While getting your first period might have been an exciting experience (yay, womanhood!), it also becomes an annoying part of your month that you have to plan around. You avoid wearing white pants. You break out the leggings and your favorite “period underwear.” You might skip the beach trip. Hey, you might even plan vacations accordingly, so Aunt Flo doesn’t have to join you.
And, in addition to all those “inconveniences”, you have the monthly expense of period control (and emergency chocolate). Fortunately, there are many feminine hygiene products available to teens, and women for that matter, to use for period control that can make your cycle more bearable.
- Tampons: Tampons are inserted into the vagina and catch the blood before it leaves the body. Most tampon distributors suggest changing your tampon as frequently as needed, and before the 8-hour mark to avoid the risk of infection. One risk of tampons is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria from wearing a tampon too long.
- Pads: Pads attach to the inside of your underwear and absorb blood as it leaves the body. Your pad should be changed every 3-4 hours, or as needed depending on your flow.
- Menstrual cups: Cups collect menstrual flow, rather than absorb it. Menstrual cups can be an affordable and safe option to tampons and pads (and great if you are a bit forgetful when it comes to changing them!). Many cups are a one-time purchase, saving you cash over time. And, they can be worn 3-4x as long as a tampon or pad — up to 12 hours!
- Period-absorbing underwear: Period proof panties? Count us in. THINX spandex underwear has earned a solid reputation in the feminine hygiene space for their wide variety of options and moisture-wicking, leak-resistant, odor-controlling, and super-absorbent period panties. But, purchase with caution. Depending on your flow, these may only be a back-up to your normal period control. You can learn more about how these work on the THINX website.
- Birth control pills: Women with heavy flows may seek birth control from their health provider to avoid getting a period on a monthly basis. There are a variety of brands that make it possible to only get your period every 12 weeks instead of every month. With these birth control methods, there aren’t any new side effects as with regular birth control. But as always, you should consult your health provider, especially if you have a history of blood clots.
- Other birth control options: Other birth control methods can help control your period, too. For example, getting an IUD (which protects against pregnancy for up to five years) can eventually help space out your period, or even stop it altogether while using the birth control method. Like an IUD, the birth control shot may result in fewer to no periods over time. Because the shot only last three months (instead of five years) you’ll be making frequent visits to your provider. The shot may also cause more frequent spotting, bleeding, or mood changes. There are similar changes to your menstrual flow and side effects for other birth control methods, including the vaginal ring insert and birth control implant. If you choose to go the birth control route, it’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re making the best decision for you and your health.
Remember that no matter which period control method you use that getting your period is a completely normal part of being a teenage girl! And while it may be inconvenient at times, it can tell you a lot about your body. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider on all the period control options shared here and discuss the pros and cons of each for your needs.