Menstruation  Ageing 

Menstrual Cups vs Tampons vs Sanitary Pads

The Equating Logical  |  Oct 31

Menstrual Cups vs Tampons vs Sanitary Pads

Menstrual hygiene products- which is the best one? 

Should I avoid all hassle and go for the pad?

I really don’t want to skip swimming, should I start using tampons instead?

I’ve heard about vaginal dryness or UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections) due to the use of tampons? Are menstrual cups best for me?

If you have these questions as a female- let us assure you, this is totally normal! Let us objectively help you out today, and let you decide what’s best for you.

An illustration of an abdomen of a woman surrounded by menstrual cups, tampon and sanitary pads
Source: freepik

Sanitary Pads:

The most conventional menstrual hygiene product. Pads started coming during the initial days as pieces of block cloth. Research and Development fuelled pads to be more comfortable- having wings, with materials that turned ‘liquid’ to gel and the list grew.

top view of a sanitary pad on a pink background
Source: freepik

Pros:

  • No insertion: There are a lot of ladies, who still prefer to not have anything artificial going in. Pads just stay there, patiently waiting to be your buddy.
  • No risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome: A bacterial infection, Toxic Shock Syndrome can be caused if a tampon is left inside for too long, absorbing the natural lubricants that protect the vagina from infections. Pads do not disrupt the natural flow of menstrual blood.
  • Cost-effective: The basic pads have had a lot of research and work on them and are arguably the cheapest hygiene product out there.

Cons:
Pads aren’t all that saintly after all!

  • Rash: The most common complaint about using pads. If you have moderate to high levels of physical activity, the repeated chafing between your inner thighs could give you a rash.
  • Bleach- the risk of cervical or ovarian cancer: Pads contain bleach which could lead to cancer. While this would not happen immediately, a few decades of use can trigger that over a prolonged period of time.
  • Restricted physical activity: Physical activities like swimming can be a distant dream if you wear pads. Intense exercise routines are challenging when wearing pads.
  • Not eco-friendly: While you may have heard this, a woman on average uses approximately 10,000 sanitary pads during her lifetime! More than that, a single pad takes 500-800 years to decompose completely!

Tampons:

Those little cylindrical-shaped pads that fit inside your vagina is another alternative for your period cycles.

If you have a relatively active lifestyle or fancy wearing thongs, tampons are an effective alternative.

A woman holding a tampon
Source: freepik

Pros:

  • No leakage: Tampons absorb all possible blood even before it leaves your vagina, which cuts out any anxiety of staining.
  • Easy to carry: The blocks of cotton are easy to carry, they occupy little space and can easily fit in your small pockets.
  • Comfort: Once inserted tampons let you be carefree and at ease. You can rest assured that that little cotton blob is all the menstrual blood.

Cons:

  • Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): The leading challenge that tampons face is the trigger of TSS. Tampons are excellent absorbers, to the extent that they end up soaking your vagina’s natural lubrication as well. This often ends up in dryness or even Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) as well.
  • Initial struggle: Inserting a tampon inside your vagina initially can be a challenging task. Some women also complain of pain or discomfort while insertion.
  • Bleach: Like pads, tampons also contain bleach in them. This could again trigger causes of cancer in long term usage.
  • Shorter duration of wear: Tampons should not be worn for more than 8 hours. While this is okay in most cases, if you get your night’s sleep for a full 8 hours, tampons may not be the best idea for you.
  • Not eco-friendly: Like pads, a woman also ends up using about 240 tampons a year, and over 9000 tampons in her lifetime.
A woman holding a menstrual cup
Source: freepik

Menstrual Cups:

The newbie, menstrual cups are widely known for being environmentally friendly but have myths associated with their usage.

Pros:

  • No chemicals: Menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone or latex and are perfectly healthy for your vagina. Theo not contain any chemicals as in comparison to pads or tampons.
  • No TSS: They merely collect the blood that gets drained from your cervix and does not interfere with the vaginal flora.
  • Lesser changes: An average woman discharges about 45 ML of blood during her period. A menstrual cup can hold between 25 to 30 ML.
  • Eco-friendly: Perhaps the one point many were looking for?
    Menstrual cups are the most eco-friendly product out there. While the duration of usage completely depends on the individual, a menstrual cup lasts at least for 6 months and can be used up to 10 years!

Cons:

Okay, okay… let’s talks about what are some of the challenges that menstrual cups have.

  • Investment: A good menstrual cup can 4 to 5 times that of a sanitary pad. However, this cost evens out or becomes feasible in the longer term.
  • Insertion: Inserting a menstrual cup, like tampons can feel odd initially. The cups are softer and more flexible than tampons and cause little to no pain on insertion. The idea of putting something up your vagina is what you have to tackle.
  • Cleaning: Cleaning the cup is the biggest challenge of using a cup, as you need to sterilize it in order to avoid any infection. A simple soap wash would not cut it.
A graphic illustration of a girl surrounded by menstrual cups tampon and sanitary pads while holding a menstrual cup

(Source: Freepik)

Overall, the sanitary product you choose is really your personal choice or preference. Menstrual cups have of course had a lot of unknown to it, but surely remain one of the best choices for female menstrual hygiene to date. 

Cover photo by freepik


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