Which tampon sizes do you need? Know your flow

Various tampon sizes

When it comes to your period, paying attention to your menstrual flow can be beneficial for several reasons. Obviously, it can make your life easier to know when to expect your period and to be able to plan for it by having tampons on hand.

Beyond convenience, knowing your flow is also important for your health. If your flow is too heavy, it can cause health problems, or it might even be a sign of an existing medical condition. Even knowing the which tampon sizes to use and when can have an impact on your health. Read on to get to know your flow.

Is my period normal?

If you’ve had more than a few periods, you probably know what’s normal for you by now, but you may wonder if your flow is like other people’s. Most periods last 3-7 days, but all days aren’t the same. It’s normal for your flow to change throughout the duration of your period. Typically, days 1-3 are the heaviest, then it tends to taper off over the remaining days, becoming light or ‘spotty’ towards the end. It’s also totally normal to have an irregular period – maybe your period starts late, you bleed more heavily than normal, or you’ve skipped a month entirely, all of which can happen. Check out this guide on irregular periods to learn more.

What tampon size should I use?

Firstly, it’s important to clarify that tampon size has nothing to do with vagina size (and there’s no such thing as a “wide-set vagina”)! It’s all about absorbency. Larger tampons are for heavier period flow and smaller tampons are for lighter flow. This is important because the safest way to use tampons is to always use the lowest absorbency that will manage your flow. That’s why Tampax Pearl has four different absorbencies for your needs: Light, Regular, Super and Super Plus.

What size tampon is best for light, medium or heavy flow?

With four different sizes, you have a lot to choose from. Tampon sizes are based on the amount of fluid they absorb, with most women using a Regular absorbency. If you want to start with the smallest size tampon until you figure it out, try the Light size. If your tampon leaks in just a few hours, then go up. If your tampon is uncomfortable to change, then go down. Most people find that a regular or higher absorbency tampon, such as a super-size tampon, is best for them at the beginning of their period, then they switch to a lighter absorbency towards the end.

Can I use a tampon for spotting?

No. You should never use a tampon for spotting or discharge. Using a tampon in anticipation of bleeding, or as a precautionary measure could harbour infection, as tampons need moisture to expand and work properly. Use a pantyliner or sanitary pad instead.

What’s the best tampon size for beginners?

If you’re new to Tampaxing, you should definitely start with a tampon that will make your first insertion and removal easy. As we mentioned, most women use a Regular absorbency tampon. If you want to start with the smallest size tampon until you figure it out though, we recommend trying Tampax Pearl Compak Light Regular; it’s slender, easy to insert, and is designed for smooth removal on your lightest days. Once you’ve used a tampon a couple of times, you can switch to the tampon size that works best for your flow. Tampon size has nothing to do with your experience using tampons or your body size – it’s all about using the size that works best for your flow. Check out this guide for first-time tampon users on how to insert a tampon.

How do I know if a tampon is managing my flow?

Ideally, a tampon should last about 4-6 hours. If you remove a tampon after six hours and it still has a lot of white showing, or it’s uncomfortable because it feels dry, you should go down a size. If you fill or bleed through a tampon in less than four hours, go up a size.

How do I know if my tampon is full?

Sometimes it’s hard to know when it’s time to remove your tampon, and you obviously want to remove your tampon before it leaks. Tampax tampons have a LeakGuard™ braid to help stop leaks before they happen. If you get to eight hours and there’s no leak, it’s time to take the tampon out whether it’s full or not, for hygiene reasons.

How many pads or tampons should I use in a day?

People change their period products for different reasons, not just because they’re always full, so there’s no right answer here. However, 3-6 products per day (pads or tampons) is normal. If you’re using fewer than that, you may not be changing them enough to maintain health and hygiene. If you’re using more than that because they are filling up fast or leaking, you may want to try a bigger size.

How heavy is too heavy?

A lot of people live with really heavy periods and never even realise their flow isn’t normal. A heavy flow isn’t just a nuisance, it can also lead to medical problems, or even be a sign of an existing medical problem. The medical diagnosis for heavy periods is menorrhagia.

If you lose too much blood with each cycle, your body can’t make new blood cells fast enough to keep up, and you can develop a condition called anaemia (low blood count). Anaemia not only makes you feel horrible (headaches, dizziness, and fatigue), but it also affects your brain function – so it’s not something you should ignore.

It’s completely normal for your gynaecologist to ask you about heavy periods – and although they obviously don’t get out a measuring cup, they have other ways of figuring out if a heavy flow is too heavy. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, your flow may be too heavy, and you should consult your doctor. Don’t ignore heavy periods.

  • Do you use more than 7-8 products per day for most of your period?
  • Does your period last more than a week?
  • Do you pass clots bigger than a 10p piece throughout the day?
  • Do you often feel like you are ‘overflowing’ or ‘gushing’ blood?
  • Do you have frequent period accidents where you are ruining your clothes or bedding?
  • As always, if you are worried about your periods, take your concerns to your healthcare provider.

Do I have to use tampons?

Whether you use pads, tampons, a menstrual cup, or period underwear is totally up to you. There are lots of period products to choose from, and the choice is yours to make. Sometimes it depends on what you’re doing. For example, if you want to go swimming during your period, a tampon will make your life so much easier (pads don’t work in pools). Some people only use tampons as part of their routine, and other people never use anything but tampons. It really just depends on what works best for you!

Why use Tampax Pearl tampons?

With so many different absorbencies and varieties available, you may be wondering which tampons to choose.

Tampax Pearl Compak and Tampax Pearl tampons expand widthways to better fit your body shape*. Our motion fit protection gives you incredible anti-leak protection, whether you’re running, diving, sliding or even sleeping. This makes Tampax Pearl, Compak and Cotton Protection are some of the best tampons out there.

So, how to choose tampons? It’s really down to personal preference and which tampon works best for you, but we think Tampax Pearl is a great choice. Take a look at our How do tampons work? article if you want to learn more.

*vs Tampax Compak