How often should you change pads, tampons and menstrual cups?

Understanding how often to change your menstrual products is crucial for maintaining good menstrual hygiene. Let’s delve into this topic with insights from an expert.

Pads, Tampons, And Menstrual Cups: How Often Should You Change Them?
Pads, Tampons, And Menstrual Cups: How Often Should You Change Them?

A study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care indicates that inadequate menstrual hygiene is linked to a higher incidence of menstrual pain, abnormal discharge, and other perceived reproductive issues.

Maintaining proper menstrual hygiene is crucial. This involves practices such as washing your hands before and after using menstrual products, maintaining cleanliness in intimate areas, and, notably, changing menstrual products regularly. For those wondering about the appropriate frequency for changing pads, tampons, and menstrual cups, here’s a comprehensive guide.

How often should the gasket be changed

How often should the gasket be changed

A menstrual pad, commonly known as a sanitary pad, is an absorbent hygiene product utilized by women during menstruation to manage menstrual flow. It’s intended to absorb and retain menstrual blood, requiring regular changes for hygiene purposes, regardless of the flow intensity.

In discussions with the Dr. Ranjana Becon, a Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Manipal Hospital, Ghaziabad, recommends changing pads every 4-6 hours.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests changing pads every few hours, emphasizing the importance of more frequent changes during heavier menstrual flows.

Tampons need to be changed every four to six hours

Unlike pads, which are worn externally, tampons are menstrual products designed for internal use, inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood. Due to their internal placement, it’s especially important to change them regularly.

Dr. Becon recommends changing tampons every four to six hours to maintain optimal hygiene and reduce the risk of bacterial growth. It’s essential to adhere to this timeframe to minimize discomfort and potential health issues.

The Office on Women’s Health advises against using a tampon for more than eight hours due to the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare but serious complication of bacterial infections associated with prolonged tampon use.

What about menstrual cups

What about menstrual cups

Menstrual cups are considered one of the most environmentally friendly menstrual products as they can be emptied, rinsed, and reused. They have a long lifespan and typically need to be replaced every 1-2 years, depending on personal preference.

In terms of usage, menstrual cups can be changed every 6-8 hours, or they can be safely worn for up to 12 hours, depending on the individual’s menstrual flow. When used correctly, the risks associated with menstrual cups are minimal.

It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper insertion, removal, and cleaning to ensure hygiene and prevent any potential risks or discomfort.

Understanding the Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare but severe bacterial infection primarily associated with tampon use. It occurs when certain bacteria produce toxins that enter the bloodstream, affecting vital organs like the heart, liver, or kidneys.

Dr. Becon emphasizes the importance of maintaining proper hygiene and changing menstrual products regularly to reduce the risk of irritation, infection, or TSS, which can arise from prolonged use of sanitary pads, tampons, or menstrual cups. While rare, TSS can occur, underscoring the need for vigilance and adherence to hygiene practices.

Symptoms of TSS can manifest suddenly and include a high fever, rash, low blood pressure, vomiting, diarrhea, and confusion. Timely medical attention is crucial in TSS cases, as early diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing potentially life-threatening outcomes.

How To Maintain Menstrual Hygiene

How To Maintain Menstrual Hygiene


Dr. Becon recommends the following practices to maintain menstrual hygiene:

1. Practice good hygiene by keeping the genital area clean.
2. Wash hands thoroughly before and after changing menstrual products to prevent the spread of bacteria.
3. Choose sanitary products with the appropriate absorbency level for your menstrual flow.
4. Follow the instructions provided with the menstrual products, and if you experience any unusual symptoms, consult a healthcare professional promptly.


Maintaining menstrual hygiene is crucial for reproductive health. Regularly changing pads, tampons, and menstrual cups, along with practicing good hand and intimate hygiene, is essential. Tampon users should change their product every 4-8 hours to reduce the risk of TSS. Additionally, using tampons with the appropriate absorbency level can help prevent this serious condition.