A sanitary napkin, sanitary towel, sanitary pad, menstrual pad, or pad is an absorbent item worn by women in their underwear when 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 menstrual hygiene product that is worn externally, unlike tampons and menstrual cups, which are worn inside the vagina. Pads are generally changed by being stripped off the pants and panties, taking out the old pad, sticking the new one on the inside of the panties and pulling them back on. Pads are recommended to be changed every 3–4 hours to avoid certain bacteria that can fester in blood, this time also may differ depending on the kind worn, flow, and the time it is worn.
Menstrual pads are made from a range of materials, differing depending on style, country of origin, and brand. The pads are not the same as incontinence pads, which generally have higher absorbency and are worn by the ones who have urinary incontinence problems or experience stress incontinence. Although menstrual pads are not made for this use, some use them for this purpose.