Are menstrual cups better than tampons and pads?
We all have a similar story to tell when it comes to starting our periods, and we were all given the same fateful choice: Pads or Tampons?
But what about menstrual cups? Are menstrual cups better than tampons and pads
“Girls, you’ll probably find it easier to begin with sanitary towels when your first menstrual cycle arrives, but you might want to use tampons when you do sports or go swimming.” says Jenny, your year 6 maths teacher turned sex educator whom started her period around 35 years ago.
My preference generally leant more towards tampons (despite the dryness they hindered me with) due to the cleaner feeling they offered and because they weren’t as accident-prone as the counter-offer of pads (which would scramble around in my undies as if they were actively dodging any drops of blood from actually absorbing into them).
I figured this was how periods are and I’d just have to get used to days of checking my seats for blood stains each time I got up and nights of choosing between the anxiety of leaking onto my bedsheets because my pad wasn’t doing the job and the anxiety of potentially being carted off to hospital with TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) because my tampon had been in for more than 8 hours, just like all the horror stories I’d heard.
Why aren’t we educated about menstrual cups?
It wasn’t until I was 18 years old and already 7 years into having periods that I discovered menstrual cups were even an option. I proceeded to read through the limited information google had at the time on these peculiar cups before taking the plunge and placing my order. Are menstrual cups better than tampons and pads? I was determined to find out.
It’s been about 6 years since and I haven’t looked back. The thought of inserting a tampon into my vagina these days and feeling ~that~ scratchy feeling truly makes both me and my vulva shudder.
Presumably you’re already curious about menstrual cups and you’re doing the same research I did all those years ago. So what makes menstrual cups so great? Why should you make the same switch I did? That’s what you’re here for, right? Well, I’m going to tell you.
Et voila, here are 16 reasons you should switch to a menstrual cup ASAP.
1. MENSTRUAL CUPS WILL SAVE YOU (A LOT OF) MONEY
I worked out that using a Pimento menstrual cup will save you around £32 per year. That means after just a couple of months, you’ll have made your money back from the purchase of your new cup!
(I worked this out based on roughly how much tampons would cost per month. However, if you were to go by the studies that say the average woman spends £5000 on menstrual products in her lifetime – you will be saving more than double what I said!)
2. THEY LET YOU KEEP YOUR NATURAL MOISTURE
It’s no secret that tampons and pads are super absorbent – that’s the whole point right?
Well, something you may not have thought about is that they don’t ONLY absorb blood, but also the natural fluids and bacteria that are necessary for your vagina and your vagina’s ph balance too, which is why you’ve probably experienced some vaginal dryness around that time of the month (maybe even thrush!).
The great thing about menstrual cups is that they allow your vagina to continue working exactly as it’s supposed to, all the while still catching the blood in the process!
No longer will you have to store dozens of tampons and/or pads in your bag during your period, because while you’re on your period, you literally store your menstrual cup inside of YOU!
You can’t tell me that’s not handy!
(And when you need to empty, simply rinse and repeat!)
4. SAVE THE PLANET
Both tampons and pads take anywhere from around 500 to 1000 years to decompose. This is not including the very common plastic applicators and plastic packaging they come wrapped in.
Menstrual cups are a zero-waste sanitary product, and using a menstrual cup for just one month saves on average 15 tampons and/or pads and their wrapping from going into landfill or the sewage systems and seas.
That means, depending on your cycle length, flow and typical menstrual routine, you’d be saving around 180 disposable sanitary products with just one single year of using a menstrual cup.
(That means I’ve saved over 1000 tampons from going into landfill in my 6 years of being a menstrual cup user – AND I have much healthier and happier periods!)
5. MOST DISPOSABLE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS AREN’T SUSTAINABLY OR ETHICALLY MADE
Most of the popular sanitary product brands don’t use eco-friendly practises, aren’t organic and/or don’t pay their workers a living wage or provide an ethical or safe working environment.
While there are an increasing amount of ethical and sustainable brands on the market, this is only very recently the case. This means that unless you’re actively researching and sourcing your tampons from good brands, the likelihood is that you’re buying from some of the less expensive and more well-known tampon and sanitary towel brands, thus the less sustainable and ethical brands.
Using a menstrual cup means only making a one-time purchase for up to 10 years instead of making monthly purchases from brands you’d less than likely support if you were a fly on the wall behind-the-scenes.
6. YOU CAN’T EVEN FEEL IT
When a menstrual cup is inserted correctly, you can’t feel its presence in your vaginal canal. I am not being dramatic! YOU CANNOT FEEL IT!!!!
Yes, menstrual cups can take a little bit of time to navigate and get used to. But once you find the way to fold the cup upon insertion that works for you and where the cup sits inside of you comfortably, it will stay in place all day and I, myself have even been known to forget I’m bleeding as it goes so unnoticed!
7. THEY MAKE DAY 2 FEEL LIKE DAY 4
Gone are the interrupted days of frequent tampon changes or pad leaks.
I’m lucky enough to have a pretty regular menstrual flow in that my periods have never been tremendously heavy nor super light, but my heaviest days now equate with my lightest because my menstrual cup will faultlessly power through day 2 as if it were day 4.
8. YOUR VAGINA WILL THANK YOU FOR LESS CHEMICALS INSIDE OF IT
Tampons and sanitary towels have been found to contain a multitude of harmful chemicals.
They commonly contain parabens and pthathalates linked to hormone disruption, residual pesticides in non-organic options and other potentially hazardous ingredients such as bleach, odour neutralisers, fragrances, artificial colours, polyester adhesives amongst other chemicals you’d likely not want around your vagina.
Pimento menstrual cup (and most others) is made from 100% body safe medical grade silicone. And that’s all it’s made from. Yes, I can hear your vagina ~sighing~ in relief.
9. YOU CAN FINALLY STOP WORRYING ABOUT TSS (TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME)
If you grew up with an irrational fear of Toxic Shock Syndrome (a rare bacterial infection associated with tampon use), you’ll be very happy to know that while it’s not impossible to get TSS with the use of a menstrual cup, it is FAR less likely.
10. YOU CAN KEEP IT IN ALL DAY LONG
Tampons and pads are generally recommended to be changed every 4 to 6 hours, but can be left safely for around 8.
While menstrual cups are recommended to be emptied every 4-8 hours, they can be left in safely for up to 12 hours! Which means no more sleep anxiety, no more waking up in the middle of the night to change your tampon and no more worrying on your busier days that you’ll need to go to the bathroom several times!
11. YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO TAKE IT OUT WHEN YOU PEE OR POOP
Ever put a tampon in and then one hour later needed to pee? And then the tampon string gets wet and you have to change the WHOLE tampon just because you had an extra glass of water this morning. This doesn’t happen with cups! You can pee and poop til your hearts desire, and there will be no additional needs to empty.
12. YOU GET TO SEE HOW MUCH BLOOD (AND OTHER STUFF) YOU’RE ACTUALLY LOSING
The interesting thing about using a cup is truly being able to see how much blood you’re actually losing during your period.
Remember when your sex ed teacher told you it was 6-8 teaspoons worth? It’s time to find out.
Some may not want to look (you do you), but I think our menstrual cycles are fascinating and you can really get to know your body and what is normal for your individual cycle by looking at the contents of your menstrual cup.
13. THEY CAN HOLD SO. MUCH. BLOOD.
One Pimento menstrual cup holds about 3 tampons worth of blood. Three whole tampons.
14. YOU CAN NEVER RUN OUT
No more emergency trips to the supermarket for last-minute sanitary products with your undies lined in tissue roll because you weren’t stocked up on tampons. No more clueless boyfriends and brothers in aisle 3 texting you to figure out what sized vulva you have.
One cup is all you need for 10 years worth of periods. That saves (on average) 120 trips to the shop!
15. THEY’RE STERILE AND BODY SAFE
Tampons and pads made in a factory from porous materials, can never be 100% sterile.
I mentioned before that Pimento and most other menstrual cups are totally body safe and made from 100% medical-grade silicone, meaning you can sterilise your cup as frequently as you desire!
Simply pop in a pan of boiling water et voila! A sterile period cup to keep your vagina free of any nasty bacteria.
16. KISS GOODBYE TO WORRIES AND LEAKS
Before I started using a menstrual cup, I thought leaking would actually be worse in comparison to tampons and sanitary towels. I imagined entire cups of blood splattered all over my brand new jeans and horror movie worthy scenes in the bathrooms. OH HOW I WAS WRONG
I can’t scream loudly enough that menstrual cups have little to no leaks – even upon removal! I don’t know exactly how it works, but it works. The most I’ve ever had is a small and light leak on a very heavy day when I haven’t had the chance to empty, and a little blood on my thumb and finger upon removal (somewhat similar to a tampon).
Leaks were almost a daily occurrence back in my tampon days. I’ve never felt security quite like popping in my cup before a busy day on my feet, knowing I won’t see any blood until the next time I pop to the loo for emptying.
What are you waiting for?
There you have it. My own personal 16 reasons menstrual cups are better than tampons and pads.
If you’ve read through all that, and I still haven’t convinced you, well then you do you my fellow menstruator.
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