The Ultimate Guide: Interlabial Pads

Welcome to our ultimate guide on interlabial pads. This guide is the most complete you'll find on the web and should answer all of your questions about interlabial pads. If you don't understand something or do need more information, please do drop us an email. Our Guide Covers:

  • What are interlabial pads?
  • History of Interlabial Pads
  • Why use an interlabial pad?
  • Buying Interlabial Pads
  • Make your Own Interlabial Pads
  • Interlabial Pad Pros
  • Interlabial Pad Cons
  • Concluding Thoughts 

If you'd prefer to save to read later you can bookmark this page or download our guide completely free here. Don't have time to read our ultimate guide, you can read an overview in this blog post. If you prefer to watch rather than read, we have that option too! Check out our YouTube video on interlabial pads here.

What are interlabial pads?

So you’ve been researching cloth pads or perhaps you’ve recently started using them and you’ve come across a product called interlabial pads. Your first thought is “Interlabial wha-hut-ha????” as you start scratching your head. Well, they are exactly what they sound like. They are a small “pad” which is often in the shape of a petal that fits in between your labia (see photo below). They can be made of any material, but are usually made from breathable and absorbent cloth such as cotton. They should hold about 2-5ml of fluid which is a similar absorbency to a mini tampon.

single interlabial pad

History of Interlabial Pads

A search of the European Patent Office Espacenet, shows a patent for the interlabial pad published as early as 1969 and 1970 by Johnson & Johnson. With a subsequent publication by Kimberly Clark in 1986. The Kimberly Clark  patent publication describes…

“An interlabial pad as provided having a cylindrodially-shaped central portion and oppositely disposed flaps. The method for forming the interlabial pad involves folding a pad blank along the central longitudinal axis and gathering and attaching the blank at spaced-apart portions below the fold line to form a cylindrodially shaped central member with flaps depending radially there from.”

A disposable interlabial pad called the Padette and later renamed the Insync Miniform and produce by The A-Fem Medical Corporation was available for sale in in the 90s and late 2000’s. According to the Museum of Menstruation, the inSync Miniform absorption pad “fits between the small lips of the vulva & as alternative to menstrual tampons for light days & spotting.” They were apparently made of rayon with polypropylene, but are no longer commercially available.

There are currently no commercially available disposable interlabial pads, but there are a number of companies now producing reusable cloth interlabial pads including Fialuna.

interlabial pad patent kimberly clarkinsync miniform mum.org

Why use an interlabial pad?

There are a number of reasons you might want to use an interlabial pad. 

Stop Channeling

Interlabial pads can help direct your menstrual flow and stop what is often referred to as channeling – when your menstrual flow channels through your labia or buttocks to the front or back of your pad. When placed between the labia and over the vaginal opening, the menstrual flow is slowed and stop before it has the opportunity to “channel”. This is one of the main reasons to use an interlabial pad. If you bleed to the front or back, you should definitely give these a try.

Slow your flow

Another thing interlabial pads are useful for is to help slow your menstrual flow. So if you tend to “gush” rather than trickle, an interlabial pad can slow the flow which in turn allows your pad more time to absorb the flow. This is useful for cloth pad users as sometimes a gushy flow means your cloth pad could leak because your flow was not absorbed quickly enough into your cloth pad.

Extra protection

If you have a very heavy flow, the interlabial pad offers even more protection as they will absorb about 2-5ml of fluid. You can use them in conjunction with a tampon or menstrual cup as well as a pad.

Instead of a pantyliner

An interlabial pad can be used instead of a pantyliner for light menstrual and urinary leaks as well as discharge. Many will use them as back-up to a menstrual cup or tampon or if they suffer from mild incontinence.

How to use Interlabial Pads

Before using your interlabial pads, you will need to wash them several times. This is because they are made from cotton and they require washing to make them absorbent. They should reach maximum absorbency after about 5 washes. It’s helpful to wash them in a mesh laundry bag so that they do not get lost in your machine. You do not need to dry them between washes when preparing for use.

You can store your interlabial pads however you like, but it’s useful to keep them in a small bag or wetbag as they are quite small and likely to get lost if you don’t.

To use the interlabial pad, you fold it and place between your labia and over your vaginal opening. If you are using them to protect from light incontinence, you must ensure you are covering your urethra. There are few ways to fold an interlabial pad and you can experiment with different folds to find which one works the best for you.

Fold lengthwise

In this instance the pad may be completely between your labia or it may fold over the outside of your labia.

interlabial pad lengthwise fold

Roll Lengthwise

In this instance the pad may be completely between your labia or it may fold over the outside of your labia.

interlabial pad rolled lengthwise

Fold widthwise

When you fold widthwise, the sides of the pad will probably sit on the outside of your labia.

interlabial pad folded widthwise

Roll widthwise

Again, with this fold the pad should be enclosed by your labia.

interlabial pad rolled widthwise

Origami shape

With this fold, you end up with a flap that will lie flat outside of your labia with the rest enclosed by your labia.

interlabial pad origami fold

 

Change your interlabial pad regularly. We recommend changing when at full capacity or every 4-6 hours. When you are finished, place the interlabial pad in a wetbag or with your laundry and wash as normal at up to 60 degrees. You can wash them separately with your cloth pads or with your normal laundry. As with cloth pads, it is a good idea to rinse your interlabial pads until the water runs clear before putting in the washing machine. If you want to avoid staining, you should thoroughly rinse your interlabial pads under cold water immediately after use.

Buying Interlabial Pads

The number of interlabial pads you’ll need will depend on your flow and what you require them for. We recommend a pack of 10 as a starting point as this will last about 3 days without washing if you use them during your period. If you are using them for discharge or occasional light incontinence, you may get away with using about 2 per day.

You will want to make sure you are purchasing an interlabial pad made from breathable fabric. They are normally made from cotton, but it is a good idea to check. Fialuna’s interlabial pads are made from 100% organic cotton so they are not only breathable, but being organic means they are more sustainable.

Interlabial pads are not the most popular form of period protection. However, they are a very good inexpensive alternative to cloth pantyliners and offer an extra layer of protection for those with a heavy flow.

Make your Own Interlabial Pads

Making your own interlabial pads is a relatively easy task. However, unless you have a sewing machine, it is something that is likely to take considerable time. Allow 15-20 minutes to make each pad or about 2.5-3 hours for 10 pads if you are planning to hand stitch.

If you aren't confident in your sewing skills, please refer back to our Buying Interlabial Pads section.

Materials Required

  1. Needle
  2. Pin
  3. Thread
  4. Fabric (cotton flannel is best)
  5. Tracing paper or greaseproof paper
  6. Scissors
  7. Ruler (optional)

Step 1

Wash your fabric. You can skip this if you are making them out of something that has been washed before, but otherwise it’s best to wash and dry first to shrink the fabric and also increase absorbency. Anything made from cotton is going to need several washes to get to full absorbency level.

Step 2

Trace and cut out your pattern. You'll want your pads to be about 4 - 5 cm x 8 - 10 cm. You can adjust the size to suit your needs.

interlabial pad pattern makinginterlabial pad pattern making
interlabial pad pattern makinginterlabial pad pattern making

Step 3

Pin your pattern to the fabric and make 2 cuts of fabric to sew together.

interlabial pad pattern cuttinginterlabial pad pattern cuttinginterlabial pad pattern cutting

Step 4

Choose a stitch and sew along the edge of the two fabrics. A whip stitch is relatively simple but may not provide the cleanest look. A blanket stitch works well in a triangle shape.

interlabial pad sewinterlabial pad blanket stitchinterlabial pad blanket stitch

Interlabial Pad Pros 

Eco-friendly

Since they are reusable, you can use them over and over again.

Discreet

They are small and discreet and offer an alternative to a pantyliner.

Inexpensive

If you are looking for a reusable option, they are less expensive than cloth pantyliners. Fialuna sell them for just £12.50 for a pack of 10.

Easy DIY

If you have more time than money and are on a really tight budget, Interlabial pads are not too difficult to sew by hand. If you are handy with a sewing machine, it's even more simple.

Comfort

Interlabial protection may in some case be more comfortable than a pad or pantyliner. Particularly, for more active individuals.

Safe

Interlabial pads are very safe to use and pose no risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) because they are not used internally.

Interlabial Pad Cons

Forget them

You have to remember you are wearing one when using the toilet as they can fall out into the toilet easily.

Drying

If you are using them as a backup or with a very light flow, they can absorb the moisture from your skin. You can always wet the pad first to avoid this.

Comfort

You may not find them as comfortable as other options (very much an individual preference).

Anatomy Specific

Some people’s anatomy (small labia) may not hold them in position very well

Concluding Thoughts

Interlabial pads have short history of use for menstrual protection and are not well known. In our experience, about half of users find them comfortable and useful and will continue to use them once they try them out. The only way to know if they are right for you, is to give them a go. They aren't particularly expensive so you don't have much to lose in giving them a try.

Try them here.