medical condition. And even knowing the right tampon sizes to use can have an impact on your health. No joke.
There’s a lot to know about your period flow, so let’s go!
Is my period normal?
If you’ve had more than a few periods, you know what’s normal for you, but you may wonder if your flow is like others. Most periods last 3-7 days, but all days aren’t the same. It’s normal for your flow to change through your period. Typically, there are 1-3 days that are heaviest, then it tends to taper off over the rest of your period, becoming light or “spotty” toward the end. It’s also totally normal to have an irregular period - maybe your period starts late, you bleed more heavily than normal, or you missed your period entirely, that can happen. Check out this guide on Irregular Periods to learn more.
What tampon size should I use?
First of all, tampon size has nothing to do with vagina size (and there’s no such thing as a “wide-set vagina”)! It’s all about absorbency. Bigger size tampons are for heavier period flow. Smaller size tampons are for lighter flow. It matters because the safest way to use tampons is to always use the lowest absorbency that will manage your flow. That’s why Tampax Pearl has 5 tampon sizes for your period flow needs: Light, Regular, Super, Super Plus, and Ultra absorbencies.
What size tampon is best for light, medium or heavy flow?
With 5 different sizes, you have a lot to choose from, but sometimes you just need an answer! Tampon sizes are based on the amount of fluid they absorb. Most women use a Regular absorbency. If you want to start with the smallest size tampon until you figure it out, try the Light size. Tampon leaks in just a few hours? Go Up; Tampon uncomfortable to change? Go Down. Most of us find that a regular or higher absorbency tampon, such as a super size tampon is best in the beginning of a period, then you may switch to a light size toward the end. As you get the hang of it you might find using a multi-pack with several sizes (like this Tampax Pearl Reg/Super multi-pack works best for you and your periods!
What’s the best tampon size for beginners?
If you’re new to Tampaxing, you definitely want to start with a tampon that will make your first insertion and removal easy. As mentioned before, most women use a Regular absorbency tampon. If you want to start with the smallest size tampon until you figure it out though, we recommend trying Tampax Pearl Light, it’s slender, easy to insert, and is designed for smooth removal on your lightest days. Once you’ve used a tampon a couple of times, you can switch to the tampon size that works best for your flow. Tampon size has nothing to do with your experience using tampons or your body size, but it’s all about using the best size that works for your flow. Check out this guide for first time tampon users on how to insert a tampon.
How do I know if a tampon is managing my flow?
Ideally, a tampon should last about 4-6 hours. If you remove a tampon after 6 hours and it still has a lot of “white” showing or it’s uncomfortable because it feels dry, you should go down a size. If you fill or overflow a tampon in less than 4 hours, go up a size.
How do I know if my tampon is full?
Sometimes it’s hard to know when it’s time to remove your tampon and you obviously want to remove your tampon before it leaks. Tampax tampons have a LeakGuardTM Braid to help stop leaks before they happen. If you get to 8 hours and there’s no leak, it’s time to take the tampon out whether it’s full or not - that’s just healthy hygiene.
How many pads or tampons should I use in a day?
You can change your period products for different reasons, not just because they’re always full, so there’s not an exact answer here. However, 3-6 products per day (pads or tampons) is normal. If you’re using less than that, you may not be changing them enough for health and hygiene. If you’re using more than that because they are filling up fast or leaking, you may want to try a bigger size.
How heavy is too heavy?
A lot of us live with heavy periods and never even realize their flow isn’t normal. A heavy flow isn’t just a “nuisance” it can lead to medical problems or can be a sign of a medical problem. The medical diagnosis for heavy periods is menorrhagia.
If you lose too much blood with each cycle, your body can’t make new blood cells fast enough to keep up, and you develop a condition called anemia (which is a low blood count). Anemia not only makes you feel horrible (headaches, dizziness, and fatigue), but it also affects your brain function - so obviously you would want to get that treated.
It’s completely normal for your gynecologist to ask about heavy periods and they obviously don’t get out a measuring cup, so they have other ways of figuring out if a heavy flow is too heavy. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, your flow may be too heavy and you should speak with your doctor. Don’t ignore heavy periods.
- Do you use more than 7-8 products per day for most of your period?
- Does your period last more than a week?
- Do you pass clots bigger than a quarter throughout the day?
- Do you often feel like you are “flooding” or “gushing” blood?
- Do you have frequent period accidents where you are ruining your clothes or bedding?
And as always, if you are worried about your periods, take your concerns to your healthcare provider.
Do I have to use tampons?
Whether you use pads, tampons, a menstrual cup or period underwear is totally up to you. There are LOTS of period products to choose from, and the choice is yours to make. Sometimes it depends on what you’re doing. For example if you want to swim during your period, a tampon makes that easy (pads don’t work in pools)! Some of us only use tampons as part of our routine, and some never use anything but tampons. It really depends on what works best for you!