Key Difference Between Sanitary Pad and Tampon

Difference Between Sanitary Pad and Tampon

Menstruation is a natural process experienced by women, and it necessitates the use of menstrual products for comfort and hygiene. Two popular options are sanitary pads and tampons. Both serve the purpose of absorbing menstrual flow, but they differ in design, usage, and personal preference.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the differences between sanitary pads and tampons, address frequently asked questions, and ultimately discuss which option might be better for periods based on individual needs.

One of the major differences between sanitary pads and tampons is that tampons and cups go inside your vagina, while pads are worn in your underwear.

Sanitary Pads vs. Tampons

Let’s take a brief look at tampons and sanitary pads, and their pros and cons.

Sanitary Pads

Sanitary pads, also known as sanitary towels, are rectangular absorbent pads that are placed in the underwear. They come in various sizes and thicknesses to accommodate different flow levels.

Sanitary pads are made of absorbent material that absorbs and retains menstrual fluid. They have adhesive on the back to keep them in place and wings on the sides to provide additional leakage protection and comfort.

  • Pads are better for women who have heavy periods as they can absorb more blood as compared to a tampon.
  • Pads are easy to use as compared to tampons and are great for overnight use. You can wear them for longer periods of time.
  • With pads, there is no risk of toxic shock syndrome (TTS). Studies show women who wear menstrual pads have a lower risk of developing TSS, as compared to women who use tampons.
  • You cannot swim with the sanitary pads on. They are likely to get soaked thus resulting in leakage.
  • Pads are less discreet. It is nothing to be ashamed about or to hide, but if you prefer a more discreet option, a tampon is the way to go.
  • With pads, you have to be careful about movements as they can shift out of place, causing leakages.


Tampons, on the other hand, are cylindrical-shaped products inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual flow. They are typically made of cotton or a blend of rayon and cotton, and they come in various sizes and absorbencies.

Tampons have a string attached for easy removal. They work by expanding to fit the shape of the vaginal canal and absorbing the menstrual flow directly at its source.

  • One of the biggest advantages of tampons is their small size. Tampons are small and can easily be carried in your pockets.
  • Unlike pads that are bulky, tampons are practically invisible and can’t be seen through tight clothing.
  • Tampons are great for swimming. With the tampon, you can go swimming or engage in other sports activities without having to worry about it moving around much as in the case of pads.
  • Tampons are hard to insert. Some tampons come with applicators, but it’s still difficult, especially for beginners.
  • As tampons are inserted into the body, they might dry out your vagina which leads to irritation in most cases.
  • Tampons cannot be used overnight. The longer you have the tampon in, the more likely it is to cause irritation which also leads to infection.
  • Perhaps one of the biggest cons of using a tampon is the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Although rare, it can lead to the development of bacteria in your vagina which could be life-threatening for some people.

Difference Between Sanitary Pad and Tampon

1. Design and Usage

The primary difference between sanitary pads and tampons lies in their design and usage. Sanitary pads are worn externally, adhering to the underwear, while tampons are inserted internally into the vagina.

Sanitary pads provide external coverage and are suitable for individuals who prefer not to insert anything into their bodies.

Tampons, on the other hand, offer internal coverage and are considered a more discreet option, as they are not visible from the outside. It is also optimal for activities like swimming on your period or wearing a fancy dress.

2. Absorbency and Protection

Sanitary pads come in different thicknesses and absorbencies to accommodate different flow levels. They provide reliable protection against leaks and are suitable for overnight use or when a high level of absorption is needed.

Tampons, on the other hand, are available in various absorbencies, ranging from light to super. They offer protection by directly absorbing menstrual flow, making them suitable for individuals with an active lifestyle or those who prefer a more discreet option.

3. Comfort and Sensation

Comfort and sensation can vary between sanitary pads and tampons, and this is highly dependent on individual preferences and body anatomy. Some people may find sanitary pads more comfortable, as they are worn externally and do not require insertion.

Others may find tampons more comfortable, as they are not visible and allow for greater freedom of movement. It is essential to try different products and sizes to find the most comfortable option.

4. Health and Hygiene Considerations

When it comes to health and hygiene, both sanitary pads and tampons have their own considerations. Sanitary pads may be preferred by individuals concerned about the potential risks associated with tampon usage, such as toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Tampons require careful insertion and removal to minimize the risk of TSS, and they should be changed every 4-8 hours to maintain hygiene. Sanitary pads, on the other hand, are easier to use and dispose of, reducing the risk of infection when proper hygiene practices are followed.

Now you know the difference between sanitary pad and tampon. I hope it helps in making the right choice for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wear a tampon and a sanitary pad together for extra protection?

Yes, some individuals choose to use both tampons and sanitary pads simultaneously for added protection, especially on heavy flow days. This combination can provide an extra layer of security against leaks.

Are tampons more comfortable than sanitary pads?

The comfort level of tampons versus sanitary pads can vary from person to person. Some individuals may find tampons more comfortable, as they are inserted internally and offer a sense of freedom during physical activities.

Are there any alternative menstrual products to consider?

Yes, there are alternative menstrual products worth considering, such as menstrual cups and period panties. Menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina, collecting menstrual flow rather than absorbing it.

Period panties have built-in absorbent layers that can be worn alone or as backup protection. These alternatives offer different levels of comfort, protection, and environmental sustainability.


Now you know the difference between a sanitary pad and a tampon. The choice between sanitary pads and tampons ultimately depends on personal preference, comfort, and lifestyle.

Sanitary pads offer external coverage, ease of use, and reliability against leaks, while tampons provide internal coverage, discretion, and convenience for individuals with an active lifestyle.

Additionally, alternative menstrual products like menstrual cups and period panties offer additional options for those seeking alternatives to traditional pads and tampons.

Experimenting with different products and sizes will help individuals find the most suitable option for their periods.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and what works best may vary from person to person.

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