Most female hygiene products are designed to help women manage their menstrual flow as well as their concerns about natural vaginal discharge and odors. Various devices, including sanitary pads, tampons, and menstrual cups, catch and retain menstrual blood. Many companies also sell scented products, including washes, sprays, and douches, that supposedly counteract vaginal odor. Female hygiene products for menstruation come in many shapes, sizes, and levels of absorbency to meet the needs of the women who use them.
During menstruation, women bleed vaginally from three to seven days. Female hygiene products intended for use during menstruation work to catch this blood and keep it from staining clothing and causing discomfort. As menstrual blood also has an odor, the absorbent materials used to make menstrual products are designed to contain that odor. Sanitary pads, sometimes known as sanitary napkins, typically attach to a woman's underwear by way of adhesive. Some sanitary pads have wings that envelop the entire crotch of a woman's underwear to protect against staining and leaking.
Another type of menstruation product is the tampon, a small plug made of nylon or cotton with a string attached to its base. The plug is inserted into the vagina, usually by way of a plastic or cardboard applicator, though some tampons are sold without an applicator. The tampon expands in a woman's vagina to absorb the flow of blood. The string at the base of a tampon is used to remove the tampon after several hours of use. Many women find tampons to be more discreet than pads, though some women wear tampons and a pad as backup protection, particularly on days when their menstrual flow is particularly heavy.
A third menstruation aid, though relatively unknown among female hygiene products, is the menstrual cup. Menstrual cups are thin, flexible cups that can be inserted into the vagina to catch menstrual flow. The menstrual cup is held in place by the vaginal walls and remains inside a woman for up to 12 hours. As they can be used for long periods of time, many women appreciate the convenience offered by the menstrual cup.
Some women are concerned that their vaginal area has an odor even when they're not menstruating. For this reason, some companies sell female hygiene products designed to combat this alleged odor. These sprays, washes, and douches come in a variety of fragrances. Unfortunately, these products can sometimes contribute to the problem they supposedly address. Ingredients in these products can cause irritation and upset the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. Unless the woman has an infection, normal hygiene such as washing with mild soap and water during a daily shower is usually enough to control any unpleasant body odors that a woman might have.