How do you manage your menstruation at night-time? What advice would you give someone who just got their first period? Our readers share their tips.
1. Explore different options
My period is very, very heavy. At night I use tampons and pads and I lie on a towel. My advice is: Explore different options past pads! Don't be afraid of tampons and cups. Use what's best for you. Use overnight pads at night, lay down many towels, and try lying on your side.
—Anonymous, cisgender female, 25, Manila, Philippines
My period is very heavy. At night I use pads, sometimes a towel, old underwear, and shorts. If I was to give advice to someone who just got their period, I’d say: I hope your period isn't as bad as mine, but find a pad or solution you can trust all night long. I use reusable pads and have one brand that works well for me.
—Anonymous, female 33, Florida, USA
To relive some of the cramping/heaviness (especially at the start of the menstruation cycle), and to just feel cleaner, I'd recommend taking a hot shower and/or bath before bedtime.
—Anonymous, female, 27, Ohio, USA
Absorbent underwear (Thinx) and menstrual cups are real life savers because you don’t have to worry as much about how long you’re using them for!
—Elizabeth, woman, 21, Ontario, Canada
I bleed a lot. At night I use a tampon, overnight pad with wings, and [take] 800mg ibuprofen. I wear older undies on heavy days, and just use overnight pads on low flow days. Being the first in my class to start at age 10, I was embarrassed far too long, and it took me forever to figure out what worked for me because I was ashamed. I'm no longer ashamed, I carry extra to help others.
—Amy, 38, female, Missouri, USA
I definitely need “night plus” pads, while wearing hipster underwear for better grip. And yes, I lie on a towel, cause I tend to change side often while sleeping, causing a bloody mess (literally!) when I have my period. I've tried tampons during in the past, but they're insufficient for the flow I have the first few nights. Also, I don't like the idea of having a tampon in my body during the whole night—it feels like extra work for my body. My advice is to try out things and see what feels best for you. There's no one-size-fits-all solution. Maybe start with pads and then build up to tampons, once you feel more confident about it.
—Anonymous, female, 33, Netherlands
At night I use tampons and wear old panties. My tip: as late as possible before going to bed, change your tampon or pads. Set an alarm to change them if necessary. After all these years, I tend to wake up just in time to prevent a potential mess. What does that say about my quality of sleep during my period? Probably nothing too positive.
—Anonymous, female, 43, Germany
2. If your flow is heavy, double up
On my heaviest day, I can fill my menstrual cup within a few hours. At night I use pads and a menstrual cup. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable and secure whilst you get used to your body and period—particularly at night! If that means combining lots of protection methods, go for it. I used to arrange several pads around my underwear, wear older underwear, older pyjamas, and put a towel (or other) underneath, as well as using a tampon. Now I am older and more knowledgeable about my own body, I do what I know works for me (menstrual cup and a pad for extra security). Take the time to figure out what suits you, your body and your period, and know that what is right for someone else is not necessarily right for you, and that’s okay.
—Anonymous, female, 23, Yorkshire, England
During my period I use night time pads plus a towel. As my period is very heavy, I will likely have to change the pad twice and bleed through the towel. I recommend multiple heat packs and electric blankets if you get full body aches like I do. And ice packs if you get migraines.
—Ruby, non binary, 29, Australia
At night I use two pads so that they cover from front to back of my underwear, tampons and lie on a towel. Doubling up on pads so they covered from the front to back of my underwear really helped me, but also remember that leaks are normal and nothing to be embarrassed about - we’ve all experienced it!
—Anonymous, female, 16, Ireland
My period ranges from medium to very heavy flow. I use maxi pads and put a towel on bed for medium to heavy flow nights, and wear adult diapers for very heavy flow. My advice: Buy long, winged night pads regardless of the heaviness of your flow—even a little blood can leak due to positioning. Get a large, dark towel for your bed and a mattress protector—that way, you won't have to scrub your mattress if you do leak. Change pad/tampon just before bed so that you get the most out of it. Adult diapers can be a real blow to your confidence, but if you have several days of very heavy flow, they're the easiest way to get a good night's sleep without having to wake up and change every two hours. Plus, you can sleep in any position.
—Adjoa, woman, 27, Ghana/UK
Don’t be embarrassed about periods, they’re a normal thing that happens! At night, I personally wear netball shorts or boy leg underwear over my normal underwear with the pad on it in case of leaks, and just for a bit of backup and peace of mind. They also make it less obvious that you are wearing a big pad!
—Anonymous, female, 21, Armidale
I use a menstrual cup and I sleep naked, so I can wash off any leakage in the morning.
You should absolutely use a mattress cover under your bed sheet! If it gets too dirty, you can throw that away much more easily, than clean blood out of your mattress. Always use a dark colored towel for drying after your shower, and if you’re sleeping over somewhere, ask for a dark towel, or bring your own. In a little purse you should always have more than enough tampons/pads, spare underwear and hand sanitizer in your bag.
—Zsóka, female, 22, Budapest, Hungary
Always have an waterproof mattress cover, use dark towel to protect sheets until you get used to your blood flow. Overnight pads might work at first, but a menstrual cup has been the best for me. Plus, you get to know your body in the process. Periods are normal, and there is nothing wrong with managing it in a way that won't cause any harm in the long run. Even if it means getting your hands "dirty."
—Laumpr, cis female, 30, Maryland, USA
3. Don’t worry about leaks
If you leak on your sheets it’s fine. Use a warm water bottle for cramps and you can drink an herbal tea before sleep for your headache or tummy cramps.
—Anonymous, female, 22, Montevideo, Uruguay
I wear pads and lie on a towel if I am in someone else’s house. My advice is to be overly cautious until you know how heavy your period is, but if you do accidentally bleed onto something it’s no big deal, just tell someone. I wouldn’t wear a tampon overnight as you might wear it for longer than the recommended 8 hours which can be dangerous.
—Anonymous, female, 18, North East England
Getting your period is an important milestone, and a happy one at that. I think we all talk about periods in such negative ways sometimes, that it makes it seem like the worst thing in the world, but it’s actually a completely natural thing, and so a beautiful one. I could give you plenty of advice, but the most important thing, I think, is to remember to not panic. You’ll get the hang of things. Don’t be afraid of trying out new things, finding the right menstrual products for you. Don’t be scared, you’ll figure it out. Even if sometimes there is a leak, it’s not the worst thing in the world, I promise. If the blood is fresh, wash it with cold water first and then put it in the washer. I have woken up with blood stains many times before and I’m still a perfectly normal human being. So no worries. :)
—Mh, female, 24, Slovenia
Light or heavy flow? Find out more about what’s a “normal” period volume, and read up on tampons, pads and more. Everyone's period is different. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your period volume.
Download Clue to track your period.