If you are wondering how often should you change your pad, then read on for more details!
Menstruators constitute many people worldwide, with about 1.8 billion menstruating every month. One of the most frequently asked questions related to the menstrual cycle is how often you should change your pad.
After a certain hour, it leads to increased risks of bacterial infections. So, after how many hours of usage do you change your pad?
This article will contain some terms and information we will need to answer the question, like the menstrual cycle, pads and their types, some substitutes, and how long a pad can be kept before disposal.
We will also see how pads and related menstrual products should be disposed of. Let us explore this in detail!
1. About Menstruation
Menstruation refers to the monthly bleeding of a person, and the menstrual cycle is the process of menstruation. Menstruation is casually referred to as ‘period’ or ‘menses’, and involves a week of bleeding, with many other symptoms like cramps and headaches.
For a little background, the period occurs when the progesterone and estrogen hormones are released, and as they build up, it causes the lining in the womb to prepare for a fertilized egg.
And when the fertilized egg is absent, the lining breaks and causes bleeding. Periods are usually used to detect whether an individual is pregnant through the vaginal opening.
There is no correct answer to how much period flow one gets, as it completely depends on the individual’s diet, exercise, stress levels, and more. To elaborate, there are fluctuations when the criteria used to see the period flow is not optimal.
One clear sign is when your period stops for an indefinite amount of time, mostly due to high-stress levels.
2. Some More Information About Periods
The period is seen as the beginning of puberty, accompanied by many other bodily developments. Some changes include breast enlargement, increased height, and voice changes.
The age range for when menstruators will begin their period is usually between the ages of 10 and 15. But, as mentioned above, it depends upon the individual’s lifestyle, nutrition, and genetic factors.
Some terms that will often pop up are menarche (the first period), menopause (the last period), menstrual hygiene, menstrual cycle, mood swings, cramps, body aches, and blood flow. We will also discuss period products like pads and tampons.
3. About Menstrual Products
Some of the frequently used products are panty liners, pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and period underwear.
With the increase in period awareness and the environment, the concept of reusable period products (like period underwear) has taken a rise, and many have started relying on them more than single-use products like tampons and pads.
As reusable period products are relatively new, single-use ones like tampons and sanitary napkins are the most used. And, comparatively, menstruators prefer tampons over sanitary napkins, as they are easier to store and more comfortable for people who exercise more often.
Before pads and tampons, menstruators used cloth rags, and these products were considered to be unhealthy for the vaginal openings, causing infections if not washed properly.
Hence, period pads were introduced commercially during the late 1800s to make them more comfortable and to reduce the fear of accidental leaks at all times.
Pads are of many types, mostly to favor different ranges of blood flow, from heavier to lighter flow ones. They are also considered to be a healthier option than tampons, especially organic pads.
As sanitary napkins have been getting more pricey, menstruators tend to avoid purchasing pads as they often cause a period rash. So, how often should you change your pad during your period? Let us elaborate on that!
4. Factors That Affect Blood Flow
Period blood flow is a crucial aspect to know about, as this is another sign to keep in check on when to change your sanitary pad.
As we discuss when to choose pads, we also need to list some factors that will help us understand it better.
4.1. Physical Activity
According to reports, it is said that athletes have a lesser blood flow than the average menstruator. And in many cases, athletes do not get periods at all. This is because of their hormonal changes.
Hence, changing sanitary napkins would be different for them concerning the menstrual flow. This is seen majorly in younger athletes or people who started playing sports at a young age.
If you are a menstruator who exercises intensely, your carbohydrate intake also determines your period flow. Hence, this is an aspect one should not ignore.
A continuation of carb intakes, the flow partially relies on what you eat and drink and when you consume them. Having higher protein foods can help control the sugar levels in the blood.
Apart from this, there are pain-relieving foods during your period, like herbs and home remedies. If one does not have regular calorie intake, their period can be very irregular and may even stop the period for a while.
This constitutes the aspects of weight gain and loss, too.
4.3. Stress Levels
People with higher stress levels tend to show clear signs of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), and have symptoms ranging from Premenstrual cramps, bloating, mood swings, and nausea.
When cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase, ovulation stops for a while. The effects of the stressors, like anxiety, on periods usually do not last long.
And if they do, you should consult a doctor as it may be something serious.
4.4. Extra Medications
Another crucial factor is the effect of extra medication on our periods.
Many prescribed and non-prescribed medicines, like Aspirin, birth control pills, and ones that are taken during hormone therapy and cancer, take a toll on the durations of the cycle and the intervals between them.
When taken regularly, or in cases of over-consumption, the period will be irregular for the first few months. If it does not resume, then a doctor consultation is required.
5. When To Change A Pad?
The amount of pads a menstruator uses per day depends on their flow. It also depends on the thickness of the sanitary napkin that they prefer. But, on average, menstruators use 3-5 pads per cycle daily. There are also many types of pads, like ultra-thin pads, that depend on different absorbencies.
According to health reports, you should not keep a pad on for more than 4 to 6 hours, no matter how heavy or light the flow is. Many menstruators, especially during the last day of their period, wear a pad for more than 8 hours as their period week comes to an end for the month, causing rashes, irritation, and bad odor.
As the trapped moisture accumulates, the risk of bacterial infections increases, which may lead to long-term effects.
With people raising awareness about the period, this question has gained more importance. As period products evolve, so does knowing certain health risks that come from them.
The chemicals used to bleach sanitary napkins, which is chlorine, are said to cause hormone dysfunction, pelvic diseases, and even cancer in some cases.
Change your pad during the prime rule intervals during heavy flows, as they may cause frequent stains.
Concerning the type of pads we use, they contain certain chemicals, including chlorine, that will be really dangerous for the body. Hence, one should change the pad at least every three to four hours.
Many studies have been conducted to see what chemicals are used to make sanitary napkins, and the results were shocking. Though used for their positives, the chemicals can cause severe irritation and may even pose reproductive issues in the long run.
6. The Time Of Day
The duration of how long the pad should stay on also depends on what time of the day you are wearing it. In period commercials, they often show different types of pads for the same cause.
Someone who sleeps for an average of 8 hours at night is advised to wear XXL pads (especially menstruators on heavy days), and they are more bulky compared to the normal ones.
Changing pads every three to five hours, even during sleep, is advised to avoid overflow and keep the place clean. During the morning, afternoon, or evening, it is advised to maintain the prime rule of changing pads every three to five hours.
Wearing the same pad during menstruation accumulates a lot of moisture, causing irritation, hence remembering the prime rule. We should worry about rashes and heavy irritation that may occur following the rash.
Whether it is lighter flow days or heavy ones, it is important to remember how often you should change your pad, as it prevents bad odors, and you should be careful. As different pads have different absorbent levels, it also depends on the pads used.
7. Toxic Shock Syndrome
When keeping a pad overnight, with excess trapped moisture, the individual tends to show symptoms of toxic shock syndrome.
It is when a bacterial infection worsens and causes symptoms of hard rash followed by skin irritation, low blood pressure, vomiting, diarrhea, and related.
Toxic shock syndrome is considered to be a rare and life-threatening infection. It depends on the prolonged usage of menstrual products, especially pads and tampons.
TSS is usually associated with tampons, but we can not ignore the risks of getting infected using pads. Toxic shock syndrome is not to be completely ruled out while menstruating, especially if wearing the same pad for longer.
We must remember that our pelvic area can be a breeding ground for bacteria; hence we should stay dry and clean. Be it heavy flow or lighter days, pads should be frequently changed to avoid wearing a damp pad at all times.
8. Period In The Present
In many parts of the world, Menstruation was, and still is, considered a taboo topic to talk about. The period is considered dirty and impure, where most women have restrictions imposed on food and worship.
Though many think that the world has become more liberal on this, many communities still have the same thought. Many NGOs have come up with schemes to introduce menstruation awareness all across the world, and some have succeeded, too.
To elaborate on the same, boys are mostly not taught about period education in schools. And if they are taught about it, reports suggest they are unsatisfied with the information given.
With context to taboos and stereotypes, menstruation has its own strings of myths to break. Some include how menstrual blood is not impure, the difference in mood swings, and how menstruators are not always wearing a pad.
Such myths only arise due to what most people think, and when one is educated enough about this topic, the world will automatically become a better place.
To sum it up, we have discussed the basics of menstruation, certain terms associated with it, factors affecting menstrual flow, and period products. We have also discussed how the topic of menstruation is treated today and, most importantly, how often should you change your pad, depending on the time of the day. The prime rule of pad change is every three to five hours, is when we should change them.
While menstruating, it is important to stay dry and stay comfortable. Our health is our number one priority, and following a good menstrual hygiene schedule, especially on how often you should change pads, is a step forward. Hope we covered everything on “how often should you change your pad.”
A Journalist in the making, S. Disha is currently pursuing her university studies in the field of Media and Communication. She shows immense interest in the fields of Science, Travel and Literature.