What’s Good for You: Menstrual Cups, Tampons or Pads?

Menstrual cups are now gaining increased popularity, especially in developed countries mostly because of their reusable nature. Cups tampons and pads are used by women to collect or absorb the tissue and blood that come out of their vagina during menstruation. But the question that most are asking is whether these cups are as safe as pads and tampons.

About one-quarter of the global population goes through menstruation. This translates to more than 1.9 billion people in the world, bleeding for about 65 days per year. Both cups and tampons were developed during the 1930s, but tampons have experienced increased usage, partly because of increased marketing.

The increased concern about the environmental effects of disposable sanitary pads and tampons, as well as the need to provide more options for feminine hygiene in the middle and low-income nations, has led to the resurgence of menstrual cups.

What are Menstrual Cups

These are reusable devices designed for collecting menstrual fluid. The majority of these devices are bell-shaped and made to sit low in the vagina.

Some cups have a flatter, disc shape and are designed to sit up against the cervix. Cups can be compared closely to tampons because they are both inserted into the vagina. The main differences between cups and tampons is that:

  • Cups collects menstrual fluid while tampons absorb the fluid
  • Tampons are disposable (although you can find reusable ones)
  • Tampons can hold a larger volume of menstrual fluid than cups, therefore they will need to change cups more.

Menstrual cups are made from latex rubber and silicone and can hold up to 10-38ml fluid. The cup should be emptied every 4-12 hours, depending on the nature of your menstrual flow.

You can use one cup for up to 10 years.

The level of leakage Between Products

Lancet Study authors researched on the availability and cost of feminine hygiene cups. The research found that there are more than 199 brands of cups and are available in 99 countries.

Lancet’s study analyzed findings from 43 research studies that involved 3,319 persons, with studies varying in design, purpose, and quality. Four studies researched on how leakage compared between pads, tampons, and cups, and found it was similar or lower in cups.

Side Effects and Safety

According to the study, there was no rise in the rate of infection among cup users compared to those who used pads and tampons in several countries.

Toxic shock syndrome, which is reportedly associated with tampons, was reported in only five people. However, it was only one of these cases that were due to the usage of cups for 18 hours.

One case study compared toxic shock between pad and cup users among schoolgirls in rural parts of Kenya and found no cases of this syndrome in either group.

Tampons Come in Three Absorbency Levels

Tampons come in various levels of absorbencies – light, regular, and super. For health services, it is advisable to use a tampon with the lightest absorbency levels that last for a short time. Some tampons are offered with applicants – a small stick made from plastic or cardboard that helps put the tampon in the vagina. Others, however, will not come with an applicator and so you will have to use your finger to put it in your vagina.

Tampons Do Not Hurt

Wearing tampons should not cause pain. However, it is possible to feel pain if you are nervous because, at that point, your muscles will be tightened. To avoid this, take a big breath and relax. When using a tampon for the first time, find a plastic applicator because it allows for smooth and comfortable insertion.

If you continue feeling uncomfortable when inserting, it may be because you have not inserted your tampon far enough. You should remove it and put another one. 

All Female Hygiene Methods Are Safe

Menstrual cups, pads, and tampons are safe to use when all directions for usage are followed. There are no major safety issues reported when using sanitary pads. However, some have reported cases of rashes, which can be attributed to staying with pads for longer hours. Apart from these, they are safe to use.

When it comes to tampons, many are concerned about the materials used to manufacture tampons. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been providing useful information about the safety of medical devices manufactured and sold, including tampons. Generally, tampons are safe when used according to instructions. 

Women who prefer using cups during menstruation should rest assured that they are safe. These products are cost-effective and environmentally friendly as compared to pads and tampons. They are reliable and offer the same protection as the other products of female hygiene.

However, some new users have reported cases of discomfort and pain while inserting or removing their cup. It should be known that it will some time to get used to menstrual cups.

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