Menstrual Pads

Monday, 17 March 2008

Ranging in size, absorbency, scent and shape, menstrual pads are the most commonly used form of feminine protection. We take a closer look at some popular brands to see which offers the best protection.


The Basics

  • Pad sizes range from slender, regular, long, wide, and overnight (or similar labels).

  • The absorbency of a pad is designed to handle different levels of flow, from light to heavy. Make sure you buy the right absorbency for your needs, no matter what size you find most comfortable.

  • Some different types of pads you’ll see on the shelf include:

    • Maxi Pads: are thicker (and bulkier) because they use many layers of material and usually have an absorbent core. Good for high-flow days.

    • Ultra thin maxi pads are thinner than regular maxi pads because they use different material (e.g. gel) to hold the liquid. These typically work have the same absorbency as maxi pads but may not hold as much so may require more frequent changing.

    • Reusable Pads are an environmentally-friendly option you wash yourself. They’re made from comfortable fabric like cotton fleece with a moisture-resistant lining. They last about 3-5 years.

    • Pantiliners are meant to provide a thin layer of protection for those very light days. Tampon users may wear a pantiliner as well, just in case the tampon fails.

  • Pads with wings are popular for that extra peace of mind. Wings are extra flaps on the side of the pad wrap over the edges of your underwear to help the pad stay put.

  • Some pads have a top layer that draws moisture to the core, leaving the surface that’s touching you skin dry, similar to the technology in a diaper. This technology is called “dri-weave” by some brands.

  • Overnight pads are longer and keep you better protected while you sleep.

  • Most pads are unscented, but some pads are scented or have a deodorant. If you don’t like scented pads, remember to read the label!

Be Aware

  • Scented pads can cause irritation or an allergic reaction in some sensitive people.

  • The plastic lining of pads protects your clothes but is not great for your skin because it traps moisture. Make sure you change your pad frequently so your skin gets enough oxygen.

  • An alternative to pads, tampons provide internal protection, which is especially handy for days when a pad just isn’t convenient (e.g. when swimming). Just make sure you follow the health recommendations and don’t use tampons for extended lengths of time.


We recruited some friends and colleagues to help us test these maxi products to see which worked best.

Lab Test

First we conducted an absorbency test to find out which held the most liquid and found that the Always ultra thin held the most.

Usage Test

  • All of our testers like the environmentally-friendly idea of the NatraCare, but they didn’t work very well.

  • The Exact were very uncomfortable. One tester compared it to a wedgie!

  • The Kotex pads were really difficult to remove from their packaging without ripping the pad itself.

  • The Stayfree performed poorly overnight.

  • Always offered the best protection and most comfort overall.


For overall comfort and absorbency we like Always Ultra Thin.



top of page | | back to posts |
  • Subscribe to the A&K Newsletter