Menstrual Cups vs. Tampons
Both tampons and menstrual cups serve the same purpose. They’re designed to be worn inside the vaginal canal and collect menstrual fluid. However, they are very different in their properties and features.
Here’s a brief overview that will help you understand all about what these products are and how they are different from each other. Then we’ll help you figure out which one is best for you.
Common Terms you Need to Know
• Menstrual Cups
These are bell-shaped cups that are either made up of medical grade silicone (for example, the Lena Cup), rubber (the Keeper Cup), or thermoplastic polymer (Meluna Cup). They are designed to be worn inside the vaginal canal during menstruation to hold the menstrual fluid.
A tampon is made of an absorbent soft material – usually pressed cotton. They are inserted inside the vaginal canal to absorb the menstrual fluid. They cannot be reused and have to be disposed of after every usage.
Tampons do contain trace amounts of pesticides and other chemicals. This can be avoided by using organic tampons, although they are more expensive.
Menstrual Cups and Tampons – the Differences
Various features and facts mentioned here show how these products are different.
Menstrual Cups vs. Tampons: Toxins
Tampons have been in use for several years now. They are found to be very convenient during various activities. However, prolonged use of tampons is said to possibly cause toxic shock syndrome. There are thousands of reported cases of TSS from tampon usage. To date, there is only one such case with menstrual cups.
At times, the use of synthetic fibers or bleach in the tampons might cause irritation in the vaginal tissues. In fact, some studies have shown that almost every tampon has bleached rayon that generates dioxin, which is a suspected carcinogenic element.
If you have sensitive skin, or allergies, a menstrual cup might be a better choice than tampons. Try one out for a few cycles and see what you think. Our guess is that you’ll feel a whole lot better “down there.”
We hope that one day tampon manufacturers will be up-front about what’s in their products and people will be able to find out what they’re putting inside their bodies. Or, they’ll just start making products without these harmful compounds.
Tampons Cause Dryness
A menstrual cup is made of rubber or medical grade silicon and hence don’t contain BPA, latex, dye, toxin or bleaches that can adversely affect the vaginal tissues. However, one note of caution. It really is a case of buyer beware for menstrual cups. There are a bunch of cheap knock-offs out of China which are made from silicone that isn’t medical grade. Be sure to get a top-quality cup-check out this list of Top 5 Menstrual Cup Brands.
On the other hand, tampons can cause some serious cases of vaginal dryness. They work well at absorbing menstrual fluid, but they also suck up any and all other moisture that naturally belongs in your vaginal canal. This can cause things like yeast infections.
Menstrual Cups vs. Tampons: Protection Offered
Tampons offer eight hours of protection, in general, before the possibility of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) sets in. Menstrual cups give you up to twelve hours of protection before you need to empty them and reinsert.
Tampons normally absorb 6-8 ml of fluid, while a jumbo tampon has a capacity of around 10 ml. A menstrual cup is capable of holding approximately 30 ml of fluid. There are even some high-capacity cups that hold close to 40 ml.
A menstrual cup vs. a tampon makes life a whole lot easier for women with a heavier flow. Think about it like this: 3-4 times more capacity = 3-4 times less hassle! You might even possibly be able to sleep through the night, if you pair a menstrual cup with something like an overnight cloth pad.
Menstrual Cups: Greater Protection at Night
I’m sure a lot of people reading this article have been there-getting up at night to change your tampon, pajamas and bed sheets. However, with a menstrual cup, particularly a high-capacity one, you can avoid this hassle. You won’t have to fumble at night to replace your tampon as period cups are capable of holding a larger amount of fluid, thus giving you better protection. Pair it with a reusable cloth pad and you’ll be good to go!
Chance of Leakage and Other Dangers
A menstrual cup forms a suction seal, if properly inserted. It means that all your menstrual fluid gets stored into it directly, which decreases the chance of leakage. See: Menstrual Cup Insertion and Removal for more details.
However, there is a learning curve with using menstrual cups and most people don’t really get the hang of them until after a few cycles. Don’t give up because you will eventually get it.
With tampons, it’s pretty difficult to insert them incorrectly. The only time they really leak is if you don’t change them frequently enough.
Even More Reasons to Choose a Period Cup
Menstrual Cups and Endometriosis
Some people express concern about whether or not menstrual cups cause endometriosis. This risk is very minimal and there’s no conclusive evidence linking the two. See this article for more details: Menstrual Cups and Endometriosis.
Flexibility with Period Cups
Unlike tampons that are available in one-size-fits-all varieties without giving you much of a choice, period cups are available in various models and makes to suit people with light to moderate and heavier flows.
You can even get them in different makes and models to fit the body of teenagers, (who are yet to give birth) and those who have already given birth. There are high-capacity cups if you have a heavy period. There are low-cervix cups if you have a short vaginal canal. You can even get soft menstrual cups if you have a sensitive vaginal canal.
Period cups are often available in two sizes – smaller and bigger. Smaller ones are recommended for people who have not given childbirth while the bigger ones are recommended for use after childbirth.
There are even low cervix menstrual cups such as the FemmyCycle Menstrual Cup.
Menstrual Cups vs. Tampons: Environmental Considerations
Tampons give rise to two major issues with respect to the environment – the impact created by their production and their disposal. On average, a person is likely to use more than 11,000 sanitary pads or tampons in a lifetime, all of which will end up in the sea or in landfill.
Also, the toxins and chemicals used in the production of tampons has an adverse effect on the environment. By opting for reusable period cups, you can play your part in conserving the environment. Compare 3-4 menstrual cups (need to be replaced every 10 years or so) to 11,000 tampons. The difference is considerable!
Costs-Menstrual Cups vs. Tampons
A menstrual cup costs around $30, while a box of tampons costs around $5. Most people spend $5-10 a month on disposable pads or tampons. This can add up to thousands of dollars over a lifetime.
That you’ll need to buy just one period cup and it last for years makes it cost-effective as compared to its traditional counterparts.
See: Are Menstrual Cups Expensive? for more details.
Need Help in Choosing the Menstrual Cup for You?
Choosing your first menstrual cup can be a bit overwhelming. There are a ton of choices over on Amazon, in a huge ranges of colours, sizes and styles, from $5-40. Don’t worry about it. We’ll help you out. Start with this resource: The Top 10 Period Cup Brands: Reviews, comparisons and advice you can trust.
Menstrual Cup vs. Tampons: Have your Say
Weigh in on the menstrual cup vs. tampons debate. Which one do you use and why? Please leave a comment below and let us know.