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A guide to picking the right tampon size for your period

Summary List PlacementIf you're new to tampons, you may not know how to choose the right size for your flow. There are many important factors to consider when choosing a tampon size — you may need more or less absorbent tampons depending on how active you are or where you are in your cycle. Here's how to know when you should use light, regular, or supersize tampons. Different tampon sizes "Some women may not realize but the tampon size actually corresponds to the amount of flow absorption rather than the actual size of the tampon itself," says Jennifer Wider, MD, a medical...

tampon sizes

Summary List Placement

If you’re new to tampons, you may not know how to choose the right size for your flow. There are many important factors to consider when choosing a tampon size — you may need more or less absorbent tampons depending on how active you are or where you are in your cycle.

Here’s how to know when you should use light, regular, or supersize tampons.

Different tampon sizes

“Some women may not realize but the tampon size actually corresponds to the amount of flow absorption rather than the actual size of the tampon itself,” says Jennifer Wider, MD, a medical advisor for the Society for Women’s Health Research.

This means that light tampons are a similar length — about two inches long — but are slightly slimmer and can’t absorb as much fluid as regular or super tampons. In general, the absorbency sizes are:

tampon sizes

Some brands may offer even more absorbent sizes like super plus, which hold 15 ml and ultra, which hold up to 18 ml.

How to pick the best tampon size for you

If you don’t know which tampon size to choose, trial and error may be your best bet, says Christine Greves, MD, an OB-GYN at Winnie Palmer Hospital.  

However, it’s best to start with whichever size you think corresponds to your flow. So if you think you have a lighter flow, choose a light size, but if you think you have a heavier flow, stick to regular to start. 

If whichever tampon you choose doesn’t leak any blood for four to six hours, you’ve most likely chosen the right size, Greves says. If not, size up. If a lot of white is still showing after six hours, you may be able to size down.

It’s always best to choose the lightest tampon size that works for you, because higher absorbency tampons carry a higher risk of a serious and potentially deadly infection called toxic shock syndrome.

Insider’s takeaway

Tampon sizes vary based on how much they absorb, and you can choose which size is best for you based on the lightness or heaviness of your flow. 

Moreover, you should always use a tampon that’s absorbent enough to prevent leaks, but also choose the lowest absorbency that works for your period.

“Everyone is different, it’s important to know your body and choose products based on comfort level and what works best for you,” says Wider.

If you’re having a hard time finding the right size, or your flow is too heavy for super size tampons, reach out to your OB-GYN who can help.

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