Tampons Or Towels?

A helpful guide to the different sanitary products available for your period.

If you’re too nervous to ask about sanitary products or are feeling confused about how to use a tampon correctly, we can help!


Many girls find towels a good option because they’re easy to use. Towels have sticky backs and little wings to fit snugly into your underwear and they come in all shapes and sizes. You may need to try a few different ones before you find the right fit for your body and flow.

You can use bulkier pads for bedtime or for heavier periods. Some girls will use a pad as well as a tampon for extra protection, especially if they’re prone to heavier bleeding and are worried about blood leaking through to their clothes.

You can wear a towel or pad for exercise but not for swimming or in the bath. The pad would become wet and heavy, making it ineffective for soaking up blood. You should change your towel every few hours – you can put a used towel in the bin when you need to change it.


Pantyliners are very similar to towels but are much thinner and less absorbent. Many girls use these for times when your period is much lighter or for discharge. You could use a towel for days when your period is heavy and then switch to a pantyliner as your period starts to come to an end and the flow becomes lighter.


A tampon is a small tube made of cotton wool which is inserted in the vagina to soak up blood. There is a length of string attached to the tube which hangs outside the vagina. You can then pull the string to remove the tampon when you need to change it.

Tampons come with or without a cardboard or plastic applicator and you may have to experiment with both styles before you decide which one you prefer. There’s a helpful instruction leaflet with every box of tampons to show you how to insert it. Here are a few handy hints to help you with inserting a tampon correctly:

  • Try to relax your body before inserting a tampon. It can be much more difficult if your muscles are tensed up.
  • You can use a handheld mirror to help you guide the tampon inside.
  • Try a few different-sized tampons until you find the right size for you.
  • You shouldn’t be able to feel your tampon if it’s inserted correctly.

It’s very important to change your tampon every 3-6 hours to avoid leaks and keep yourself clean. You shouldn’t wear a tampon for more than 8 hours so you might want to use a towel overnight and then switch back to tampons through the day.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

TSS is a rare but serious bacterial infection that has been linked to using tampons. That’s why it’s so important to change your tampon regularly to keep the area clean. You can read more about TSS on the leaflet in your box of tampons or here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/toxic-shock-syndrome/


Some people prefer to use menstrual cups. These are small, reusable silicone cups, designed to sit inside the vagina to catch the blood. You can wear a cup for 6-12 hours and then simply remove it, wash it out, and reinsert it.


  • You should NEVER put sanitary products down the toilet. Always dispose of it in the nearest bin.
  • A tampon can’t get lost inside you – that’s a myth.

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