Short answer: whatever best fits your body and budget.

Did you know people used to hold up their pads with big, bulky sanitary belts? And, talking about bleeding was super taboo – so if you didn’t like using the belt, you didn’t have many other options.

Everyday I’m more thankful for modern technology.

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Today’s wide range of period products poses its own problem, though – which one should you use?

You can always access free period products on campus thanks to IGNITE’s Emergency Menstrual Products initiative. But, if you want to add some extras to your arsenal, the most important things to consider are your comfort level and budget.

Here’s the rundown on five common period products, so you can choose the right one for you:

1. Pads

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It’s simple: you stick them to your underwear and they soak up fluids. Many who menstruate start out using pads, and they remain a solid choice for people of all ages.

A pack of pads usually costs between $4 and $10 (depending on brand, size and number of pads included) and they can be found at almost all major grocery and drugstores.

Use them if:

  • You like overnight protection – pads can be worn while you sleep!
  • You don’t want to insert anything.
  • You want quick, easy cleanup.

Skip them if:

  • You’re trying to live more sustainably – pads are single-use and end up in landfills.
  • You have a busy schedule – pads need to be changed every few hours.
  • You’re super active – pads can lose their stickiness when you sweat, so they could come loose in your pants.

2. Tampons

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Like pads, tampons work by absorbing blood. However, unlike pads, tampons are inserted into the body. They’re pocket-sized, typically made of cotton and come wrapped in plastic.

Tampons cost about the same as pads, too – they generally range between $5 and $15 per pack (depending on brand, size and number of tampons included) and can be found at almost all major grocery and drugstores.

Use them if:

  • You’re planning a beach day – because they work from inside the body, tampons are safe to wear while swimming.
  • You’re on the go – tampons are compact and easy to carry with you.
  • You want something discreet, or don’t want to see blood.

Skip them if:

(Tampons get a bad rep for causing TSS, but it’s less common than you think. As long as you change yours regularly, you should be safe.)

3. Period Underwear

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It’s like underwear with a built-in pad. You can wear it instead of other products, or in combination with other products if you have a heavy flow. Period underwear usually absorbs the equivalent of two to four tampons and costs between $35 and $60 per pair, depending on the brand.

Use it if:

  • You’re trying to live more sustainably – period underwear can be washed and reused!
  • You have a light flow.
  • You want something to back up your tampon or menstrual cup.

Skip it if:

  • You have a heavy flow (and don’t want to supplement with a tampon or menstrual cup).
  • You hate doing laundry – period underwear needs to be washed after every use.
  • You’re on the go – changing your period underwear in a public bathroom can be a hassle.

4. Cloth pads

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Another pad variation! These ones work like regular pads – but, like period underwear, they can be reused.

Reusable pads generally cost around $15 to $25 each, depending on the brand.

Use them if:

  • You’re trying to live more sustainably – reusable pads can be washed and reused!
  • You don’t want to insert anything.
  • You like pads, but don’t like fussing with those sticky wings.

Skip them if:

  • You like to wear tight clothing – cloth pads can be bulkier than disposable ones., which can make your leggings uncomfortable.
  • You’re super active – cloth pads can shift around while you move.
  • You don’t want to “feel” your period – pads catch blood after it’s left the body, so you may occasionally be reminded it’s there.

5. Menstrual cups

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These things have had a pretty impressive come up in the last few years. They’ve been around since the early 1900s, but they used to be made of aluminum (ouch).

Thankfully, companies like DivaCup have modernized the device – it’s safer, more comfortable and quickly becoming a widespread favourite.

DivaCups work by collecting blood from inside the body and generally cost around $40 each. But, they’re reusable – so you’ll quickly get your money’s worth.

Use them if:

  • You’re trying to live more sustainably – DivaCups can be reused!
  • You have a busy schedule – you can leave a DivaCup in for up to 12 hours, depending on your flow.
  • You’re prone to sensitivity – DivaCups are made of medical-grade silicone with no harmful chemicals!

Skip them if:

  • You don’t want to deal with blood – because they collect fluid instead of absorbing it, DivaCups need to be emptied after each use.
  • You just got an IUD – it’s best to wait at least three months between getting an IUD and using a DivaCup.
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Still not sure if a DivaCup is right for you? Tune in to IGNITE’s free, virtual Let’s Talk Menstrual Cups workshop on Microsoft Teams Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon!

A DivaCup expert will walk you through everything you need to know and give you the chance to ask your cup-related questions in a safe environment.

Oh, and we’ll send you a promo code to redeem a DivaCup for free!

Interested? Simply register for the live session!

Rest is especially important during menstruation. Here’s how to hack your internal clock for a great night’s sleep.

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