How Often To Change Pads Or Tampons During Period

Change Your Tampon for Safety

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Do you wonder how often you should change your pads or tampons during your menstrual period? The type of product you use and how heavy your flow is will make the difference in how long it is wise or safe to wear it before changing it.

How Often to Change Tampons - Every 3 to 5 Hours

If you use tampons during your periods, aim for wearing a tampon that is saturated and needs changing every 3 to 5 hours.

Make sure you change them at least every 4 to 8 hours to help prevent a rare but potentially fatal disease called toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

You should always use the lowest absorbency tampon necessary for the amount of menstrual flow you are experiencing on each day of your period. Using super-absorbency tampons on the lightest day of your period potentially puts you at risk for TSS. Those most at risk for TSS include women under thirty, particularly teenage girls. While you might think you are saving yourself a tampon change by wearing one that is more absorbent, in reality, you are increasing your risk of this deadly condition.

Think of needing to change it in the morning, then again by lunch, again at dinner, and then before bed. Before going to school or work, take along an extra two or three tampons so you have them available when needed.

If you are starting to see leaks after one or two hours, you might need a higher absorbency tampon during that part of your flow.

But even if you aren't seeing any leaks, you need to change your tampon every 6 to 8 hours for safety. If your tampon isn't saturated by that time, you should think of switching to a lower absorbency tampon.

Don't believe it if someone tells you that only certain types of tampons put you at risk for TSS.

That just isn't true. It doesn't matter if the tampon is made of the purest cotton or of rayon -- all tampons could potentially put you at risk for toxic shock syndrome if not used properly.

How Often to Change Pads

During your periods, pads or sanitary napkins should be changed as often as necessary to prevent the pad from becoming soaked with menstrual flow. You will learn to know how long you feel comfortable before you change pads during your periods.

In the case of pads, you decide what works best for you as there isn't the risk of toxic shock syndrome. You can wear a pad overnight or for six hours or more during the day. If you have a heavy flow, you will need to change it more often and bring along supplies when you are away from home. You may find that the pad develops an odor after several hours and so you may want to change it for that reason. A starting point may be to change your pads every six hours.


Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Menstruation and The Menstrual Cycle. NWHIC.

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