If you have a heavy period, you're probably all-too-familiar with the unexpected leaks that come with it. That's why it's no exaggeration when I say that finding the best tampons for heavy periods can change your life for the better — take it from someone who knows.
What qualifies as "heavy" can vary widely, depending on the person. But you should always talk to your doctor first to make sure your heavy flow isn't a sign of an underlying issue. If you've received a clean bill of health and you still find that regular
-absorbency tampons don't cut it, you'll probably benefit from upgrading to super, super-plus, or even ultra tampons.
And what exactly do those names mean? For reference,
regular tampons hold between 6 and 9 ounces of menstrual blood. Meanwhile, super tampons hold between 9 and 12; super-plus tampons hold between 12 to 15; and ultra tampons hold an impressive 15 to 18 ounces (roughly twice as much as regular tampons). While it may feel counterintuitive, you should always use the lowest absorbency tampon you can get away with to minimize your risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Once you have a better understanding of the absorbency you need, you should also consider any personal preferences, like if you want organic or applicator-free tampons. Unfortunately, for super-plus and ultra tampons, those options are more limited.
Below, I've put together a list of the best tampons for your period, arranged from the
most absorbent tampons to the least, so there's something here for every person's definition of heavy.
Ultra tampons are the most absorbent, holding between 15 to 18 ounces. (They can also be the hardest to find in brick-and-mortar stores). At this absorbency, there are options available with and without applicators. As for organic ultra tampons, if they do exist, I've yet to find them.
Ultra Tampons With Applicators:
Perfect for an extremely heavy flow, the
Tampax Pearl ultra absorbency tampons are my personal go-to. The silky plastic applicator features a no-slip grip for easy insertion. The tampon itself gently expands for a comfortable fit and, like all of the picks on this list, is fragrance-free. Since I started stocking up on these two years ago, the first two days (and nights!) of my period have become much more manageable. Based on the reviews, I'm not alone — as one Amazon shopper put it, "I live by this can’t do without it must must must have." Non-Applicator Ultra Tampons:
While applicator-free tampons may seem intimidating for the uninitiated, these
o.b. ultra absorbency tampons tout a lot of benefits. For one thing, the lack of an applicator makes them impressively compact and easy to fit in a purse, wallet, or pocket. The design also means less waste for the environment. As for insertion, the base of the tampon expands to fit your finger, which helps to keep the process mess-free. Designed by a gynecologist, the tampon features an especially comfortable fit as well as grooves for extra absorbency.
The Best Super-Plus Tampons
Super-plus tampons hold between 12 and 15 ounces of menstrual blood. With this absorbency, I found a great option with applicators, as well as an option that's both organic and applicator-free.
Super-Plus Tampons With Applicators:
With super-plus absorbency and the comfort of a smooth plastic applicator, these
Tampax Pearl tampons are a popular choice on Amazon. They boast a 4.8-star overall rating on the site, with one reviewer writing, "They don't move around at all, and I can't even feel them. They absorb very well, and I've never had any leakage problems." The braided string provides extra security against leaks, and Tampax's signature "Pearl" applicator makes insertion easier than ever. Non-Applicator, Organic Super-Plus Tampons:
If you prefer an all-natural option with minimal waste, these
CORA super-plus tampons combine the best of both worlds, with organic cotton and an applicator-free design. Best of all, for every box purchased, CORA donates a month's supply of menstrual products to school-aged girls in need. Like with other applicator-free tampons, these are especially portable — and they're impressively absorbent, too.
One drawback I’ve found with CORA's tampons (and with most organic tampons in general) is that they tend to come apart a little during removal if they're not completely saturated, so you'll want to be sure to use the lowest absorbency possible to avoid this.
Super tampons hold between 9 and 12 ounces. At this absorbency, you'll find there's a lot more variety; I've included an option with standard applicators, an organic alternative with biodegradable applicators, as well as an option that's completely applicator-free.
Super Tampons With Applicators:
If you're only in need of a little more protection than what regular tampons offer, these
Playtex super absorbency tampons are a great way to go. Made with purified fibers that have been washed multiple times, the tampon expands 360 degrees for reliable coverage and a personalized fit. As for the applicator, it's made without any dyes or BPA. As one reviewer wrote about this 80-count pack, "Lots of tampons, exactly what I was expecting. Great quality and now I won't have to buy them for a really long time!" Organic, Super Tampons With Biodegradable Applicators:
Made with certified-organic cotton, these
super absorbency tampons from Sky Organics feature a plant-based applicator that's biodegradable, so you can have your applicator while still being environmentally friendly. Both vegan and cruelty-free, reviewers say these tampons are incredibly comfortable and "super absorbent." Like with the CORA organic tampons, you'll want to be extra careful not to use a higher absorbency than you need. Non-Applicator Super Tampons:
For applicator-free tampons in super absorbency, these
o.b. pro comfort tampons are conveniently compact, yet extremely dependable. Just like with the o.b. ultra tampons, the base flares out so you can slip your finger inside, making insertion quick and easy. One reviewer in particular noted, "I can't remember the last time I had a leak in these so that's a win for me."
Also Helpful: Period-Proof Undies
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other menstrual product that has completely changed my life for the better: leak-proof underwear. Made from a water-resistant blend of bamboo fiber and spandex, these
period panties provide an extra level of security against unexpected leaks. While I haven't tried this particular brand, I have used a couple of others and find they all work similarly well. Some reviewers did note that these can be a little noisy if worn with loose pants, but overall, they're a popular pick on Amazon with more than 4,000 positive reviews. Just be sure to hand-wash and air dry these undies to ensure they last as long as possible. Available sizes: Small - 3X-Large