Most women use something to absorb or catch their menses. There are a number of different methods available.
- Sanitary napkins (Sanitary towels) or pads — Somewhat rectangular pieces of material worn in the underwear to absorb menstrual flow, often with "wings," pieces that fold around the undergarment and/or an adhesive backing to hold the pad in place. Disposable pads may contain wood pulp or gel products, usually with a plastic lining and bleached. Some sanitary napkins, particularly older styles, are held in place by a belt-like apparatus, instead of adhesive or wings.
- Tampons — Disposable cylinders of treated rayon/cotton blends or all-cotton fleece, usually bleached, that are inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual flow.
- Padettes — Disposable wads of treated rayon/cotton blend fleece that are placed within the inner labia to absorb menstrual flow.
- Disposable menstrual cups — A firm, flexible cup-shaped device worn inside the vagina to catch menstrual flow. Disposable cups are made of soft plastic.
- Reusable cloth pads are made of cotton (often organic), terrycloth, or flannel, and may be handsewn (from material or reused old clothes and towels) or storebought.
- Menstrual cups — A firm, flexible bell-shaped device worn inside the vagina to catch menstrual flow. Reusable versions include rubber or silicone cups.
- Sea sponges — Natural sponges, worn internally like a tampon to absorb menstrual flow.
- Padded panties — Reusable cloth (usually cotton) underwear with extra absorbent layers sewn in to absorb flow.
- Blanket, towel — (also known as a draw sheet) — large reusable piece of cloth, most often used at night, placed between legs to absorb menstrual flow.
In addition to products to contain the menstrual flow, pharmaceutical companies likewise provide products — commonly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — to relieve menstrual cramps. Some herbs, such as dong quai, raspberry leaf and crampbark, are also claimed to relieve menstrual pain; however there is no documented scientific evidence to prove this.
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