Remember way back when to the happy day you got your first period. It’s highly likely that the sanitary product you were first shown to use by a family member or friend was the humble pad. And I think since that momentous day, we’ve probably taken our friend the pad for granted. It’s high time we recognised that this user friendly contraption that ushered your first steps into adulthood is pretty bloody amazing, if we don’t say so ourselves. So let’s take a deep dive into all the nuances of our mate, the pad.
Pads: The Origin Story
Throughout time pads have been mentioned in ancient texts and stories in one form or another. In the 4th century AD, Byzantine scholar (and historical bad ass) Hypatia is said to have thrown her bloodied menstrual rag at a suitor in an attempt to give him the YUCK. Honestly, I’ve felt the same urge on several occasions. Before pads were available to buy in stores, most women used rags of cloth to absorb their menstrual blood, hence the term ‘on the rag’. Women would wear a garter like system to hold the cloth in place under their clothes as they went about their day. Commercial pads resembling those we use today were first available around 1888 and were made of cotton or wool. In Developing Countries rags are still used to capture menstrual blood.
In recent years there has been a cultural shift towards reusable pads as awareness grows around the sustainability of sanitary products with movements like the zero waste community gaining popularity. The plastics and chemicals used in many commercial pads and tampons have been cause for concern for users of pads triggering an interest in commercially bought fabric reusable pads. These washable pads, often made from organic cotton in some really groovy designs, mean less waste in landfill and waterways and can be a cost-effective solution to buying reusable pads. The wings of the pad usually fasten around the gusset of your underwear with snap fasteners. However, you do have to be comfortable with scrubbing your period blood and any accompanying discharge clean from the fabric of the pad and leaving them out to dry in a well sunlit and breezy place, preferably outside. This may not be for everyone
Pros and Cons
It goes without saying that pads are great for beginners. They’re so super easy to use that its pretty much impossible to mess up. Rip off that strip, slap it on your undies and you’re ready to take on the world! Pads also come in a range of different shapes, sizes and absorbencies. Liners are usually for a lighter flow, towards the end of your cycle. Maxi or Extra pads are for when your flow is heavier, like at the start of your period. Regular is for an pretty even flow. There are also pads specially designed for overnight sleep, sport, pregnancy and incontinence. Actually, there are so many different kinds of pads that I just know that your pad soulmate is our there waiting patiently for you!
However, there are simply some things you just can’t do with a pad, like go for a swim at the beach for example. We’ve also all the that feeling when we’re wearing a tighter fitting item of clothing that maybe, just maybe, everyone can tell that you’re wearing a pad (they can’t). And let’s be honest, we’ve all had the unfortunate experience of having our pubic hair get stuck to the adhesive on the wings of our pad. Ouch!
Whether it’s pads or tampons for you, we think pads deserve just a little bit of recognition for all the times they’ve (literally) saved our behinds.