Regardless of a woman's stage of life, she needs feminine products to maintain hygiene, comfort and to carry on with her day-to-day life. In addition to products used during the menstrual cycle, there are a variety of products for everyday use to improve vaginal freshness and health. Here are a few tips to help choose the right feminine care products for your needs.
Pads and Liners
The type of pad or liner you like to wear is a matter of personal preference. However, there are a few things to consider when choosing the right one for your needs.
Thickness - Menstrual pads range in thickness from maxi to liners. Super or maxi pads have a thick cushion and offer maximum absorbency, which is ideal for heavier flows. Regular and ultra thin are compressed and have a super absorbent core. They are a more discrete option and ideal for lighter flows. Panty liners are the thinnest option. They are designed to handle spotting and other mild vaginal discharge.
Length - The length of the pad or liner affects coverage and absorption. Regular lengths completely cover the vulva and provide adequate absorption for light to regular flows. Longer pads extend farther to absorb more and to provide necessary coverage for heavy flows or overnight protection.
Wings - These adhesive strips extend from the side of the pad or liner to provide extra protection and guard against leaks from the side.
Tampons offer more freedom of movement and are more discrete than sanitary pads. When selecting a tampon, consider the following options:
Absorbency - Like pads, tampon absorbency ranges from light to super. Light tampons have a slimmer design and are often more comfortable for first-time users or those with a light flow. The other sizes correspond to how light or heavy the menstrual flow is. Variety packs with light, regular and super tampons are helpful to accommodate the changes in a single cycle.
Applicator - Tampons are available with plastic, cardboard or no applicators. Plastic applicators are easier to use and stand up better to wear and tear when carried in a purse or pocket. Cardboard applicators are biodegradable and less expensive than plastic. Tampons without applicators allow women to use their finger to guide the tampon into place, which can be more comfortable than a straight applicator.
Scented - Perfumed tampons are designed to mask odors. People with allergies and sensitivities should stick with unscented varieties in order to reduce irritation when wearing.
In order to prevent irritation, itching and other discomfort, women should avoid using regular soap when cleaning delicate areas. Instead, a number of feminine washes that are gentle and pH balanced are designed to maintain comfort and freshness.
Washes and Bars - Designed for women of any age, these gentle cleansers are used while bathing to wash away bacteria that cause unpleasant odors. They are available in sensitive and scented formulas and as bars or washes to match a woman's personal preferences.
Cleansing Cloths - These disposable cloths are used at any time throughout the day whenever a woman needs extra freshness.
Douches - Douches are devices used to irrigate or clean the vagina. Some come with specially formulated washes; however, some women opt to use douches with natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar or water. Douching helps to reduce odor or rinse away blood after a menstrual period.
Sprays - Scented sprays provide external odor protection. Users apply them to underwear or panty liners to mask unpleasant odors. Because these sprays are designed for use in the vaginal area, they reduce irritation that other types of perfumes and body sprays might cause.
Powders - Deodorant powders absorb odors and moisture. Talc and cornstarch are common ingredients. Users apply powders liberally to the vaginal area to increase comfort and freshness.
Personal Lubricants and Moisturizers
It is common for women to experience vaginal dryness after menopause or for other reasons. Lubricants and moisturizers help relieve discomfort caused by dryness. Lubricants stay on the surface of the skin and act immediately. They are available in water-, silicone- and oil-based formulas. Moisturizers absorb into the skin to mimic the natural secretions of the vagina.
Yeast Infection Care
Over-the-counter yeast infection treatments are available as creams or suppositories. Creams come with an applicator to make them easy to use, but suppositories are not as messy to apply. These non-prescription medications combat the yeast that causes the infection. Treatments come in one-, three- or seven-day formulas depending on the severity of the symptoms.
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