Ancient Cities & Streets in China

Top 10 ancient cities: China's best kept secret

China is a vast country with innumerable tourist destinations. If you are getting tired of going to the hot spots like Sanya, Lijiang and Pingyao, and want to get away from constant stream of tourists, the following 10 destinations are good choices for you.

These ancient towns are sure to please your senses with the rich culture of ancient China:

Historical Streets & Cities in China

For hundreds of years, China's ancient streets have recorded the country's history and culture against a backdrop of change and development. The streets have retained the layout, architecture, and even the lifestyles of ancient times. 

The following are the top 10 historical streets in China which contain the most vivid and richest memories:

A Guide to China's Tourist Attractions

Wuzhen ancient town in China

Wuzhen was established as a town 1,300 years ago and enjoys a history of civilization for more than 7,000 years. According to the archeology findings on its suburb--Tanjiawan, ancestors of Wuzhen settled on this land (once called Wudun and Wushu) 7,000 years ago. The records show Wuzhen changed its name in 1950 with the merger of two towns: Wudun and Qingdun.

The most story-telling old street in China
Huangshan Tunxi Old Street

Tunxi Old Street is located in the central area of ​​Tunxi District, Huangshan City, Anhui Province. It is surrounded by mountains to the north and water to the south. It has a total length of 1272 meters, the essence of which is 853 meters and a width of 5 to 8 meters. Including 1 straight street, 3 horizontal streets and 18 alleys, the whole street is composed of more than 300 Huizhou buildings built in different years, distributed in the shape of a fish skeleton, narrow in the west and wider in the east.

Because Tunxi Old Street is located at the confluence of the three rivers of Hengjiang, Lishui and Xin'an River, it is also known as the flowing "Surfing River in Qingming Festival". It is the most complete ancient street market in China with the most architectural styles of Southern Song and Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is also China's "National Key Cultural Relics Protection Unit".

In 2009, Tunxi Old Street, along with Beijing Guozijian Street and Suzhou Pingjiang Road, was elected as the "Famous Street of Chinese History and Culture".

The Unknown Mega-CIties In China 中国未知的特大城市

As of June 2020 the PRC has a total of 687 cities: 4 municipalities, 2 SARs, 293 prefectural-level cities (including the 15 sub-provincial cities) and 388 county-level cities (including the 38 sub-prefectural cities and 10 XXPC cities).

Here are some of the cities you have never heard of:

Singapore’s CapitaLand builds a much grander version of Marina Bay Sands in China

Raffles City Chongqing, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is developed by Singapore’s own CapitaLand, whose president and group CEO calls it the “largest and most complex integrated development” ever undertaken by the real estate company by far. The project will hold a shopping mall, residences, offices and a hotel.

Complicated, indeed. The megastructure consists of four 250m-tall skyscrapers topped with a 300m-long curved horizontal sky bridge, which will feature an outdoor patio with see-through glass flooring as a viewing deck. The enclosed structure — longer than Singapore’s tallest building laid on its side — will also have swimming pools, sky gardens, and dining facilities.

If all this sounds familiar, it should be. Raffles City Chongqing is what happens when someone one-ups Marina Bay Sands by taking the original concept wholesale and adding more parts to it. CapitaLand’s description about their development says nothing about the similarities to MBS, but noted that Safdie drew inspiration from Chongqing’s “thousand years of waterway transportation culture” to create “an image of powerful sails upon the river”. To be fair, Safdie did design MBS after all, so he’s at liberty to replicate the same thing somewhere else. The construction is expected to be completed by the middle of 2018, and will open in phases next year.


Where do Teochew 潮州 people come from?

A Shout-out to the Gaginan

Residing in South China for about 1,700 years, the Teochew (Chaoshan in Mandarin) people are one of three ethnic groups who have lived in these lands for generations. Though they have long shared the region with the Cantonese and Hakka, they still maintain their own language and have inherited a unique culture.

According to modern Chinese geography, the Chaoshan region generally refers to the cities of Chaozhou, Shantou, Jieyang and Shanwei, located in the southeastern part of Guangdong province. People from this area refer to each other as gaginan (Teochew transliteration), or ‘my own people’ in English. 

One of the foremost characteristics ascribed to the Teochew is an instinct for trade and business, no matter if it’s a neighborhood grocery store or a global corporation. Amongst a long list of well-known Teochew entrepreneurs, the most notable are Li Ka-shing, formerly the richest man in China, and Ma Huateng, founder of Tencent, the company that created the almighty WeChat and QQ.

Teochew, or the Yellow River?

Where do the Teochew people come from? The Teochew region in southern China is the obvious answer. Yet if one is to run a search on the Internet, he or she would find a string of references stating that our ancestors came hundreds of years ago from the Central Plains in the Yellow River reaches, thousands of miles away.

This theory concerning the Teochew people’s migratory origin has several variants. One that is circulating widely online is that our forebears were one of a few branches of Han Chinese, first displaced from northern China when the Jin dynasty lost control of its political heartland to invading "barbarians" in the 4th century. They managed to resettle in Putian district of Fujian province, but were uprooted again when the Mongol armies of Kublai Khan overran the Song dynasty in the 13th century. Eventually, they found sanctuary in the historical Teochew Prefecture, which was supposedly sparsely populated at the time. Due to long exposure and interaction with indigenous ethnic minorities whom they eventually displaced, Teochew people now have our own speech and cultural traits that are distinctive from other groups of Chinese.

Currently, the belief that Teochew people have their origins in the north is widely accepted and propagated in mainland China. However, its formation is fairly recent, and may be traced to the writings of its chief proponent, the late Professor Jao Tsung-I (饒宗頤), in the 1949 Chaozhou Gazetteer (潮州志)

Singaporean woman on how she found her way back to her Teochew roots
Her then-three-year-old daughter’s fixation on Teochew opera led Eileen Hair on a path to rediscovering her roots

For younger Chinese Singaporeans, joining a clan association is something not many would consider. Especially taking into account that many of us can barely hold a conversation in our dialect.

But for Eileen Hair, who is the section head of the event management course at ITE College Central, joining the Teochew clan association in 2018 was like fulfilling her calling. However, what prompted the 43-year-old’s quest for membership at Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan wasn’t because she was encouraged to do so by her grandparents, nor was it out of a need to network with other businessmen in the clan.

It was her then-three-year-old daughter’s unexpected interest in Teochew opera at the 2016 Teochew Festival that encouraged Hair to dig deeper into her roots.

Teochews in Singapore 25 years ago

The 20th century produced many successful overseas Teochew businessmen, who always devoted their energy and wealth towards the education and other fields of philanthropy. Watch the late Lien Ying Chow of Overseas Union Bank and other Teochews in Singapore share their stories and the philosophy behind their selfless contributions towards the larger society in this documentary produced by Shantou Television in 1997.


Health Benefits of Pears

5 reasons pears are so good for you
Among other things, they can boost your immune system

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” goes the old saying.

While we know we can’t compare apples to pears, we’re gonna do it anyway. Because pears are also extremely healthy.

We’re giving you five reasons why you should eat pears every day:
  • Pears are great for your heart and blood vessels
  • Less chance of type 2 diabetes
  • Stronger immune system
  • Good for your gut
  • Better skin

4 Surprising Health Benefits of Pears

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but is our obsession for the crisp, juicy fruit overshadowing other fruits? We tend to opt for apple pie over pear crumble, but there are actually some amazing health benefits of pears that are making us want to give pears their fair chance. Here's how pear nutrition stacks up along with four science-backed health benefits of pears that'll get you pumped for pear season:
  • Pears Are Seriously Good for Your Digestion - Boasting 6 grams of fiber, pears have more fiber than a 1-cup serving of kale!
  • Pears Have a Low-Glycemic Index - Even though pears have some natural sugar, their high fiber content ensures your blood sugar won't go soaring after eating one (which makes them a perfect on-the-go snack for people with diabetes).
  • Pears Are Good for Your Heart - According to Harvard Health, eating more fiber-rich foods provides wonderful health benefits.
  • Pears Are Free Radical Fighters - The vitamin C in pears fight off free radicals, which can put your cells under oxidative stress and lead to chronic disease.

Top 5 health benefits of pears

Pears are a sweet fruit, a little larger than an apple in size and have a slightly thinner top half and rounded bottom giving them their ‘pear-shape’. They typically have yellow-green skin on the outside, and a white, soft flesh on the inside, all of which is edible. There is a small core which is more fibrous and often inedible.

Top 5 health benefits:
  • May support gut health - Pears are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, there is growing evidence of the importance of fibre and the role it may play in the health of our gut microbiota (the community of bacteria that live in our intestines) and in preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • May lower the risk of type 2 diabetes - A study looking at the benefits of flavonoids, including the anthocyanins found in fruit like pears, suggests regular consumption may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • May help weight management - Pears are low in calories and high in fibre and water which helps to keep you feeling full.
  • May support heart health - Pears are rich in beneficial flavonoids that support the heart by improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • May have cancer protective properties - Being rich in protective plant compounds like anthocyanins and cinnamic acid, by including fruit such as pears in the diet may help protect against certain cancers.

7 Powerful Health Benefits Of Pears

Pears are fruits savored for their delicious flavor since ancient times. The proven health benefits of pears may include their ability to aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost heart health, and can help regulate blood pressure. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber and antioxidants.

Health Benefits of Pears:
  • May Promote Gut Health -  A 2015 study suggested that the phenolic content in the peel of Bartlett and Starkrimson pears and fermented pear juice may play a vital role in promoting gut health.
  • Potentially Rich Source of Fiber - A study published in Nutrition Today led by Dr. Joanne Slavin, who is a professor at the University of Minnesota, concludes that fruits like pears are extremely great sources of dietary fiber. They contain 71 percent insoluble fiber and 29 percent soluble fiber.
  • May Aid in Weight Loss - Pears are one of the lowest-calorie fruits, with a medium pear containing just over 100 calories, which is about 5 to 10 percent of most healthy calorie-restricted diets.
  • May Increase Antioxidant Activity - Like many other fruits, pears are a wealth of antioxidants like vitamin C that combat various diseases and conditions within the body
  • May Boost Immunity - The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a comprehensive study suggesting the benefits of vitamin C above the recommended daily intake for health benefits like boosting immunity.
  • May Improve Heart Health - A 2019 study published in the Current Developments in Nutrition journal showed a positive link between eating apples, pears, or combining apples and pears with a decreased risk of cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases such as coronary disease and diabetes.
  • May Reduce Inflammation - The antioxidant and flavonoid components of the fruit can induce anti-inflammatory effects in the body, reducing the pain and swelling associated with inflammation. This can include the reduction in symptoms of arthritis, rheumatic conditions, gout, and similar conditions.

9 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Pears

Pears are sweet, bell-shaped fruits that have been enjoyed since ancient times. They can be eaten crisp or soft. They’re not only delicious but also offer many health benefits backed by science.

Here are 9 impressive health benefits of pears:
  • Highly nutritious - Pears come in many different varieties. Bartlett, Bosc, and D’Anjou pears are among the most popular, but around 100 types are grown worldwide.
  • May promote gut health - Pears are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which are essential for digestive health. These fibers help maintain bowel regularity by softening and bulking up stool.
  • Contain beneficial plant compounds - Pears offer many beneficial plant compounds that give these fruits their different hues.
  • Have anti-inflammatory properties - Although inflammation is a normal immune response, chronic or long-term inflammation can harm your health. It’s linked to certain illnesses, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • May offer anticancer effects - Pears contain various compounds that may exhibit anticancer properties. For example, their anthocyanin and cinnamic acid contents have been shown to fight cancer
  • Linked to a lower risk of diabetes - Pears particularly red varieties may help decrease diabetes risk.
  • May boost heart health - Pears may lower your risk of heart disease.
  • May help you lose weight - Pears are low in calories, high in water, and packed with fiber. This combination makes them a weight-loss-friendly food, as fiber and water can help keep you full.
  • Easy to add to your diet - Pears are available year-round and easy to find in most grocery stores.

Top 10 Reasons Why Pears Must be a Part of your Diet

Pears are among those fruits that people don’t pay enough attention to. While some people call the fruit the ‘ugly step-sister’ of apple, it packs almost the same nutrients and minerals as its beautiful sibling.  A pear is a sweet, mild fruit that has a fibrous center. It is rich in dietary fiber, plant compounds or phytonutrients, and antioxidants. If we define pear fruit in short, it is a fruit that packs all the nutrients in a cholesterol-free, fat-free, 100-calorie package.

This fruit ripens the best once it is off the tree. That’s why special attention is needed at the time of harvesting. Unlike other fruits, pears ripe from the inside out. This is the reason why many people confuse it for being unripe or flavorless.  Thus, it is extremely important to pick the perfect pear from the market if you want to experience its true taste. Doctors advise people with diabetes and heart conditions to include pear in their diet. If you are still not convinced, this post will help you garner all the knowledge about pear fruit, from health benefits to nutrition value, and more.

10 Proven Health Benefits of Pear:
  • Good for skin and hair - Vitamin A is the most versatile nutrient. It is beneficial for keeping the skin, hair, and nails healthy and beautiful. Pears contain good amounts of vitamin A that can help in keeping your skin and hair healthy.
  • May improve bone health - The fruit contains copper, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium in significant amounts, which all play a crucial role in bone health.
  • Helps reduce inflammation - Pears are rich in flavonoids and antioxidant components.
  • Helps in improving blood circulation - Pears can be very beneficial for patients suffering from mineral deficiencies like anemia, among others, as they are high in iron and copper content. Increased levels of iron in the body boost the synthesis of red blood cells
  • Helps with healing - Pears are a good source of vitamin C and thus help in healing wounds. Ascorbic acid helps in synthesizing cellular structures of the body and new tissues in the various organs.
  • Improved heart health - There are several studies and researches published emphasizing the impact of pears on heart health.
  • Pear helps in boosting immunity - In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that vitamin C and vitamin A found in pears, benefits in boosting immunity.
  • Pear has anti-cancer properties - The antioxidant properties in pear have the potential to kill cancer-causing cells in our body.
  • Pear is linked to lower the risk of diabetes - Pear is an anthocyanin-rich fruit, which is directly associated with diabetes.
  • Pear may promote gut health - As stated above, a pear is an excellent source of insoluble and soluble fiber that is essential for digestive health.



Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022

Menstrual Hygiene Day theme 2022

On Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022, we're working to break the silence around periods, tackle the stigma often associated with them, and raise awareness of the importance of menstrual hygiene for women, girls and people who menstruate around the world.

When is Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022, and what is it? Menstrual Hygiene Day takes place on 28 May every year. It's a chance to highlight the importance of menstrual care, and raise awareness about the issues faced by those who don't have access to sanitary products. Access to sanitary products, safe, hygienic spaces in which to use them, and the right to manage menstruation without shame or stigma, is essential for anyone who menstruates. But for too many, that's not the reality.

The theme of Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022 is: making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030. The overarching goal is to build a world where no one is held back because they menstruate by 2030.

International Day of Action for Women’s Health

On May 28, the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, activists around the world will take action, mobilize, and highlight demands towards the fulfillment of women’s right to health. This year, we call on everyone to #ResistAndPersist amid crises and global uncertainty and to continue to assert that #WomensHealthMatters and #SRHRisEssential. 

Within the context of the post-pandemic recovery, we continue to hold governments accountable to the gendered impacts of the pandemic that remain unaddressed to date. Some of these impacts include loss of livelihood, increased unpaid care burdens on women and girls, heightened risks to gender-based violence, and barriers to accessing essential sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion and post-abortion care.

We also escalate the need for accountability at the global level as we recognize that the multiple crises we face – economic, political, humanitarian, climate, disinformation crises – require no less than concerted global effort to be adequately addressed.

Menstrual Hygiene Day

For some, menstruation may be an inconvenience they don’t give much thought to. But for millions of others, this most natural of reproductive cycle functions can equate to abuse (the onset of menstruation can signal that a girl is ready for marriage and childbearing, even if she is still a child herself); stigma (banished to menstruation huts; barred from sharing meals); missed opportunity (skipping school because of pain and/or lack of personal hygiene products); and loss of dignity (lack of supplies and sanitation in humanitarian settings where even basics like soap and water can be scarce or unavailable.)

Among initiatives to support menstrual health and hygiene, UNFPA reaches people who menstruate with education, safe sanitation facilities, including in displacement camps, and with dignity kits containing essentials like soap, menstrual supplies and underwear. Recently, UNFPA has distributed thousands of kits in humanitarian settings as a result of conflict (Ukraine and Moldova, northern Ethiopia) and natural disasters (Haiti, the Philippines, Tonga, Malawi and Mozambique).

The day is observed on 28 May because menstrual cycles average 28 days in length and people menstruate an average of five days each month. (May is the fifth month of the year.) It is meant to advance menstruation as a biological process so that people can menstruate without being cast out or missing out, without feeling fear or shame and without being treated like less or exposed to more vulnerabilities. It also raises awareness of period poverty, or the inability to afford the menstrual supplies needed to manage health and hygiene with dignity.

Menstrual Hygiene Day: Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030

Today, millions of women and girls* around the world are stigmatised, excluded and discriminated against simply because they menstruate. It’s not acceptable that because of a natural bodily function women and girls continue to be prevented from getting an education, earning an income and fully and equally participating in everyday life.

While Menstrual Hygiene Day is on 28 May, our team and our partners work all year round to:
  • Break the taboos and end the stigma surrounding menstruation
  • Raise awareness about the challenges regarding access to menstrual products, education about menstruation and period-friendly sanitation facilities
  • Mobilise the funding required for action at scale

All of this contributes to our overarching goal: to build a world where no one is held back because they menstruate by 2030. Join the global day of action.

From Pads to Tampons: How women dealt with periods long before sanitary pads and tampons
Long before the sanitary pad got its wings, it was meant to help men cope with another kind of bleeding. Ahead of Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28

Did you know that the first disposable sanitary pads were made for men, not women? In the 1700s, the idea of creating a highly absorbent pad that could be discarded after use was thought up by US president Benjamin Franklin, who wanted to help wounded soldiers control bleeding of a different kind.

Of course, women were menstruating before the 1700s and were known to use some form of menstrual protection. One of the earliest records was of a 4th-century Greek mathematician, who resorted to throwing her menstrual rag at a persistent admirer after everything else she did failed to fob him off. Other than rags, women also lined their underwear with whatever was cheap and in abundance. In China, women were thought to have made period pads by putting sand in a cloth pouch and wrapping it tightly. When the pad was wet, the sand would be discarded and the pouch washed for the next cycle.

Elsewhere, women were said to have used moss or grass, though we wonder if they also had to grapple with frequent infections down there. It isn't clear why menstrual rags weren't used by some women from the 1700s to the 1900s in Europe or America. It could be the extreme poverty that the majority of the population lived through. For whatever reason, women did not use anything to catch their menstrual flow. Those who could afford to would use knitted "pads", sheep's wool, or rabbit fur. 

How women have managed periods throughout history

Women have been managing their periods for millennia, but the way they do so has changed as menstruation has become more and less stigmatised over time. From rags to tampons, menstrual cups and free-bleeding, take a tour of the history of period products on this Menstrual Hygiene Day.

For most of human history, menstruation was very poorly understood. In ancient times, it was often thought of negatively, the blood considered impure and periods thought to be a curse. From the 15th century, "women would apply remedies, for example enemas, perform physical exercise or take emmenagogue plants", which helped regulate menstruation cycles, French historian Nahema Hanafi told AFP. It was the job of the women in a teenager's family or community to inform her about periods. But they also discussed how it worked with men.

"In medieval and modern times, people talk about menstruation because it is a crucial health issue that concerns the whole family," Hanafi said. Noble women, for example, would catalogue their periods in correspondence with their father or uncle. However menstruation became taboo in the 19th century Europe with the rise of the middle class, which brought about new social norms, the historian said. Modesty became a feminine virtue. "In this movement, everything related to the body and sexuality was kept from women's sight, which prevented them from being informed about these subjects -- and from talking about them," Hanafi said.

Choosing the Right Sanitary Pad

When you have your period, you need the assurance that your sanitary pad provides you reliable absorbency with no leakages. After all, what could be more embarrassing than having a period stain on your skirt? Comfort is of upmost importance, make sure your pad is comfortable and doesn’t cause you any itchiness or irritation. Here are three important things to note when choosing a sanitary pad:
  • Good Absorbency - One of the most important elements of a good sanitary pad is the ability to absorb a large volume of blood in a short span of time. Blood absorbed should also be locked into the centre core, eliminating the chance of backflow when pressure is applied to the pad (for example when sitting down). One way to tell whether the discharged blood is absorbed to the centre core is to observe the colour of the blood on the pad surface. The brighter or fresher the colour, the nearer the blood is to the surface, potentially leading to backflow and dampness. Conversely, if the colour appears a duller red, this means that blood has been effectively absorbed so that you feel dry, confident and are able to go about your daily activities without worrying about any leakage!
  • Length and Flow - Blood discharge is usually heavier at the start of your period, so it is essential to choose a pad that can quickly and effectively absorb your flow. Sanitary pads are classified as Day or Night, with Day pads being shorter (ranging from 17cm to 25cm) and Night pads going all the way to 35cm or more. The longer the pad, the more fluids it can absorb. Night pads also come with added features like wide hip guards to effectively prevent back leakages as you lie down. Some pads also come with side gathers to fit your body contours; this is to prevent side leakage throughout the night.
  • Material Comfort - Sanitary pads are either made of cotton or plastic netted. Everyone’s skin is different, thus the comfort levels with certain materials differ as well. Some girls prefer a soft touch whilst others may prefer a netted top layer. The type of material also affects its breathability. According to a survey conducted by Kao Laboratories in Japan, when you put on a sanitary pad, humidity levels in that area of your body elevates to 85% or higher. This change could make the skin damp, tender and very sensitive. The menstrual flow itself could lead to your discomfort. On light flow days, moisture levels are lower but the constant rubbing of your skin against the sanitary pad can give rise to abrasions, making your skin red and itchy. A common misconception among women is that having rashes in their pubic area is something all women have to go through during their period. The truth is, the problem may quite easily be alleviated by simply changing to cotton-type sanitary pads!

Menstrual pads

A menstrual pad, or simply pad, (also known as a sanitary pad, sanitary towel, sanitary napkin or feminine napkin) 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 those who have urinary incontinence problems. Although menstrual pads are not made for this use, some use them for this purpose.

Tampon inserted

A tampon is a menstrual product designed to absorb blood and vaginal secretions by insertion into the vagina during menstruation. Unlike a pad, it is placed internally, inside of the vaginal canal. Once inserted correctly, a tampon is held in place by the vagina and expands as it soaks up menstrual blood. However, in addition to menstrual blood, the tampon also absorbs the vagina's natural lubrication and bacteria, which can change the normal pH, increasing the risk of infections from the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which can lead to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but life-threatening infection that requires immediate medical attention.

The majority of tampons sold are made of rayon, or a blend of rayon and cotton, along with synthetic fibers. Some tampons are made out of organic cotton. Tampons are available in several absorbency ratings. Brands include (but are not limited to) Kotex, Playtex, Tampax (Always), O.B., Cora, Lola, Sustain, Honest Company, Seventh Generation, Solimo, and Rael Tampons. Several countries regulate tampons as medical devices. In the United States, they are considered to be a Class II medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Tampon design varies between companies and across product lines in order to offer a variety of applicators, materials and absorbencies. There are two main categories of tampons based on the way of insertion - digital tampons inserted by finger, and applicator tampons. Tampon applicators may be made of plastic or cardboard, and are similar in design to a syringe. The applicator consists of two tubes, an "outer", or barrel, and "inner", or plunger. The outer tube has a smooth surface to aid insertion and sometimes comes with a rounded end that is petaled. Differences exist in the way tampons expand when in use: applicator tampons generally expand axially (increase in length), while digital tampons will expand radially (increase in diameter). Most tampons have a cord or string for removal. The majority of tampons sold are made of rayon, or a blend of rayon and cotton. Organic cotton tampons are made from only 100% cotton. Tampons may also come in scented or unscented varieties

Menstrual cups
A properly inserted menstrual cup (blue) will form a seal against the vaginal walls, as shown. Blood flow from the uterus (red) is captured in the cup

A menstrual cup is a menstrual hygiene device which is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. Its purpose is to collect menstrual fluid (blood from the uterine lining mixed with other fluids). Menstrual cups are usually made of flexible medical grade silicone, latex, or a thermoplastic isomer. They are shaped like a bell with a stem or a ring. The stem is used for insertion and removal, and the bell-shaped cup seals against the vaginal wall just below the cervix and collects menstrual fluid. This is unlike tampons and menstrual pads, which absorb the fluid instead.

Every 4–12 hours (depending on the amount of flow), the cup is removed, emptied, rinsed, and reinserted. After each period, the cup requires cleaning. One cup may be reusable for up to 10 years, making their long-term cost lower than that of disposable tampons or pads, though the initial cost is higher. As menstrual cups are reusable, they generate less solid waste than tampons and pads, both from the products themselves and from their packaging. Most menstrual cup brands sell a smaller and a larger size. Some menstrual cups are sold colorless and translucent, but several brands also offer colored cups. Menstrual cups typically do not leak if used properly, though incorrect placement or inadequate cup size can cause some women to experience leakage. Menstrual cups are a safe alternative to other menstrual products; risk of toxic shock syndrome infection is similar or less with menstrual cups compared to pads or tampons

The menstrual cup is first folded or pinched and then inserted into the vagina. It will normally unfold automatically and create a light seal against the cervix. In some cases, the user may need to twist the cup or flex the vaginal muscles to ensure the cup is fully open. If correctly inserted, the cup should not leak or cause any discomfort. The stem should be completely inside the vagina. If it is not, the stem can be trimmed. There are various folding techniques for insertion; common folds include the c-fold, as well as the punch-down fold. If lubrication is necessary for insertion, it should be water-based, as silicone lubricant can be damaging to the silicone. After 4–12 hours of use (depending on the amount of flow), the cup is removed by reaching up to its stem to find the base. Simply pulling on the stem is not recommended to remove the cup, as this can create suction. The base of the cup is pinched to release the seal, and the cup is removed. After emptying, a menstrual cup should be rinsed or wiped and reinserted. It can be washed with a mild soap, and sterilized in boiling water for a few minutes at the end of the cycle. Alternatively, sterilizing solutions (usually developed for baby bottles and breast pump equipment) may be used to soak the cup. Specific cleaning instructions vary by brand.