Pads, Tampons Or Menstrual Cups – Which One Should You Use?

There was a time, not that long ago, when women only had one option to manage their periods – a cloth. But thankfully, the world has evolved and today, many of us have a number of products at our disposal. Pads, tampons and menstrual cups are all equally popular among women of all ages. But with so many options to choose from, picking the right one can be a struggle, as they all have their fair share of pros and cons. If you’re confused about which product is best for you or are planning to make a switch, here’s a breakdown on all the different period products so you can make an informed decision!

Sanitary Pads

Sanitary pads are by far the most popular period products in Pakistan. Aimed at absorbing menstrual fluid, pads are available in all different lengths and absorbency levels.

Pros

1. Easy To Use

The main reason pads reign over all period products is because of how easy they are to use. They simply stick to the inside of your underwear and don’t involve any uncomfortable insertion. This is what makes pads the perfect and most recommended product for first timers.

2. Fewer Health Risks

Since pads are an external product, they have fewer health risks. They don’t cause any micro tears on your vaginal cavity (which dry tampons can) and there’s no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which is a very rare but life-threatening condition.

3. Less Chances Of Staining

Unless you’re wearing them wrong or for too long, the chances of staining your clothes when wearing a pad are very low. Pads are extremely absorbent and if you get the right length, they’ll cover a majority of your underwear, which leaves little or no space for leakage.

Cons

1. Don’t Hold Much

While pads come with different absorbency levels, they still do not hold as much flow as a tampon or menstrual cup. Women with heavy flows often have to change their pads every two hours, which can be quite cumbersome. And since pads aren’t the cheapest option, it can really rack up!

2. Non-Eco-Friendly

Since pads contain chemicals and are non-biodegradable, they are a threat to the environment. A disposable sanitary pad takes around 500–800 years to decompose. And on reaching the soil, the chemicals in pads cause groundwater pollution and loss of soil fertility.

3. Not Suitable For Certain Activities

The biggest drawback of pads is that it hinders some of your activities, especially swimming. It also requires you to be more careful while doing physical activities such as exercising, because too much movement can shift the pad and may result in leakage.

Tampons

Tampons are the second most popular period product and have started gaining considerable popularity amongst young women in Pakistan. They are made of a soft, absorbent material and, like pads, are available in different sizes and absorbency levels.

Pros

1. Comfortable

Tampons are quite comfortable; if inserted correctly, you’ll hardly feel them. They’re so comfortable that you can go about your day and indulge in strenuous activities, like swimming and working out, with complete ease. There’ll be no leakage or uncomfortable feeling.

2. More Hygienic

When it comes to hygiene, tampons are much better than pads. With tampons, the menstrual blood doesn’t come in contact with the skin at all. This lowers the risk of bacteria and keeps the mess at bay.

3. Last Long

Tampons can last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, which means you don’t have to constantly change them. They’re also great for women with heavy flow, as they’re much more absorbent. Just make sure to change them after 8 hours – any longer can cause infections.

Cons

1. Tricky To Insert

One of the biggest reasons many women steer clear of tampons is because they’re quite tricky to insert, especially the first few times. It can be intimidating and if done wrongs, it’ll feel uncomfortable. Having said that, all tampons come with instructions and many modern tampons comes with applicators, which makes the process easier.

2. Risk Of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Tampons are widely associated with TSS, which is why many women stay away from them. Highly absorbent tampons accumulate a lot of blood, which can be a medium for bacteria to grow. However, many modern tampons don’t use materials that will cause TSS and it’s very a rare occurrence. To stay on the safe side, it’s better to opt for a lower absorbency tampon, depending on your flow.

3. Variety of Sizes

Having a variety of sizes is great since you can find the one that fits you perfectly. But the process of finding the right size can be tricky to say the least. If the tampon is too small, it can get flooded and be pushed out; if it’s too big, it’ll be too dry to take out, which is not recommended.

Menstrual Cups

Although menstrual cups aren’t a new invention, only recently have they become so common. Shaped like a bell, they’re made of rubber or silicone. Unlike pads and tampons, menstrual cups don’t absorb blood but collect it instead

Pros

1. Eco-Friendly

Menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone, rubber or latex, which means they can be reused for up to 10 years. They also don’t include any harsh chemicals and don’t contribute to landfills, making them to most eco-friendly option out there.

2. Long-Term Investment

Since menstrual cups last a decade and are a one-time purchase, they are a very cost-effective option. With pads and tampons, you have to refill and stock up on them every few weeks. While menstrual cups maybe a bit pricier than a pack of pads, it’s a long-term investment that is definitely worth making.

3. Can Be Worn For Longer

Changing your pad or tampon every few hours is a pain! And while tampons do last longer than pads, menstrual cups trump tampons in this department. Depending on your flow, you can go up to 12 hours with a menstrual cup before emptying it out.

Cons

1. Difficult To Insert And Remove

The biggest drawback of a menstrual cup is their insertion and removal. Menstrual cups need to be inserted very carefully, by folding them, or it can be quite uncomfortable. Similarly, removing them also requires some practice, as you have to fish them out and this can take some getting used to. It’s definitely not an easy feat for beginners.

2. It Can Get Messy

While tampons have an applicator for insertion and a string for removal, a menstrual cup just requires your fingers. And since there’s a lot of blood involved, using a menstrual cup can get messy. You also have to empty the blood out and wash it thoroughly before re-inserting, which puts a lot of women off.

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