Your period: The difference between pads, tampons, menstrual cups and panty liners

Have you just started your period and you are not sure which sanitary product is better for you? Here are some of your options:


The pad is rectangular in shape and made mostly out of cotton and other material. You stick it onto your panties. It absorbs the menstrual blood on the outside of the body.

Some pads have wings which are on the sides of the pad. They will go under the bottom of your panty, to hold the pad securely on the panty. Pads can also be scented (they smell nice). These are good for hot days when a pad can smell.


A tampon is tube-shaped and made out of cotton and rayon. You put it inside your vagina and it absorbs blood. It’s a good option if you are going swimming.

The menstrual cup

The menstrual cup is a silicone cup that you put inside your vagina, and it collects the menstrual blood inside the vagina. It does not absorb it like a tampon, so when it gets full, you’ll have to take it out and empty it. They are reusable, meaning you can use them over and over again.

The panty liner

A panty liner looks like a pad but it is thinner and lighter. It doesn’t absorb as much as the pad, so it’s better to use it on the last day of your period when the period is light.

The best way to know what works for you is to give each one a try. Everyone is different, so choose the product (or products) you are comfortable with.

Read more about your period in our article Menstruation Facts: What is your period?

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B-Wise User Modiselle 26 June 2018 18:29

How can you overcome your fear of using a tampon?

B-Wise Expert Expert 9 July 2018 12:33

Hey there, thank you for your question. Remember tampons are not the only options you have, you can use a pad or even a menstrual cup if you feel uncomfortable using a tampon

B-Wise User Anonymous 1 June 2017 18:22

I want to know what are the side effects of panty liners if I use them every day for the whole month.

B-Wise Expert Expert 2 June 2017 12:52

Hi, There are no specific side effects but you should just be sure to change them regularly and maintain good hygiene. If you need panty-liners every day, is there spotting/bleeding/ a discharge? These are issues which may need to be checked out by a doctor or at your local clinic.