Living in Japan

How to Find Feminine Hygiene Products in Japan

Some women worry that they won’t be able to find their preferred type of feminine hygiene products when they travel abroad. They’ll stuff their suitcases with tampons or pads, hoping that they packed enough to last until they get home. While it can be difficult to find tampons (or other period products) in some parts of the world, that is not the case in Japan. It’s quite easy to find pads and tampons in Japan, and alternative period products like menstrual cups aren’t impossible to source. You can save the precious room in your suitcase for bringing items that are more fun with you. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about finding feminine hygiene products in Japan.  

Where to Buy Feminine Hygiene Products

There are many different places in Japan that sell feminine hygiene products. You’ll have the largest variety of choices if you visit a drugstore. However, you’ll be able to find a smaller selection of period products at places like convenience stores and supermarkets. Look for the aisle that sells 生理用品せいりようひん (seiri youhinn, “period products”) You can also order feminine hygiene products online. Many drugstore chains have websites that you can order from. In addition, you may be able to purchase the products you used back home from sites like Amazon or iHerb. However, it is usually cheaper to buy Japanese products. 

When it Comes to Pads, Your Options Are Endless

Pads are the most popular period product in Japan, and this popularity is reflected in the seemingly endless variety of pads available at almost every drugstore. Pads are known as 生理用せいりようナプキン (seiriyou napukinn, “sanitary napkin”) or simply ナプキン (napukinn, “napkin”).

There are many different brands and sizes of pads. Some drugstores leave out samples of pads so you can see what they look like before purchasing them. Pads are typically sold by length, and range in size from 21 cm to 40 cm. There is also the distinction between daytime ひるよう (hiruyou, “for day”) and nighttime pads よるよう (yoruyou, “for night”). Nighttime pads are usually more absorbent than daytime pads and are sometimes sold in sizes longer than 40 cm. 

Panty liners in Japan are known as パンティライナー (panti raina). They usually come in two sizes: slim スリム (surimu) or うす(usui, “thin”) and super slim 極薄きょくうす (kyoku usu, “very thin”)

There Are Fewer Types of Tampons

Tampons are far less popular than pads in Japan, so there usually aren’t as many types to choose from. However, there is usually at least one brand and a couple of different sizes offered. Tampons are called タンポン (tannponn) in Japanese. You can expect to see regular レギュラー (regyura) and super スーパー (supa) tampons offered at almost every store. Stores with a larger range of options may also stock light ライト (raito) and super plus スーパープラス (supa purasu) tampons. You might also see tampons that are advertised as being soft ソフト (sofuto) or compact コンパクト (connpakuto)

Products Like Menstrual Cups Are Harder to Come By

It’s not super easy to find menstrual cups 月経げっけいカップ (gekkei kapu, “menstrual cup”) or reusable pads ぬのナプキン (nuno napukinn, “cloth napkin”) in Japan, but it’s not impossible either. You probably won’t be able to find them at drugstores or supermarkets. However, they’re relatively easy to find online.

You can find almost anything on Amazon, and alternative period products are no exception. In addition, menstrual cups can typically be found at stores that sell intimate and sexual wellness products geared towards women. While they’re a bit harder to source than menstrual cups or reusable pads, you may also be able to buy menstrual sponges スポンジタンポン (suponnji tannponn, “sponge tampon”) while in Japan. 

Dealing With Period Pain

With periods come cramps, headaches, and all sorts of other uncomfortable feelings. You can find a variety of over the counter painkillers at every drugstore in Japan. Loxoprofen ロキソプロフェン (rokisopurofenn)  is a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) in Japan that is sold under the name ロキソニン (rokisoninn). You can also find ibuprofen イブプロフェン (ibupurofenn), which is typically sold under the brand name イブ (ibu). Tylenol, or acetaminophen アセトアミノフェン (asetoaminofenn) is usually sold in combination tablets with ibuprofen and caffeine for more severe types of pain. However, the Tylenol brand タイレノール (tairenol) can be found in many Japanese drugstores. 

For those looking for non-pharmaceutical pain relief, disposable heat packs 懐炉かいろ (kairo) and hot water bottles たんぽ (yutannpo) can be found quite easily at drugstores and supermarkets. You might also want to take a nice, hot bath. There are plenty of nice bath bombs, salts, and bubbles that you can purchase to make your soak extra relaxing.  

Finally, if your period pain is so severe that you find yourself taking double (or triple..or more) doses of over the counter painkillers for relief, it’s best to see an OBGYN. Excruciatingly painful periods can be a sign of health problems, such as endometriosis or adenomyosis. Bleeding through a super tampon or large pad every two hours (or more frequently) is also a sign that you should see a doctor. 

Written by Julia Nagai.

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