How often should I change my pad/tampon?

Pads should be changed as often as needed, before the pad is soaked with blood. Each woman decides for herself what works best. Tampons should be changed at least every four to eight hours. Make sure that you use the lowest absorbency tampon needed for your flow. For example, use junior or regular absorbency on the lightest day of your period. If you use a super absorbency tampon on your lightest days, you may have a higher risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but sometimes deadly disease. Young women may be more likely to get TSS. Using any kind of tampon, at any absorbency, puts you at greater risk for TSS than using pads. The risk of TSS can be lessened or avoided by not using tampons, or by alternating between tampons and pads during your period.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following tips to help avoid tampon problems:

  • Follow package directions for insertion.
  • Choose the lowest absorbency for your flow.
  • Change your tampon at least every four to eight hours.
  • Consider alternating pads with tampons.
  • Know the warning signs of TSS (see below).
  • Don't use tampons between periods.

If you have any of these symptoms of TSS while using tampons, take the tampon out, and contact your doctor right away:

  • sudden high fever (over 102 degrees)
  • muscle aches
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness and/or fainting
  • sunburn-like rash
  • sore throat
  • bloodshot eyes