When I have my period, can I go a whole school day without changing the pad? – Kim*
It's not a good idea to go an entire school day without changing pads, pantiliners, or tampons. No matter how light your flow is, or even if there is no flow, bacteria can build up. Changing your pad every 3 or 4 hours (more if your period is heavy) is good hygiene and helps prevent bad odors. This is especially true if you'll be playing sports or rushing around from class to class.
Changing pads often also helps prevent accidental leaks. If your period suddenly gets heavier when you least expect it, you'll be wearing a fresh pad that's able to absorb the extra flow.
If you're worried that you don't have enough time between classes to change pads, you might want to talk to a trusted teacher or school nurse for some advice. Some students find the best time is during lunch period or when changing clothes for gym class.
Some girls feel embarrassed about having to carry around or change pads at school. If you keep pads zipped up in a makeup case, no one will see them if things fall out of your backpack. And when you're unwrapping a pad in the bathroom stall, it's unlikely that anyone is listening to what you're doing (and other girls have to change their pads and tampons too). Like anything else that can seem awkward at first, changing pads at school gets easier the more you do it.
* Names have been changed to protect user privacy.