Menstruation, also known as a period or monthly, is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue (known as menses) from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. The first period usually begins between twelve and fifteen years of age. The typical length of time between the first day of one period and the first day of the next is 21 to 45 days in young women, and 21 to 31 days in adults (an average of 28 days). Bleeding usually lasts around 2 to 7 days. Menstruation stops occurring after menopause. Periods also stop during pregnancy and typically do not resume during the initial months of breastfeeding.

Things have changed over the years, and there are many more products available now to manage your period than were available when I was a teenager. Here is a rundown of all of the items I could find:


Pads are rectangles of absorbent material that attach to the inside of your underwear and catch menstrual blood. They’re sometimes also called sanitary pads or sanitary napkins. Some pads have extra material on the sides. These “wings” fold over the edges of your underwear to help hold the pad in place and prevent leaking.

There are many different types of pads, including:

  • super
  • slender
  • overnight
  • scented
  • maxi
  • mini


Tampons absorb blood from inside the vagina. A tampon is also made of absorbent material, but it’s compressed into a small tube. Tampons come in different sizes and absorbencies for heavier and lighter periods. Some tampons come with an applicator. An applicator is a plastic or cardboard tube that guides the tampon into the vagina. Other tampons are inserted using a finger.

It’s very important to change tampons every few hours and that you wear the absorbency type that is right for you. Change a tampon every 4–6 hours or when it’s saturated with blood.

Menstrual Cup

Like a tampon, a menstrual cup is inserted into the vagina. Instead of absorbing blood, the cup catches it before it flows out of the vagina. Menstrual cups are made of flexible materials, like rubber or silicone. You can’t see when the cup is full, so empty it (or, in the case of disposable cups, throw it away) several times a day. Instructions that come with the cup explain how to do this.

Period Underwear

Also known as period panties or modibodi. This underwear is reusable. They have built-in liners that provide absorption similar to 3 tampons. They are designed to avoid leaks, are stain proof and discreet

More information on what’s available