Tampons, Pads, or Menstrual Cups

April 30, 2022

Have you been considering trading in tampons or pads for a menstrual cup?  Many of us are trying to find eco-friendly alternatives to products we use regularly.  But are menstrual cups right for you?

Menstrual Cup

A menstrual cup is a flexible device to be worn inside the vagina during menstruation.  

  • Typically they are made of silicone or rubber
  • There are two types: vaginal and cervical
  • They are an over-the-counter alternative to pads and tampons

The vaginal cup is placed in the vagina. The cervical cup is placed around the cervix, high in the vagina.  If you choose to use a reusable menstrual cup, you empty the cup when it is full, wash it and then place it back in your vagina.  Generally, the devices can last up to 10 years.  If you choose the disposable menstrual cup, you discard it after use.

Menstrual cups generally need to be emptied every four to twelve hours – depending on how heavy or light your menstrual flow is. The research suggests that leakage from a menstrual cup is similar to or less than that from using pads and tampons.

The most comparable menstrual product is the tampon, as it is also inserted into the vagina. The main differences in use between the two are:

  • tampons absorb menstrual fluid whereas menstrual cups collect it
  • tampons hold about half the volume of menstrual fluid compared with cups, and therefore need to be changed more frequently.

Safety Issues & Side Effects

There appears to be no significant increase in infection rates among menstrual cup users compared with other products in a range of studies across several countries.

Toxic shock syndrome, once associated with super-absorbent tampon use, was reported in five people, though only one of these was confirmed (where the cup had been in place for 18 hours).

For the most part, it will come down to your personal preference. Studies have shown 11% discontinued use, while 73% of participants across 15 studies with relevant data wanted to continue to use it.  If you still feel unsure about trying them, be sure to ask your healthcare provider. Here at OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we help women through every stage of life.