It has been estimated that people who menstruate lose up to 80 mL—six tablespoons—of blood when on their periods. Given that the average sanitary pad absorbs about five mL of fluid, people might need over 10 sanitary pads over the course of one period.
That said, we believe that the key to both minimizing waste and boosting comfort during that time of the month lies in the understanding of how the product absorbency works.
Therefore we have several tips for choosing the right products for each day of the period.
Although the droplet sign on the packaging indicates the absorbency level (regular, heavy, extra heavy), it is not the only indication of product performance. Actually, it is worth looking up the materials used for absorbent layers.
Pads that are made entirely out of cotton tend to not absorb that much liquid and become rather wet. Cellulose-based menstrual pads are a little bit bulkier and hold more fluids, so they are better for light flow days. More absorbent pads have ADL— acquisition distribution layer also called airlaid paper, which draws in the moisture and passes it to the absorbent core made of absorbent gel or SAP—super absorbent polymer.
However, not all SAPs are made equal as some of them have a higher absorbency rate than others and can soak up several hundred times their weight. That said, some SAPs can cause skin irritation, therefore, we suggest looking into hypoallergenic or organic pads, which do not irritate the sensitive areas as much.
Speaking of liquid absorption capacities of other period products, light tampons can hold up to 3 mL, super tampons up to 12 mL, and menstrual cups—even up to 30 mL (largest sizes).
People tend to experience the heaviest flow at the beginning of the period cycle—on the second day, meaning, they might require the most absorbent products.
Therefore, for the second day of the period we recommend choosing longer pads, especially for the night, or those designed to absorb the extra heavy flow. If you are especially concerned with leaks, it is actually a good idea to use postpartum pads since they have the best absorption level. Speaking of postpartum, we also suggest avoiding tampons or menstrual cups so as to let the intimate area heal after childbirth.
For people who want to eliminate the risk of leaks, we recommend wearing period panties together with a pad, a tampon, or a menstrual cup since they have a built-in absorbent layer that will protect more than regular underwear. Some period panties allow tucking in the pad wings, so the panties can soak up any leaks and prevent staining the clothes.
Expert tip for people who use menstrual cups: you should have two cups in different sizes—a larger cup for heavier flow days, and a smaller one for regular flow.
Product absorption rate is important but so is correct menstrual hygiene, in order to eliminate any odors or discomfort. A sanitary pad should be changed every 3-6 hours, a tampon also every 3-6 hours but it should not be worn longer than 8 hours. Period panties should be changed and washed every day, and a menstrual cup should be emptied 3-4 times (or as needed) a day on the days with the heaviest flow. We also recommend using a pad instead of a tampon for nighttime.
However, if you experience an extremely heavy period when you need change the pad or the tampon every hour, you should contact a medical professional, as excessive bleeding might indicate other underlying issues.