Menstrual Product Shopping Tips for Korea

Do you need help shopping for menstrual products/ feminine hygiene products in Korea? You have come to the right place. This post offers tips for finding the right products, images from Korean products, and cultural insight. Information is power and we believe in empowering people with information so let’s go!

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Different English-speaking countries and cultures use different terms for menstrual products. Such products may also be called: period products, sanitary products, or feminine hygiene products.

Each menstruating person develops their own preferred feminine hygiene system during their lifetime. Oftentimes, the process of finding the right products involves trial and error that may involve some level of trauma. Such struggle means that menstruating people often don’t want to start over with new products, brands, or materials. They don’t want the stress of figuring out menstrual care all over again and they never imagine they will need to. Then they decide to move across the world to a new culture and country.

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When moving to a new country, menstruating people are often confronted with a new feminine hygiene culture. That’s because menstruating people in different cultures experience their own history, traditions, beliefs, comforts, and traumas. Such differences mean that they may have different expectations, companies may create different products, and stores may sell different products. This is because countries manage supply and demand based on their own experiences and local culture. Such supply chains are also governed by different international trade agreements, religions, and economies of scale.

Suddenly menstruating people are faced with highly personal and complicated choices in a new language in a culture. Such cultures may not even offer open discourse regarding menstruation. Therefore, finding reliable information regarding menstrual products may feel overwhelming, embarrassing, or impossible.

Additionally, online support and information may also be limited. Most people blogging around the world feel uncomfortable talking about women’s issues. Additionally, immigrant or travel bloggers may feel that sharing detailed information about menstruation products along with cafes and restaurants may not fit their brand. Therefore, information about menstrual products beyond, “Do they exist, don’t they exist?” may exist as limited.

In our research, we have found that such previously mentioned issues may lead to menstruating people feeling isolated, stressed, afraid, and unsafe. Therefore, South of Seoul volunteers decided to create a Feminine Hygiene series to create a foundation of support for menstruating people living in Korea.

Common Menstrual Product Issues for Immigrants in Korea

Immigrants who come from countries where tampons are commonly used often feel frustrated when they move to Korea. Struggles may include:

  • Lack of access to preferred products.
  • Menstrual products are sold in different types of stores or locations in the store compared to home so they feel hard to find.
  • Personal feelings of fear or shame related to asking staff or friends for help finding products.
  • Unable to read the packaging.
  • Unhappy with style, shape, and absorbency.

Keep in mind, that not everyone struggles with the same things. It simply depends on your preferences, experience, and worldview. For myself and many friends, the adjustment to Korean menstrual products was simple and uncomplicated. We brought what we needed from home for the first three months and used that time to test products and figure how where they were sold. However, I’ve talked to people who felt quite angry and frustrated during their entire life in Korea. Both experiences are valid and it’s good to talk about how you feel.

Common Menstrual Products in Korea

The three most common menstrual products in Korea are disposable pads, liners, and tampons. The most commonly used of the three are pads. If you read our post Historical Overview of Feminine Hygiene in Korea you can learn more about the stats on feminine hygiene product use in Korea. We highly recommend doing this extra reading because it helps you understand the experience of women around you.

Product from Olive Young

Other Menstrual Products in Korea

In addition to the 3 most common menstrual products, people can also find menstrual cups (period cups), disposable period underwear, washable period underwear, and washable pads. Some of the items such as menstrual cups can be found in stores like Olive Young. If you don’t find pads or tampons that you like, it’s a great time to try a new approach. Many women I know switched to menstrual cups, IUDs, or period underwear after moving to Korea and they prefer the new product. They found moving across the world helped motivate them make a change they had been afraid to make.

Products at Olive Young

While others like reusable pads and period underwear are sold online in shops like Coupang. Don’t be afraid to do your feminine hygiene shopping online. You can use the Korean terms found in our Feminine Hygiene in Korea blog series to help with your searches. You can also use Papago to translate English into Korean and try that.

Reading Menstrual Product Packaging

You can use the Naver Papago translation app or the Google Translation app to take a photo of a product and then translate the packaging. The translation isn’t always perfect but you often learn what you need to know. It’s also best to use Korean terms when shopping in Korean online stores. In fact, you may find completely different product lists when using Korean v. English.

Papago Translation App

Papago Translation App5

The best Korean translation app. You can even translate text from photos using your camera or a photo from your folders. There is also a website.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

The Papago image-to-text photo tool works in a few different ways. In the following image, you can see that we have taken a photo and selected a small area of text. The Papago translation works very well, much better than Google Translate in most situations because it’s developed in Korea by Koreans.

Sizing for Menstrual Pads

Most feminine hygiene pad packaging will include a sizing chart. For many international residents who come from different countries, the centimeter (cm) sizing will be easy. However, for those from the United States, this might take a while to get used to.

People from the US may want to use a measuring tape at home to get an idea of how big 26 cm, 29 cm, and 42 cm relates to your familiar pad sizes. It’s very hard to judge size standing in a store with no ability to visually how long 1cm is.

Product from Olive Young

As you can see in the above image, this type of pad comes in three sizes: Average 중형 (26cm), Large 대형 (29cm), and Super 슈퍼 (42cm). However, not all Korean menstrual product companies have the same sizes so read each product carefully. Below you can see another example of the size chart from another pad company.

Product from Olive Young

Cultural Notes on Menstrual Pad Sizing

In the United States, the exact size of pads isn’t always clearly listed. Instead, the packaging just says small, medium, large, or super. Therefore, when I moved to Korea I had trouble understanding how to choose the right size. This resulted in pads that were either too big or too small.

After researching I learned that the average menstrual pad sizes in the United States range from 17cm to 25cm for day pads to 35cm+ for Night pads. If you look at the Korean packaging you can see they range from 21cm – 42cm. One can assume that these different sizes will all wear quite different. Understanding such sizing variations helped me find the best solution for myself.

Shopping for Tampons in Korea

Korean stores do not carry as many tampon options as stores in North America. There will often be only 1-3 choices. However, Olive Young has been challenging this and offering more options.

Tampon designs in Korea may be less compact compared to many North American brands. Instead, the tampons in Korea tend to be the classic style. The Korean companies do not try to go for the sleek effect.

In terms of materials, Koreans prefer cotton-based tampons as they are seen as more healthy. You will notice the boxes covered in cotton plants.

Number of Tampons in a Box

If you look at each tampon box above you may notice the number followed by 개입. This tells you how many tampons are in the box. Korea tends to sell small boxes with only 6-12 tampons per box.


Additionally, the three droplets pictured on the tampon packaging show their level of absorbance. The more dark drops, the greater the absorbency.

List of Common Tampon Brands Available in Korea

The Expat Guide in Korea compiled the following list and we reduced their list down to the key features of each brand. The following list is not exhaustive and changes over time. Types of common tampon brands are:
Tempo 템포

  • Popular Korean tampon brand.
  • Made from 100% cotton.
  • Two sizes: Small (10 tampons/box), Big (8 tampons/box).
  • Ensure proper fit; reposition if uncomfortable.

White Tampon 화이트 탐폰

  • Available in most Korean supermarkets.
  • Made from natural ingredients.
  • Size of a lipstick.
  • Possible leakage issues.

Playtex Tampons

  • Popular American brand available in Korea.
  • Suitable for sports.
  • 3-layer cotton design; protective and prevents leakage.
  • Easy-to-use cylindrical design.
  • Hygienic individual covers.


  • Tampons with applicators.
  • Bestseller: Pearl line.
  • Multi-layered thread design.
  • Natural cotton fibers; high absorbency.
  • Suitable for swimming and exercise.

U by Kotex

  • Applicator and non-applicator options.
  • Five types, all unscented.
  • Up to 100% leak-free.

OB Tampons

  • Lesser-known in Korea; budget-friendly.
  • Digital tampons (inserted with a finger).
  • Silky exterior for easy insertion.
  • May be uncomfortable for new users.

Happy Moonday 해피문데이

  • Korean brand.
  • Popular product: Light line, ideal for exercise.
  • Made from 100% cotton.
  • Comes with an applicator; ISO certified.

Good Feeling 좋은느낌

  • Popular Korean brand.
  • Available in convenience stores and supermarkets.
  • Organic cotton material.
  • Two types: Regular (5-9g absorption) & Super (8-12g absorption).
  • Helps prevent odors and skin irritation.

Shopping for Washable Period Underwear

If you use washable period underwear, we recommend bringing them from your home country. This is because Korea often has limited sizes. However, if you live in Korea and you need new period underwear you can purchase them on Coupang. You can find washable period underwear on Korean shopping sizes by searching 생리팬티. Additionally, Amazon ships to Korea surprisingly fast and cheap so that is also an option for many people.

South of Seoul volunteers have not had the opportunity to test the washable period underwear sizing in Korea. In the image below, you can see that Coupang sells 85-110. For perspective, a 110 trouser fits about a size 12 USA or size 36 European. This means women over this size may not fit washable period underwear in Korea.

Now that you know more about shopping for menstrual products in Korea, it’s time to jump to the next blog post in the SOS Public Health Feminine Hygiene blog series.

Summary of Tips for Menstrual Products in Korea

We know that not everyone will want to read all of the detailed information provided in this blog post, so here is a quick summary of tips provided:

  • If moving to Korea, bring 3 months of menstrual products.
  • Don’t wait to run out, use those 3 months to test different products and find what makes you comfortable.
  • If you aren’t used to using centimeters, use a tape measure to get an idea of Korean sizes before you go to the store (We included sizing in the previous information.)
  • Find the closest Olive Young because they are expanding their menstrual products and carrying a little of everything.
  • Shop online for a better assortment of products that ship quickly to your home.
  • Use Papago to help translate product packaging or source Korean words for search terms.
  • If you can’t find tampons or pads you like, try a menstrual cup, washable period pads, or washable period underwear.
  • Washable period underwear in Korea mostly go to 110 Korean size so larger people may want to bring such items with them or order from Amazon in the US since they have cheap and fast shipping.

Honestly, though, go read the rest of the article if you just skipped to here. If not, at least read about the history of menstrual culture in Korea.

Vocabulary List

  • 중형: medium (around 26cm)
  • 대형: Large (around 29cm)
  • 슈퍼: Super (around 42cm)
  • 소 (small)
  • 중 (medium)
  • 대 (large)
  • 무표백: unbleached, which means that your pad will not be stark white.
  • 유기농: organic cotton used in the pads.
  • 오버나이트: overnight, and they average out to be 33 cm in length.
  • 맥시슬림: maxi slim but still somewhat thick
  • 울트라슬림: Ultra-slim are the thinnest pads
  • 팬티형: a pad that curves to the shape of underwear. 
  • 탐폰: tampon
  • 생리팬티: Washable period underwear.
  • 면생리대: Washable period pads.

Learn About Feminine Hygiene History in Korea

We also highly recommend that you read about the history of menstrual products in Korea.

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