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Intimate Hygiene- Pads Vs. Tampons Vs. Menstrual Cups

Believe it or not, these are the kind of questions that scientists and doctors have actually researched. Given that the average woman uses about 10,000 sanitary products during her lifetime, it makes sense that researchers and women are giving serious consideration to their menstrual management methods.

Pros and Cons of Sanitary Pads


  1. No Painful Insertion:

    A lot of women do not like the idea of having anything ‘artificial’ going up their vaginas. Yes, even women who have had giant babies come out of them are a bit iffy with the idea of soaking up period blood from the inside. This is one main reason that pads are still ruling the sanitary hygiene market.

  2. No Staining:

    Well, if you wear your pad for like a day and a half or if you wear underwear that doesn’t hold it in place, you could expect some staining. But pads are meant to cover the crotch-area of your panty, keeping stains away. P{lus, they definitely absorb more and better than cloth pads of the same size and/or thickness.

  3. No TSS:

    Pads do not pose the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome as they do not absorb the lubrication from your vagina and allows for the natural flow of menstrual blood.Toxic Shock Syndrome is a bacterial Infection that can be caused if a tampon is left inside for too long, absorbing the natural lubricants that protect your vagina from infections.


  1. Bleach:

    Pads contain bleach which could lead to cancer. Of course, you don’t get cancer right away but if you are going to be using pads for 20-30 years, the low levels of chemical contaminants like dioxin could lead to cervical cancer or ovarian cancer down the line

  2. Risk of Infection:

    If not changed often, you could develop an infection.

  3. Rash:

    If you are physically active through the day, the constant chaffing between your legs could give you a pesky rash.

  4. Not Environment-friendly:

    Pads are not biodegradable and take about 500 years to fully decompose!

Did you know: The average woman uses approximately 10,000 sanitary pads during her lifetime! 

Pros and Cons of Tampons:


  1. No Blood Outside:

    If you are squeamish about blood, you’d appreciate that tampons soak up blood before it has the chance to come out of your vagina. This way you do not have to deal with period blood in your panties every time you need to pee or change.

  2. Discreet:

    Not like you should be ashamed of your period but tampons are so sleek and small that they can be carried around easily. Especially when you need to sneak past co-workers to change them. They can easily be put into your pocket.

  3. Comfort:

    Tampons once inserted, can hardly be felt, according to women who use them. You can easily go about your tasks, rest assured that little bullet shaped thing inside of you is soaking up all your menstrual blood. Just don’t forget about them completely!

  4. Lesser Period Days:

    A lot of women claim that using tampons reduces bleeding days. This is perhaps because it soaks up the blood as soon as it drains from the cervix. A liner is all you need on the 4th day.


  1. TSS:

    One of the biggest deal breakers of tampons is that they may lead to TSS. This is because they could potentially soak up your vagina’s natural lubrication, causing dryness or even UTI’S(Urinary Tract Infections).

  2. First-time Struggle:

    First-time tampon users may find it hard to insert them, even after squatting, lying down or lunging to find the right way to insert them. Some women also feel discomfort or pain during insertion.

  3. Peeing Struggle:

    While tampons are in your vagina and in no way should block your urethra, a full tampon may sometimes push against your vaginal wall, making your pee stream a little thinner. Not a real problem but it happens!

  4. Contains Bleach:

    Tampons, like pads, contain bleach which could be harmful. They also have layers of absorbent material that could shred and stick to the lining of the vaginal walls.

Menstrual Cups

Aren’t sure what a menstrual cup is? It’s a flexible cup designed for use inside the vagina during your period to collect menstrual blood. The cup actually collects the menstrual flow rather than absorbing it like tampons or pads do.

Most menstrual cups are made of silicone or rubber. I always remind my patients that if they’re latex-sensitive, they should make certain to purchase a cup made entirely of silicone.

You can use a cup all the way through your cycle, but you might need to change it more often on heavy flow days to guard against leaking. Remove and rinse your cup after 12 hours, or when leaking occurs.

Advantages of menstrual cups include:

  • Lower costs and less landfill waste. Some cups are designed for long-term use – even years – providing a significant cost savings over tampons and pads. Since you can reuse them, there’s less waste to clog up our landfills and fewer trees sacrificed to make the paper-based alternatives. Keep in mind that some cups are designed to be disposable. Make sure you read the box label carefully before buying if you want a reusable one.
  • Less embarrassing odor. You won’t have to worry about embarrassing menstrual odor wafting out at the most inopportune times, since the fluid doesn’t get exposed to air as it does with pads and tampons.
  • Vaginal pH and beneficial bacteria stay in place. Tampons absorb all your vaginal fluid along with the blood, which may disturb the delicate pH and bacterial balance in your vagina.
  • Fewer visits to the pharmacy. Even if you replace your cup once a year, you’ll still make 11 fewer trips to the pharmacy than you would if you used the disposable paper-based methods.
  • More time between changes. You need to change tampons every four to eight hours, depending on flow. You can go up to 12 hours with a menstrual cup before emptying.
  • Intercourse is possible with the cup in place. It’s possible to have intercourse while the cup is in your vagina. It’s really a personal choice whether you want to remove it first or not.
  • Easy to use. Anyone who has used tampons, especially the kind without applicators, should have little trouble learning how to insert a menstrual cup. If you’ve ever used a diaphragm for birth control, you’ll have even less trouble learning how to use your new cup. Simply fold it so it looks like a tampon, aim it toward the back of the vagina and give a little push. It should actually draw itself up. When inserted properly, you shouldn’t feel its presence at all.

Menstrual cup disadvantages include:

  • More mess. The main disadvantage that my patients note is that cup emptying can be messy. With practice, most women will work out a suitable technique and quickly get over the “ick factor.” Also, cleaning it in a public bathroom may cause embarrassment to some.
  • Difficulty of insertion for some. Younger girls and those who’ve never had intercourse may find it difficult to insert the cups. And, if you have an IUD in place, using a menstrual cup could pull the IUDstrings and dislodge it. Ask your OB/GYN or primary care physician about his or her preferences in these instances.
  • Possible fit problems. Sometimes individual anatomy can make proper use of the cup difficult. For instance, if you have fibroids or a dropped uterus, it may not fit in place properly.
  • Cup removal issues. Removing the cup can sometimes present more of a learning curve. You shouldn’t pull on the stem. Instead, pinch the base and pull. The collected fluid then empties into the toilet. Rinse under tap water and reinsert.
  • Maintenance. After each cycle, sterilize the cup using boiling water or a sterilizing solution used for baby bottles.

How to Choose a Menstrual Hygiene Product
There! Now you have everything in front of you, all you need to do is make the choice!Here are a few quick considerations that can help you make the decision:

  1. If you are going to indulge in any physical activity such as swimming or exercising, pads may not be the most comfortable choice. Consider using a tampon or a cup based on how comfortable you feel.
  2. If your flow is heavy, you may want to consider menstrual cups instead of using several pads as cups collect up to 30 ml of period blood.
  3. If you are travelling and will not be able to change easily, a tampon or a menstrual cup may serve you better than pads.
  4. If you are already suffering from an infection like vaginismus, inserting a cup or tampon may be difficult, or painful. In such a case, pads may be better.
  5. A lot of women  feel that menstrual cups are too expensive. However, if you consider that you will be using just one cup for 6-10 months, they are actually cheaper than pads or tampons. However, if you prefer spending your money in small bursts instead of a larger amount at once, pads and tampons may be your choice.


What To Do When Your Tampon or Menstrual Cup Gets Stuck

It would take a lot of force (and really long fingers!) to lodge a tampon or cup so deep in your vagina that it gets stuck and you cannot remove it! However, there are a lot of instances when a tampon or menstrual cup gets stuck:

  • When you wear and forget about it, a tampon or cup can gget stuck in you. This usually happens towards the end of your periods, when you don’t need to change it as often.
  • If the strong of the tampon gets lost or breaks, it can make it impossible to remove the tampon.
  • A cup can get stuck if it is not inserted properly. Usually as the cup fills up, gravity will work its magic and reposition the cup. But this may not always happen.
  • If you forget you are wearing a product and have sex, a tampon or cup can get stuck inside you. As unbelievable as that sounds, it is true and has happened to people!

Whichever be your case, here are a few tips to remove lodged menstruation products.

How to Remove Stuck Tampon

There is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of in a stuck tampon. First get that thing straight, because you being tense is actually going to worsen the situation. Then, follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands clean, and squat on the floor. If required, take a warm shower to calm yourself down.
  • Insert a finger to first locate the lost tampon string. Tug on it lightly, and try not to pull the tampon out in one swift motion.
  • If you cannot locate the string, try to insert your finger deeper and feel around for the tampon. Sometimes it gets lodged beyond your cervix (although this is very rare).
  • Once you locate the tampon, insert a second finger inside and try to grab the tampon. Wriggle it out of your vagina. Do NOT pull it out in one motion.
  • Sometimes a tampon may remain dry if you use it towards the end of your period, when your flow is low. such a tampon may be difficult to remove. Use a lube or petroleum jelly to help dislodge such a tampon.

If you feel uncomfortable inserting two fingers inside, you may have to try and extend your finger deeper, so you can touch the top of the tampon and just push it down.

In a worst case scenario, you might have to go to your gynaec or trusted physician.

NOTE: Never try to poke sharp object inside to remove your tampon, in your bid to avoid the embarassment of going to a doctor. Safety first, embarassment/shame/guilt later. Nothing is more precious than your health!

How to Remove a Stuck Menstrual Cup

For the novice, managing a menstrual cup can be a bit of a task. Especially since it involves a bit of physics. A menstrual cup basically holds in place on the principle of suction: if inserted correctly, a menstrual cup creates vaccuum in your birth canal, and that is what holds it in place. So essentially, the core step of removing the cup is to ‘break the seal’ – i.e. to break this vaccuum.

Break the seal by either squeezing the base or the rim of the cup. Then slowly wriggle the cup out. If you are unable to break the seal, try rotating the cup in place to ‘loosen’ it up from it’s lodged space.

Again – in case you are just unable to remove the cup, visit your gynaec or physician at the earliest. Never use any foreign objects to remove your cup.

Whatever you do choose, make sure that you wash your hands before and after changing to keep infections and illnesses away.

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Intimate Hygiene- Pads Vs. Tampons Vs. Menstrual Cups
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Intimate Hygiene- Pads Vs. Tampons Vs. Menstrual Cups
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