Pads are rectangles of absorbent material that you stick to the inside of your underwear. Some have extra material on the sides (called “wings”) that fold over the edges of your underwear to better hold the pad in place and prevent leakage. Sometimes, pads are called sanitary pads or sanitary napkins.
Tampons (say: TAM-ponz) also absorb menstrual blood, but they work from inside the vagina. A tampon is also made of absorbent material, but it’s pressed tight into a small cylinder shape. The question all girls wonder is — how do you put them in? Some tampons have applicators, which are plastic or cardboard tubes that help put the tampon in place. Other tampons can be inserted using your fingers.
Many girls start out using pads, but might want to use tampons when they do sports or go swimming. You’ll want to talk to your mom or another woman you trust when you are trying to decide which is right for you.