Pads, tampons or menstrual cup? – How to decide which option is best for you

Today, menstruators have more choice compared to any other time in history when it comes to selecting menstrual products. From tampons, menstrual cups, sponges, disposable pads, reusable pads and reusable period underwear it can get quite overwhelming when trying to decide what’s best for you.

In this week’s blog, we weigh out the pros and cons of the menstrual cup, and disposable pads and tampons. So, if you’re on the fence about switching to any of these or adding any to your range of menstrual care products, this will assist in making things easier for you.

Please note that this information is just a guideline. At the end of the day the final decision is yours and comes down to personal preference, lifestyle, budget and what you’re most comfortable with.

PADS

Pros

Pads are the most common menstrual product used when someone first gets their period because of their simplicity. If you’re still getting used to having your period and all that comes along with it, pads are your best bet for now. Pads are also a great alternative for people who struggle with vaginal insertion. If you’re not at the point yet where you’re comfortable inserting something into the vagina or if you have vaginismus, pads are a great alternative.

Some menstruators prefer feeling the flow of blood leave their vaginas while others might not. Pads are great if you want to feel your menstrual flow and if you want a much clearer idea of what your flow is like. It also allows the natural process of vaginal cleaning to take place much easier because the blood is allowed to flow out without any interruption.

It’s recommended to use pads overnight instead of tampons, as tampons can only be used for up to 8 hours due to the risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Cons

One of the biggest cons with pads is that they’re not ideal if you have an active lifestyle as you can’t swim in them. Taking part in high energy sports with a pad can be very uncomfortable and make you more prone to leakage.

Another con that all pad users can agree on is that pads are a lot more susceptible to shift around and move out of place, especially if the glue isn’t strong enough or if a wing wasn’t secured correctly. This also increases the risk of leakage.

Disposable pads that aren’t biodegradable or organic are filled with plastic and extremely harmful to the environment and your body. They’re a large contributor to plastic in landfills and in natural environments like the ocean. One regular, non-organic pad can take up to 500 to 800 years to breakdown.

TAMPONS

Pros

Tampons are excellent for those who are more experienced with their menstruation, as well as inserting something into their vagina. They’re also so amazing if you live a more active lifestyle, and you can swim while using a tampon.

Although insertion can be very uncomfortable at first, once you get the knack of it you won’t be able to feel the tampon at all while it does its thing. For a lot of menstruators this pro is very appealing and forms a large part of why they use tampons.

Cons

Tampons are known to dry out the vagina, specifically the natural vaginal fluids which exist to lubricate it. Another major con is the insertion, as it can be very tricky at first if you’re not familiar with it. But over time, and with practice it will become easier. If you’re struggling, check out our YouTube video on how to insert a tampon which is great for first-timers!

Another significant con is Toxic Shock Syndrome, which although quite rare it deters a lot of menstruators from tampons because of fear of getting TSS. As we discussed earlier this month, TSS is not caused by tampons but by a bacteria that’s naturally found in the vagina. Your risk of TSS only becomes high if you have a tampon inserted for more than eight hours and has a very high absorbency level.

Non-organic tampons create so much waste and also take about 500-800 years to breakdown. They’re doused with chemicals like bleach and dioxin too. There are about 30 000 tampons collected from the ocean each day.

MENSTRUAL CUPS

Pros

One of the biggest pros menstrual cup users rave about is how infrequently it needs to be emptied as it can be worn for up to 12 hours. Some menstrual cups can be used for up to 10 years, so they’re not only sustainable for the environment but also your pocket. If you purchase a medical-grade silicone cup it will be hypoallergenic and have no chemicals so there’s less chance of getting an allergic reaction or rash ,which is common with non-organic pads and tampons.

Like tampons, once you are comfortable with folding and inserting the menstrual cup you won’t feel it at all. It’s also great for swimming and a super active lifestyle!

Cons

Some people might feel a bit uncomfortable with emptying and cleaning the cup. This can take some getting used to. The cup does require a little bit more maintenance than disposable pads and tampons as it needs to be regularly sterilised. The cup has become enormously popular in recent years, and this popularity has birthed many brands all over the world to create and sell their own cup. When selecting a cup and a brand, you need to be vigilant about what material the cup is made of as there are some brands that are just looking to profit and don’t actually care about your health or wellbeing. Don’t be lured in by cheaper cup prices, as more often than not there’s a sinister reason behind why it’s so cheap. Ensure at the very least that the cup is made from medical-grade silicone.