Do Tweens and Teens Need Special Menstrual Pads?

At the turn of the 20th century, the average age for an American girl to get her period was 16 to 17. Today, the average age is below than 13, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

While many doctors are careful not to name specific causes without further research, obesity, greater exposure to pollutants and food additives are among the usual suspects. There’s plenty of research that shows how certain chemicals present in our environment act as hormone disruptors and accelerate the timing of a girl’s first menstruation. 

Environmental toxins also cause many girls to develop breasts at an earlier age than in the past. Compared with 20 years ago, American girls today begin developing breasts anywhere from one month to four months earlier. 

In other words, most girls grow up sooner than the generations before, which means parents have to do the dreaded “talk” sooner, which, for girls, include a primer on feminine hygiene. 

We have been asked by moms (and a few dads, to be fair) whether tweens and teens need special kind of menstrual pads; also, if it’s OK for a teen to wear a tampon. 

First of all, let’s talk about tampons vs sanitary pads (maxi pads, menstrual pads or just pads…). Those of you who follow Genial Day on social media or visit our online store know which side of the debate our founder is on. For those who don’t know, let’s just say that Vilmante strongly prefers pads over tampons, especially for young girls. 

More of the than not, tampons contain toxic or at least dubious materials which you literally insert into you most sensitive part of the body, right where your reproductive organs are. Honestly, unless that stuff is food-grade, it probably doesn’t belong inside you. Frankly, you probably shouldn’t be putting most food items in there… just saying.

Just to be realistic, it’s OK for an adult woman to wear tampons occasionally, especially if they’re made by a brand you trust. Some polls have indicated that women frequently combine products during menstruation. A third of tampon users frequently add a pad for additional protection. Nearly half of tampon users in the U.S. indicate they add a pad when wearing a tampon. 

When it comes to tween and teen girls, we do suggest using a menstrual pad when possible. 

As far as whether pads should be “special”, the answer is yes and no.

If your tween or teen is very petite, then you may want to search for special pads for teens (size-wise). However, since girls usually start their period after the growth spurt, regular or light flow pads will work for most.

On the other hand, we do recommend “special” pads, but not in the sense that most parents think. In most cases, it’s not about special size, but other special properties. While those features are important for adult women as well, they are even more crucial for a tween or teen who is just starting her cycle. 

When looking for a pad that’s right for your tween or teen, look for the following features. 

Absorbency. Occasionally, every woman springs a leak during her period. It’s always inconvenient and potentially embarrassing. For a teenager girl… the sense of embarrassment can be multiplied by 10 and then squared. When choosing a sanitary pad brand for your tween or teen, make sure it features superior absorbency. 

Odor and bacteria control. Super absorbent pads are great, but if a pad is worn longer, there’s a greater chance of bacteria multiplying inside the pad, which may not only result in unpleasant odor but also may be a cause of skin rash and infections. A premium pad like Genial Day can be worn all day without any concerns about hygiene or infections. We employ a negative ion strip with tourmaline, among other innovations, which neutralize bacteria and protect sensitive skin.  

Organic cotton. Since most cotton crops are sprayed with some type of toxic chemicals, it is important to choose a brand that uses organic cotton. Tweens and teens are especially susceptible to hormone imbalances and infections, so make sure their reproductive organs are not exposed to tainted cotton.