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Menstrual cup vs tampon vs pads: Which period product offers better protection?

Menstrual cup vs tampon vs pads: Confused about choosing which is better for you? Here are the pros and cons of each you should know.
menstrual cup vs tampon vs pads
Read on to know a detailed guide on pros and cons of menstrual cup, tampons and pads. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock.
Shruti Bhattacharya Published: 10 Feb 2024, 07:30 pm IST
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As women, we all know the struggles of menstruation – the cramps, mood swings, food cravings, and the fear of leakage. It’s crucial to maintain hygiene during periods by using sanitary pads, tampons, or menstrual cups. There have been significant advancements in feminine hygiene products, offering women a range of choices. While sanitary pads remain the preferred choice in India, emerging options like tampons and menstrual cups are gaining popularity. However, younger women are increasingly opting for tampons or menstrual cups. So, the question arises – which one is more effective: menstrual cup vs tampon vs pads? Here are the pros and cons of menstrual cups, tampons, and pads.

Menstrual cup vs tampons vs pads: Pros and cons

Here are the pros and cons of menstrual cups, tampons, and pads as explained by the gynecologist, Dr Anilasre Atluri.

What is a menstrual cup?

It is a flexible cone-shaped feminine hygiene product designed for use during menstruation. Unlike pads and Tampons, menstrual cups are used to collect the blood instead of absorbing it. It is inserted into the vagina and can be reused for years.

Pros of menstrual cup

1. Promotes low leakage

Menstrual cups have a low leakage rate when properly inserted and sealed.

2. Maintains natural pH balance

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They do not absorb any bacteria and can’t upset your body’s natural pH balance.

3. Keeps odour at bay

With menstrual cups, you won’t have to worry about any sort of odour.

4. Environment-friendly

It is an eco-friendly product and also generates less waste.

5. Economically feasible

You might have to spend a little extra on a menstrual cup initially, but it lasts you a long time. So you don’t need to worry about spending money on menstrual products every now and then.

Menstrual cup vs sanitary oad
Use the right period product for yourself. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Cons of menstrual cup

1. Removal is messy

Inserting a menstrual cup may seem easy, but removing it can be tricky. You may take some time to understand how it works properly.

2. Needs proper maintenance

It is necessary to rinse and clean the cup after removal before reassembling it. Moreover, the cup needs to be sterilised either with hot water or a cleanser after every use. The cup may harbour bacteria if it is not properly cleaned, which might potentially cause an illness or cause the silicone material to break down.

3. Possible fit issues

The menstrual cup is not a “one size fits all” approach so you might need to try a few different kinds or sizes to see which one works best for you. Menstrual cups may cause problems if you have a lowered uterus or a low cervix.

What is a tampon?

Tampons are disposable period products typically made of soft, absorbent materials, such as cotton, rayon, or a combination of both, and are cylindrical. Tampons are inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual fluid directly from the source.

Pros of tampon

1. Availability of size is easy

Most women choose to wear tampons rather than sanitary pads. Tampons come in a variety of sizes and absorbencies. Thus, you can use it for up to 8 hours.

2. No visibility

It might be very awkward if a pad peeks through your underwear. But with tampons, you can be carefree about this problem.

3. Prevents odour

Tampons have less smell than pads or other external goods since they are inserted internally.

4. Allows swimming and other physical activities

In contrast to pads, tampons allow you to swim while on your period. It is also possible to play sports and partake in other strenuous activities because they provide greater comfort than pads.

Tampons should not be used for a long duration. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Cons of tampon

1. May increase toxic shock syndrome risk

Tampons can increase the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), so it’s important to use them in accordance with suggested instructions to reduce this risk.

2. Increases risk of infections

The body may get inflamed or infected with bacteria as a result of tampon residue or fibres. Tampons also may not be as effective for people with specific medical concerns, including vaginal infections or sensitivity, and they may require the use of other menstrual products instead.

3. May be uncomfortable

When using tampons, some users may feel sensitive or uncomfortable, especially if the tampon is not put correctly or of the inadequate absorbency level.

What is a sanitary pad?

Sanitary pads are rectangular pieces of absorbent material that are stuck to the panties to absorb menstrual flow during periods. They come in different sizes, need to be changed often, and are typically made of layers of absorbent material, including cotton, rayon, and other synthetic materials.

Also Read: Using expired sanitary pads or tampons can be dangerous: Know the side effects

Pros of sanitary pad

1. No risks of TSS

Compared to tampons, sanitary pads have no risk of TSS (Toxic shock Syndrome) which means less to worry about.

2. Easy to use

Sanitary pads are comparatively simple to utilise and don’t call for any particular methods or abilities. They stay in place while being used because of their sticky side, which adheres to undergarments. Most individuals feel that using pads during their periods is easier, and they are also much simpler to use and dispose of.

3. Avoids leakage for a longer duration

To prevent discomfort, sanitary pads are made with a high level of absorbency. There are super long pads, long pads, thick pads, and super thin ones, women have a lot of options when it comes to wearing pads.

4. Easily available

Women can easily get sanitary pads because they are readily available in most stores and pharmacy shops.

Cons of the sanitary pad

1. May feel uncomfortable

Extended use of a pad may result in irritation, redness, and rashes. Additionally, it may obstruct the movement of air to your vagina, raising the possibility of bacterial infections and skin problems. Periodic sanitary pad use can occasionally cause discomfort, particularly if the pads are not changed regularly.

2. Limitations on movement

Sanitary pads can leak and make walking uncomfortable, especially when engaging in strenuous activity or exercise if they are not replaced on time.

3. Not eco-friendly 

Sanitary pads produce a lot of waste, which ends up in landfills and takes a long time to disintegrate because each one can only be used once before having to be disposed of. However, the market is slowly seeing a rise in eco-friendly period products now.

How to choose between menstrual cups, tampons, and pads?

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and what works best for one person may not work for another. However, the choice between menstrual cups, tampons, and pads depends on individual preferences. If you prefer a smaller, less visible method and are okay with insertion, using a tampon is fine. If you prefer the external method that doesn’t require insertion, it is better to use pads. If you’re looking for an odourless reusable option, menstrual cups are the right feminine hygiene product to use as per convenience, needs, and lifestyle.

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About the Author

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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