Periods aren’t exactly a joyful occasion (unless you take FLO—IYKYK). Rarely will you hear a person say how excited they are for that time of the month. But given that periods are pretty much a fact of life – approximately 300 million people worldwide are menstruating on any given day – we’ve learned to deal with them. And with the help of our favorite period products, they suck a little less.
While we admit it’s a privilege to have access to period products (because period poverty is real, y’all) we wanted to give you a completely honest, real-life list of what we’ve found works best. By “we,” we mean the women behind O Positiv Health—we’ve lived through countless period days, have worked in the women’s health vertical for years, and have tested countless products & brands.
We’ve also decided to include our least favorite products to save you the trouble. Keep reading for our unfiltered opinions on the best and worst period products on the market.
Best For The Pad & Tampon-Hater: Flex Disc
Flex Disc is a disposable menstrual product that’s disc-shaped with a flexible ring rim and thin material that collects the blood. They’re made of body-safe materials, don’t pose a risk for toxic shock syndrome, and can be worn during sex. People also report fewer cramps when using a period disc because they sit in the vaginal fornix instead of the canal.
“10/10 Flex Discs are phenomenal. They’re one of the only products that are actually leak proof for a full 12 hours, even at the gym, swimming, and during period sex. Plus they’re way easier to use than menstrual cups in my opinion.”
- McKenna, Email Account Manager
“Period discs literally changed my life. That sounds melodramatic but it’s pretty accurate. I had been a tampon girl for years until period discs hit the scene. I found them easy to use, although the removal process took some getting used to, and they’re incredibly comfortable. I have less cramps than before and love that they’re safe to leave in for 12 hours. I’m also 99% confident I won’t leak when I’m wearing these. Like 'will wear a white swimsuit to the beach' level confident.”
- Michelle, Contributing Writer
Worst For The Health & Environment-Conscious: Generic Tampons
Ah, tampons. No explanation needed really. Their long-time tenure doesn’t make them a winner (though we might all agree that the product development in the industry is headed in the right direction). They’re not great for the environment and many brands are full of bad ingredients that nobody should be putting inside them.
“Tampons are my least fave period product, like negative 100 out of 10 for almost all tampons since I found out they make period cramps worse due to the chemicals they’re soaked in. Finding that out after using them for so long made me really upset."
“Half the time tampons hurt to insert, they make me cramp, they rarely stop leaks, and they’re full of chemicals. Plus the risk of toxic shock syndrome is enough to keep me off tampons forever.”
“Tampons feel horribly uncomfortable, hurt to put in and pull out, and don’t even get me started on using the string to pull them out. So gross. Plus, echoing Michelle, toxic shock syndrome freaks me out.”
- Joana, Contributing Writer
"Usually I use a cup—it works for me and is relatively sustainable. But sometimes tampons are just easier. Organic tampons are nontoxic for you and biodegradable for the environment. I like the Natracare tampons without the applicator for less plastic too."
-Lindsey, Senior Manager | Acquisition
Best For The Health-Conscious Pad Girlies: Natracare Ultra Pads
Natracare Ultra Pads are the ultimate pad for girls who love the environment, themselves, and their skin. They’re free of chlorine and rayon, and are also compostable and vegan-friendly. The wings offer great support but aren’t too bulky. These come in a package of 12, and are recommended for those with a medium to heavy flow.
“Call me basic but I've always been a fan of pads. They're just so convenient—they stay in place, they're easy to change, and they don't get all over the place. Plus they're just SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE than other products! I highly recommended the Natracare Ultra Pads Super with Wings if you have sensitive skin and have a medium to heavy flow. In addition, they are biodegradable, and I am a huge fan of anything eco-friendly.”
Best For The Pad Girlies With Heavy Flows: Always Ultra Thin Long Super Pads with Flexi Wings
These super-absorbent-yet-comfortably-thin pads really do the trick. The wings especially make a difference, helping hold them in place and providing the necessary extra bit of coverage. Always a classic, these pads don’t mess around.
“Green pads with wings are so iconic, like all pad users will know. Because without wings you’re screwed. There’s nothing worse than seeing blood on the side of your underwear because you were wingless. And they have to be the ultra thin so you don’t feel like you’re sitting on a cotton ball. These are super absorbent so you don’t have to worry.”
- Erica, Front-End Developer
Worst For The Pad Enthusiast Who Has Tried Them All: U by Kotex AllNighter Ultra Thin Overnight Pads with Wings
While you might think, what’s the difference between these and all the other overnight pads with wings? Well, according to our resident pad enthusiast, not all pads are created equal.
“Either my whole box was defective, or these guys just DO NOT stick. That's why you cant deviate from GREEN PADS WITH WINGS. They're Old Reliable, for good reason. There is nothing worse than when a pad doesn't stick well to your undies and bunches up. Or worse, starts sticking to other things. Worse things.”
Best For Heavy Flow Peace of Mind: Diva Cup
A Period cup is a reusable cone-shaped period product made from durable silicone that collects blood. Like a period disc, it can be worn for up to 12 hours depending on your flow and is safer than tampons. The Diva Cup has leak-resistant holes that help keep in place to prevent leaks and a stem for easy removal.
“The Diva Cup has just never let me down. It’s extremely user-friendly for me, and is fully in my comfort zone. Before cups were a thing, I was always a tampon girl, but switched to the Diva Cup to save money. Plus, the less plastic & packaging the better—I grew up in an extremely environmentally conscious household and try to uphold the standard.
- Emily, Senior Copywriter
Worst For The Self-Conscious Socialite: Pads
"I don't know why I'm like this, but from my first period I just inserted a tampon without consulting anyone, then told my mom after the fact. The few times I had to wear pads, I felt extremely uncomfortable, self-conscious about the odor, and like I needed to change it every hour. Maybe you really cannot teach an old dog new tricks."
Best for Minimizing PMS Symptoms: Flo PMS Relief Vitamins
These absolutely count as a period product, and they’re a product that makes your period about 1,000 times better. Beloved by everyone on this list, these plant-based vitamins feature science-backed ingredients traditionally used to help alleviate common period symptoms like hormonal bloating, hormonal acne, cramps and mood swings.*