The Sanitary Napkin Or Menstrual Pad

A sanitary napkin or menstrual pad is one of the main products used by women to absorb menstrual blood and maintain menstrual hygiene.

Unlike in the years past, the major issue facing women today is not availability but multiplicity of options to chose from.

The types and brands out there are just so many that finding what is right for you at first may seem daunting.

In this article, I will present a general overview of sanitary napkins as well as the brands available so that you will not only be informed of what is now available but will be better placed to choose what is best for you.

Sanitary Pads History

Early pads

Menstrual pads did not start recently. They have always been there as long as women have been having periods.Throughout the ages, women have always used some form of pad to control menstrual flow. Women in the past have often used folded cloth, as menstrual rags, to absorb menstrual blood. Fabrics varied widely and could be made from grass,animal skins,wool, cotton, etc. In fact there is a recorded story of Hypatia, one of the first female Greek Mathematicians in the 4th century, who could do nothing else other than throw one of her menstrual rags to turn off a man who will not relent his steadfast admiration of her!

More detailed information and some photos could be got from the Museum Of Menstruation which is an online resource.

Disposable pads

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Major turn around came in when disposable pads made their way in, through Benjamin Franklin’s idea of caring for wounded soldiers.It was only in 1898 when Johnson & Johnson company made the first commercially available disposable sanitary napkin, with other similar developments in the

1920s when Kotex pads were introduced.These were initially not available to many women then because of high cost.

Then the challenge of maintaining the pads in place and preventing leaks had to be handled. First, the pads were made to have a backward and forward extension to fit into a belt around the waist! The next advance was the use of an adhesive strip placed on the bottom of the pad for attachment to the saddle of the panties to secure it in place.

This rapidly became popular and replaced the belted forms by the mid 1980s. Today, many designs and fabrics have evolved include wings, reducing pad thickness etc.

Comeback of reusable cloth

There has been a rising trend of the use of reusable sanitary napkins from as early as the 1970s. Reasons include financial, environmental, comfort or even health issues. The financial reasons are even more prominent these days.

In the US alone, it has been estimated that each year, about 7 million tampons and 12 million pads are disposed!

Types Of Sanitary Products

Different types of menstrual products are available today for women to absorb menstrual blood. They could be disposable(used only once) or reusable.

These include

  1. Sanitary napkins or pads: They are usually rectangular in shape and worn in the underwear to absorb menstrual flow. They are the most widely known.
  2. Tampons: These are disposable cylinders of treated material usually containing cotton. They are inserted into the vagina.
  3. Menstrual cups: These are indeed cup-shaped as their name suggest. They are made of soft plastic or silicon and to be placed inside the vagina to receive menstrual blood.
  4. Sea sponges: Used as tampons.
  5. Cloth menstrual pad. Cloth placed between the legs to adsorb blood.
  6. Padettes: These are disposable wads of treated cotton material that are placed within the inner labia to absorb menstrual blood.

Types Of Menstrual Pads

Many different pads are now available including

  1. Regular. A middle range absorbency pad.
  2. Panty Liner.Perfect for light menstrual flow, spotting, or as a backup for tampon use.
  3. Ultra-thin A very compact (thin) pad, which is still absorbent but less bulky.
  4. Maxi / Super A larger absorbency pad, useful for the start of the menstrual cycle when menstruation is often heaviest or for heavy menses.
  5. Nocturnal.A longer pad to allow for more protection while the wearer is lying down, with an absorbency suitable for overnight use.

Manufacturing differences

Each manufacturing may produce pads with some added features such as

  • Variation in shape, absorbency and length to suite different women.
  • The use of wings or tabs to secure it in place and prevent blood leakage.
  • Deodorants may be added to prevent menstrual odor. This may cause itching to some women.

Using Sanitary Products

Select what is best for you based on your body size, amount of menstrual bleed, personal comfort, and your activities such as sports where tampons are usually a better option.

  • Some women use two types of pads, a thicker one for heavy flow days and a thinner one for light flow days.
  • You may want to try out different types to find out which one is best for you. This is especially true for teenagers who may have to try something else if the first one they were advised to use is not suitable for them.
  • Change pads before they get saturated. That may be every few hours, depending on the flow.
  • Teenagers may not be comfortable putting a tampon so may want to start with a sanitary napkin


Return From Sanitary Napkin To Mensuration Home

Pads Or Tampons. On Which Side Of This Ongoing Discussion Do You Stand?



Women have had different preferences. There might even be instances where either pad or tampon is best. Which do you prefer-pad or tampon? Share on.

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