Tampon, Pad, Undies Or Cup? The Pros And Cons Of Female Sanitary Products
For better or for worse, periods are one thing you just can’t avoid as a womxn. Yes, they can be inconvenient and sometimes uncomfortable, but luckily, we also have more choices than ever before when it comes to female sanitary products.
In the old days, womxn had to use rags or strips of cloth in their bloomers to cope with periods—seriously hard to imagine, and also not super hygienic. However, now we have the choice of tons of products—not just pads and tampons, but even cool things like menstrual cups, period underwear, and birth control that can be used to control how and when we menstruate.
So what’s the 411 on each type of period product? Here’s our guide to the pros and cons of each option to help you find the perfect choice for your body.
What are the different types of menstrual products?
Which is better: pad or tampon or menstrual cup? How do I decide which is right for me? We know period stuff can be awkward to talk to your friends or parents about, so we’re here to help!
Many babes tend to use pads when they first get their period. These absorbent inserts fasten onto your undies with adhesive and come in a wide range of sizes and thicknesses. They’re easy to use as there’s no insertion involved, plus you can sleep in them or leave them in place all day. If you’re concerned about sustainability, know that you can find reusable pads that are washable.
Of course, pads aren’t perfect either. You can’t swim with them and some womxn find them uncomfortable to wear when playing sports. Plus, they don’t stay in place very well with thongs, if that’s your vibe.
Tampons are another super popular option—once inserted, you can go about your day and forget that they're even there! They’re ideal for swimming, going to the beach, or being active, and they’re completely invisible to the naked eye, so no need to worry about the dreaded VPL.
However, because tampons need to be inserted into the body, they can be tricky to figure out at first. As with pads, there are also the environmental considerations—many tampons come with plastic applicators that end up in landfills. You can find tampons without applicators, but they do take a bit more practice to insert.
You’ll also want to change tampons every 4-6 hours. This is because you might notice a slight odor after a while, but also because there’s a small risk of TSS, or Toxic Shock Syndrome. Don’t panic, though, as this is super rare and can be avoided by changing tampons regularly and washing your hands frequently.
3. Menstrual cups
Menstrual cups are becoming more and more popular. Although these nifty devices have been around for years, new silicone materials mean that they’re much more comfortable than they used to be.
These small, bell-shaped products fit into your vagina, creating a seal and collecting menstrual blood—they’ll stay in place until removed. They’re reusable and can stay in place for around 12 hours, which is pretty awesome.
That being said, becoming an expert with these bad boys takes some time, as they can be fiddly to insert, remove, and wash, especially in public bathrooms. Oh, and you need to be okay with handling blood—even though it’s a totally normal and healthy part of life, we get how some womxn would rather not spend time washing out cups and dealing with the messier aspects of periods.
4. Period undies
Another up and coming contender on the period scene is period undies. They look and feel like normal underwear, but contain special padding and materials to absorb your flow. Although you might feel nervous trying them out at first, they’re super effective, even on heavy days. They’re also comfortable to wear and even stylish. You don’t need to use them with a pad or tampon, although you totally can if you want to.
These reusable undies are great for the environment, but they’ll need to be washed right after wearing and can take around a day to fully dry. Because you’ll need multiple pairs, they’re also one of the more expensive options.
What else should I keep at home for that time of the month?
We know some gals can really struggle with their periods, especially with cramps, bloating, headaches, and pain. If you tend to suffer, it can help to keep a heating pad or hot water bottle in the bathroom cabinet, as heat can ease the pain of cramps.
Over-the-counter pills like Tylenol or Aspirin can also be a big help. Of course, there’s always chocolate too—absolutely nothing wrong with turning to a sweet treat when you’re feeling blah, especially while you chill in your fave loungewear.
Oh, and it’s true what they say—if you’re feeling up to it, orgasms can definitely help ease period pains!
So, which period product is best?
With so many must-have period products, how can you decide which one is right for you? They’re all effective at what they do, so it all comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. For example, eco-conscious babes might love the menstrual cup, since it’s reusable, while active womxn might love the convenience and ease of tampons.
It’s good to experiment with various options, working out what works best for you. You can also go back and forth between different options, depending on how you’re feeling. Or, if you’re super unsure about what works for you, or you have some concerns about each option, you can always ask your trusted doctor or gynecologist for some suggestions.
Once you discover which sanitary products you’re lovin’ the most, it’ll be easier to deal with your time of the month quickly and go about your life!