From details on when to use pantiliners to concerns about how your body changes during pregnancy, get answers to your questions on all things fresh.
What is a pantiliner?
A pantiliner is a product designed to give you a way to feel cleaner, fresher and drier any time of the month and any time of the day or night. A pantiliner is thinner and generally smaller in size than a full size feminine napkin (pad). Pantiliners are great to wear as backup protection when you have your period and are using a tampon. They are also great for absorbing wetness and protecting your panties from normal discharge, perspiration, small leaks of urine and unexpected menstrual flow.
How do pantiliners work?
Pantiliners are placed in the crotch of your panties and secured to the fabric with adhesive (sticky stuff). Pantiliners usually have three layers: a top layer, a thin absorbent layer, and a back layer. The top layer allows moisture to be pulled into the absorbent layer away from your skin. The back layer helps keep moisture inside the pantiliner, away from your underwear.
How do pantiliners and pads differ from tampons?
Pantiliners and pads (also called feminine napkins) are worn outside the body. They are attached to your underwear and absorb fluid after it leaves your body. Tampons are worn internally and are inserted into the vagina. They absorb fluid before it leaves the body.
When should I use a pantiliner versus a pad?
Thin and comfortable to wear, pantiliners are a very versatile product. They can be used in many different situations. For example, if you are using a tampon, you might like to use a pantiliner, too, for a little extra protection. You might also like to wear a pantiliner when you don’t have your period, to help absorb normal vaginal discharge, perspiration (sweat) and small urine leaks. Pads are thicker and more absorbent than Pantiliners. They can offer you better protection when your menstrual flow is heavier. Pantiliners can be worn any time you want to feel a little fresher and more protected.
When are some other times I could use a liner for extra protection?
Post-sex leakage: It can be messy. Enough said! Breakthrough bleeding on the birth control pill, or irregular spotting. If this is something you experience, discuss this symptom with your doctor.
Is vaginal discharge normal when I’m not having my period?
Even when you don’t have your period, it is normal to have a certain amount of discharge from your vagina. This discharge actually helps keep the vagina clean. The name for this normal discharge is leukorrhea (lu-ker-EA). Leukorrhea is clear or white and has no odor. It is normal for your body to produce a small amount (about a teaspoon) of leukorrhea per day. During the middle of your menstrual cycle (when eggs are released during ovulation) you may notice that the discharge becomes thinner and stretchy, like the whites of an egg. Toward the end of your cycle, closer to when you actually get your period, your discharge may be stickier.
What if my discharge looks or smells funny?
Have your doctor check you out if you think you may be having discharge that is not normal (abnormal). Abnormal discharge can mean you are sick with an infection or disease that needs treatment to go away. You may not even realize you are sick. It is very important to make an appointment with a doctor if you notice any of the following:
- Any discharge accompanied by itching, irritation, unpleasant odor, or burning with urination
- An increase in discharge that isn’t normal for you
- Thick, white discharge
- Thin, gray discharge
- Mucus and pus mixed in with discharge
- Frothy yellow-green discharge
- Cottage cheese-like discharge*
*4girls.gov “Getting Your Period”
What is a vaginal yeast infection?
Yeast infections are a common cause of irritation of the vagina and vulva (area around the opening to the vagina). About 75 percent of women have a vaginal yeast infection at some time during their lives. A kind of fungus called Candida causes vaginal yeast infections. It is normal to have some yeast in your vagina. Usually yeast is in balance with other organisms. But sometimes the balance is lost, and yeast overgrowth occurs. Hormonal changes can affect the acidity of the vagina and lead to yeast overgrowth. Another common cause of yeast infections is taking antibiotics. This is because antibiotics kill not only bad bacteria, but can destroy “good” bacteria, such as Lactobacillus in the vagina. Lactobacillus prevents bad bacteria and yeast from growing out of control and causing infection.
What are the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection?
Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections in women may be mild or very uncomfortable. These may be similar to symptoms of other kinds of vaginal infections, and may include
- Itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina
- Itching, redness and irritation of the vulva
- Painful urination and/or intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal discharge, usually described as looking like cottage cheese
Make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect you have a vaginal yeast infection and have never been diagnosed before.
What can I do to protect myself from a vaginal yeast infection?
There are several things you can do to protect yourself from yeast infections. Most of them have to do with keeping the vaginal area drier.
- Wear underpants and pantyhose with a cotton crotch (wearing a pantiliner can also help keep your drier)
- Wear loose-fitting bottoms (shorts or pants) when you exercise, rather than tight fitting clothing
- Avoid wearing wet bathing suits or exercise clothing for long periods of time, and wash them after each use
- Don't use douches that can irritate the vagina
I’m having some bladder weakness issues. What’s the deal?
During pregnancy, the fetus is pushing down on your bladder. Laughing, coughing and/or sneezing can cause small amounts of urine to leak out. This is called stress incontinence. Although a temporary condition, stress incontinence due to pregnancy can continue after you give birth until weakened pelvic muscles become stronger.
For these higher absorbency needs, we recommend
I’m experiencing more discharge than before my pregnancy. Is this normal?
Normal vaginal discharge is called leukorrhea. While leukorrhea is normal for all women, pregnant women often notice increased leukorrhea. This discharge is usually whitish in color and has a mucous-like consistency.
I’m spotting. Is this normal?
During pregnancy and after delivery, some women may experience a small amount of “spot” bleeding. If you experience this kind of bleeding, notify your OB/GYN immediately, just to make sure there is nothing to be concerned about.
What can I expect now that I’m getting older?
During the years leading up to menopause, it is natural for periods to become more irregular and, therefore, less predictable. Whereas in years past your period may have come like clockwork, you may find yourself much more uncertain about when your period will arrive—and where you will be when protection is needed.
Perimenopause extends from age 45 years to age 55 years, although the timing varies among women. During this time, the ovaries produce less estrogen. Estrogen is the female hormone that controls how your body matures, your monthly periods, and body changes during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Menopause, sometimes called "the change of life," marks the end of menstrual periods and of your childbearing years. On average, the age at which American women have their last menstrual period is 51 years. When a woman has gone one full year without a period, menopause is considered complete. At this point, any bleeding should be considered abnormal and should be called to a physician’s attention.3
3. Midlife Transitions: A guide to approaching menopause. October 2003. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
What can I expect after menopause?
After menopause, it is natural for the vagina to produce less fluid. At that point, vaginal dryness becomes a problem for many women. After your periods end, your body stops making the female hormone estrogen. Some scientists believe that estrogen may help keep the lining of the bladder and urethra (yoo-REE-thrah) plump and healthy. They think that lack of estrogen may contribute to weakness of the bladder control muscles.
Pressure from coughing, sneezing, or lifting can push urine through the weakened muscle. This kind of leakage is called stress incontinence. It is one of the most common kinds of bladder control problems in post-menopausal women.
If you experience urinary incontinence, the important thing to know is that incontinence is treatable. So even though you may feel embarrassed, discuss the problems you are having with your doctor.2 For these higher absorbency needs, we recommend CAREFREE® ULTRA PROTECTION® liners, designed with a DRYFLEX® core to absorb up to ten times more than CAREFREE® Original liners.
2. NIH Publication No. 04-4132. September 2004
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