A sanitary napkin, sanitary towel, sanitary pad, menstrual pad, or pad is an absorbent item worn in the underwear by women and girls who are menstruating, bleeding after giving birth, recovering from gynecologic surgery, experiencing a miscarriage or abortion, or in any other situation where it is necessary to absorb a flow of blood from the vagina.
A menstrual pad is a type of feminine hygiene product that is worn externally, unlike tampons and menstrual cups which are worn inside the vagina. The frequency a woman will need to change her pad will vary depending on whether her menstrual flow is heavy or light.
Menstrual pads are made from a range of materials, differing depending on style, country of origin, and brand. US brands include Kotex, Always, Equate, and Stayfree. Lil-lets are available in several other English-speaking countries.
These pads are not to be confused with generally higher absorbency incontinence pads, which are worn by people who have urinary incontinence problems or experience stress incontinence. Although menstrual pads are not made for this use, some people use them for this purpose.