Before disposable pads were invented, women had to rely on rags, cotton, and/ or sheep’s wool placed in their underwear to catch period fluids during menstruation. Modern menstrual pads derived from a group of French nurses looking for new methods to stop excessive bleeding, particularly for use on wounded soldiers. In 1888, the first disposable menstrual pads were created, and called the Southball pad. The disposable pads did not take very long to catch on in America and in 1896 Johnson & Johnson developed their own version called Lister’s Towel: Sanitary Towel’s for Ladies. Since then, various manufacturers have brought many different types of disposable menstrual pads to market. Each brand selling menstrual pads offer different options, including absorbency (ranging from light to heavy), scented, unscented, size (length and width of pad), as well as style (i.e. with wings or without). Regardless of the exact type selected, all disposable menstrual pads are extremely easy to use.
Pads can be used anytime while you have your period. The average amount of blood loss per period is between 10 to 35 ml. A normal sized pad can hold about 5 ml of blood. This means that it is normal to soak through seven normal-sized pads during your period. Although the amount of blood may only require seven pads, the safe length of time to wear a pad will likely require you to use more. Most women experience menstrual bleeding for four to six days. Depending on your flow you should plan to change your pad between four to six hours.
Pads are used inside of your underwear, to catch and soak up the blood that is discharged from your vagina during your period. Menstrual pads have one side that is fully absorbent and a sticky strip on the other side that holds the pad in place in your underwear. The sticky side should be placed on the fabric of your underwear. You should check your pad every couple of hours during the day to see if it needs to be changed. Pads should be changed before it is fully soaked in blood to avoid leaking. Your period will not maintain the same flow the entire time: you will have some lighter flowing days and some heavier flowing days. It can be helpful to make use of the different pad sizes available during your period. Adjust which pad you use so it properly correlates to your needed absorbency. If you start to notice a smell, change your pad. There are many scented or deodorant pad options available, sometimes these versions can cause skin and/ or vagina irritation. Pads should not be worn when you swim. Pads are intended to soak up liquid, and if you go swimming with a pad it becomes ineffective as it will soak up tons of water, leaving little or no room for period liquid. When used correctly, pads are extremely discrete and no one (except you) will be able to see that you are wearing one.