Answer: 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.
If you use tampons during your periods 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 or TSS. 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 toxic shock syndrome. Those most at risk for TSS include women under thirty, particularly teenage girls.
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, or what absorbency it is – all tampons put you at risk for toxic shock syndrome.
Your risk for toxic shock syndrome may be lessened by alternating between tampons and pads. For example, many women use tampons during the day and pads at night during their periods. Other methods for reducing your risk for toxic shock syndrome and other problems resulting from tampon use that are recommended by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA include:
- Always read and follow the directions for tampon insertion on the brand that you purchase.
- Learn which absorbency is right for your menstrual flow and choose the appropriate tampon absorbency.
- Change your tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours.
- Think about alternating pads with tampons.
- Know the signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome.
- Don’t use tampons between periods.