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Tampons vs. Pads: When & How to Use them Comfortably

By Ruby Moon (she/her) from Team August | 7.27.2022

The age-old question: “What’s the best period product to use?”

The answer is that there’s no concrete answer – it’s up to you. (body autonomy, baby!) You should never feel pressured to wear a product that doesn’t feel comfortable for you.

How do you decide then? We’d recommend considering a few different factors:

  • Comfort
  • Accessibility
  • and whether or not you care about what’s entering your body👀

Let’s get into it then…

Comfort – How should a tampon feel when it’s in?

Levels of comfort are very dependent on the body and the activities you’re doing while on your period.

Say you’re going swimming – a tampon may be better suited since it is an internal period product.

  • When you enter the water, your flow doesn’t fully stop, but based on physics, the water pressure keeps the blood in.
  • We’re not against wearing a pad in the water because it might be seen (no shame here!) but based on the fact that it will bulge up as it absorbs the water you’re in is not ideal.

Okay say you’re just sitting at a desk all day or lounging around – maybe a pad is the move here.

  • Again, let’s think physics – more specifically gravity – your menstrual flow will be coming out on a slight tilt while sitting, but that angle isn’t guaranteed. So, you might want a menstrual pad for extra surface area coverage.
  • Plus, they’re so comfy and totally fit the “sitting around all day” vibes, especially in the case of August’s ultra-soft organic cotton pads.

Basically, you can choose to be a tampon-only person, stick to your August pads, or alternate based on how you’re feeling, what you’re wearing, and what you’ll be doing.

What size tampon should I get? "Someone wrote in that book that I'm lying about being a virgin 'cause I use super-jumbo tampons, but I can't help it if I've got a heavy flow and a wide-set vagina?" – Mean Girls

Not all periods are created equal. Remember, tampon size is related to flow, NOT to vaginal size.

Check out the official August Absorbency check HERE!

Ultimately, the size of the tampon you choose is based on your flow.

  • If you are a first-time user who’s interested in using tampons, we’d recommend starting with a lighter tampon first, then try out a few different sizes as you get to know your flow (i.e. when you have to change the product out, the texture, consistency, etc.)
  • You should be monitoring the ratio of blood to white on the tampon when you take it out.

Your flow might change throughout your period; heavier when your period starts and lighter toward the end (or vice versa!).

  • If there’s still quite a lot of white space on the tampon after removing it between 4 and 8 hours, then you might prefer a lower absorbency tampon.
  • If you tend to bleed through the entire tampon or leak onto clothing, you might prefer a heavier absorbency.

Can you always feel the tampon when you wear it? Not necessarily, it should fit comfortably if inserted correctly.

Key tip: after you wash your hands, push the tampon in at a 45 degree angle and stay relaxed. They are made to be put inside the upper part of the vagina, the furthest away from the vaginal opening. When a tampon is inserted correctly (pushed far enough in) you shouldn’t be able to feel it.

The moral of the story is that comfort = key! Prioritize your comfort as you choose your period products.

Accessibility – insertion, hygiene, and cost

We’re not gonna lie, we get a lot of pushback about us not being the most sustainable period care option – but we never said we were.

What we’ve said from the beginning is: that we're working to reimagine a more dignified period experience for ALL while prioritizing sustainability AND high quality, ethically made products.

“For all” is our call-in for accessibility.

Here’s the truth: Sustainable period care is not always the most accessible.

Although we don’t shame anyone for the period products that they choose to use, August believes that we can reimagine standard period care (aka disposable pads and tampons) to remain accessible while pursuing sustainability.

Back in 2020, before we launched products, we actually polled our community to find out what they were missing within current period product offerings.

The responses were clear: they loved tampons & pads because they are more accessible for younger menstruators, people living in period poverty and don’t necessarily have consistent access to sanitation facilities (think about washing reusable pads out), and those with mobility challenges (i.e. inserting a menstrual cup).

In addition to our actual products, we ensure that yours orders are as low-cost as they can be while remaining ethical, AND we cover the tampon tax in U.S. states where it still exists because are periods really a luxurious enough experience to be taxed as such?! (they’re powerful but not always elegant…)

So, when you’re deciding between period products, make sure that you consider your needs in terms of insertion, hygiene, and cost!

Materials – What are pads and tampons made of?

It turns out that most pads and tampons aren’t actually made with cotton like you’d think.

Most are made of synthetic material like rayon or SAPs (Super Absorbent Polymers) which are often bleached with chlorine to give them that pristine white look.

It’s true that some other pads and tampons are made with cotton – but it tends to be traditionally grown cotton as opposed to organic cotton.

However, there are also more sustainable alternatives (like ours!) made from 100% organic cotton and other materials that your body will thank you for later.

You can our materials list in full detail on our Traceability page but here’s the TLDR:

  • Our pads/liners are manufactured in China and are made out of 100% organic cotton sourced from Turkey as well as biodegradable fluff pulp, FDA-approved food-grade glue so they stick to your undergarments, and Japanese super absorbent polymer (also biodegradable!). They are plastic-free and 100% biodegradable within 12 months.

  • Our tampons are manufactured in Germany and made from 100% organic cotton sourced from Turkey. They have a recyclable, plastic-based, BPA-free applicator and open axially after being inserted.

  • All of our period products are FDA approved and toxin-free, chemical-free, fragrance-free, pesticide-free, and hypoallergenic!

As you decide on which period products will suit your needs best, keep in mind the products that are healthy for the planet AND for you! (wink wink: August period care.)

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