The benefits of a menstrual cup vs tampons

It’s true that menstruation is a very personal thing, and people who menstruate are all individuals. We’re still going to politely bug you about the benefits of menstrual cups though! Menstrual cups such as the Mooncup are so good on so many levels, from saving money to saving the planet, that it’s worth considering making the switch. 

First of all though, why would you give up tampons? They’re safe, discreet and easy to use. They’re not perfect, as anyone with a heavy flow will tell you, but we’re so used to them that it can be hard to think about an alternative. 

Menstrual cups can be a bit intimidating though! We’re so used to the idea of our period being instantly soaked up by a pad or tampon, that the idea of it, well, sloshing around in a cup can be a bit intimidating.

Should everyone give up tampons and use cups right now?

It’s up to you! We’re just making the case for cups because as a fertility media company, we spend a lot of time thinking about menstrual cycles and reproductive systems. Just because a lot of people have the same reproductive organs, that doesn’t mean they’re an homogenous mass. People with wombs are not the Borg! 

We’re aware that some trans and gender none-conforming people prefer not to be reminded of their cycle, or feel more comfortable using disposable products for safety reasons, and find that tampons can really help with that. Some dancers and performers wouldn’t feel all that comfortable onstage with a cup at first. So you do you – we’re just asking you to keep an open mind – and to understand a little bit about why the period product market is suddenly changing so drastically.

OK I understand the environment angle, but any solid benefits for me?

Menstrual cups can hold more than standard tampons – some up to three times the amount that a tampon can hold. If you have heavy periods then you may find them more practical.

They will save you money. The charity Bloody Good Period estimates that having periods can cost around £4800 over your whole life. A menstrual cup can cost as little as £5, and can last for several years. 

You can leave it in for longer. Menstrual cups can be safely left in for 12 hours, while tampons need to be changed every four to eight hours.

What’s the problem with tampons?

We have a lot of respect for tampons! Until tampons were invented, you had no choice but to spend your entire period with a big, puffy pad in your pants. They stuck out of your knickers, showed when you wore tight clothes, moved around, fell out and required an enormous pair of un-glamorous, pensioner-grade panties to get them to stay put. 

Tampons allowed us to forget about our periods and go about our lives. They were liberating. Your first tampon was a sign that you were a woman. We love tampons. Unfortunately though, time marches on and we have to find different and less environmentally-unfriendly ways of dealing with menstruation. 

Are tampons harmful or dangerous?

If you use them correctly then no. There are some rumours that tampons contain bleaches and toxic chemicals – but they don’t. Tampons are tightly regulated, and they are actually very safe to use. The medical issues with tampons arise when they are left in too long or contaminated during storage or use, because they can cause toxic shock syndrome

Why are menstrual cups better than tampons then?

The real trouble with tampons is that they are so bad for the environment. If you think about how many tampons you use over a year, and how much packaging they come in – then it’s easy to imagine how much waste is being created by this one product. 

There’s another, more subtle issue with tampons too. They were created to solve the issue of people knowing that you might be on your period. Tampons were invented in 1933, and they solved the problem of people knowing that you are on your period, which made them a big hit with women who just wanted to get on with their lives. It was considered shameful and embarrassing for anyone to guess that you might be menstruating – even though this happens once a month to millions of women all over the world!

Tampons were a brilliant product for this particular issue, and they have been extremely popular ever since. However, times have thankfully changed. It is no longer acceptable to shame people for having periods, or to expect them to feel embarrassed about it. While we’re not quite “free bleeding” all over the place, we are definitely more mature as a society about periods now. 

This means that we don’t need to pretend that periods are a super-secret and shameful “curse” that falls upon us once a month. We don’t “need” tampons to feel professional, clean or acceptable, when we’re at work or the gym, or any other place where we need to focus on what we’re doing – not whether people are judging us. 

Menstrual cups to the rescue! How this change of mindset affects period products

The fact that we’re able to admit that lots of us menstruate, and lots of us need a certain amount of knicker-protection for a week or so every month means that we’re able to chill out about the actual blood part too. It’s not the end of the world to see, smell or touch your own menstrual blood – even if these idiots with their silly tampon glove thingy are too childish to handle it. 

These guys got a lot of flak on the Internet for their silly idea, because it’s so out of date. No one is scared of their own period blood these days! While you might not be thrilled to have your period, particularly if you have endometriosis or you are gender non-conforming, you’re not expected to feel ashamed of it. This change in how menstruation is viewed and talked about in the media, plus the focus on ending single-use product culture, has enabled reusable period products to finally be accepted.

Reusable products are the future

Menstrual products no longer have to help society to pretend that periods don’t exist. Tampons were amazingly convenient – discreetly tiny, hidden away in your body and then flushed away down the loo in private. But we don’t need to protect men and children from the concept of our scary menstrual blood anymore!

Because we’re less freaked out by women’s bodily fluids these days, it’s not considered as disgusting or taboo to have a reusable product. The fabled “rag” was washed and dried in secret, and disposable products freed women and girls from the shame and burden of having to wash, dry and hide our period clothes and pants. This is still the reality for millions of women and girls worldwide, and if that seems unfair to you then you can get involved in supporting charities that support women and girls in period poverty

Guess what though – when you get rid of the shame, you also get rid of all the ridiculous things you need to do, to prevent people from realising that you – an adult human with a functioning reproductive system, is prone to monthly menstruation! Hurray, and about time too.

Reusable period products that compliment menstrual cups

Reusable products include washable pads, period pants and menstrual cups. All of these products are designed to collect menstrual fluids and then be sanitised for re-use. This saves thousands upon thousands of tampons being flushed down the loo or ending up in landfill sites. 

All reusable period products are great! We’re fans of all of them. However, menstrual cups just take a little more adjustment than pads or pants, because they’re unfamiliar. They’re a different shape to tampons, and they don’t have that reassuring “absorbency” so popular with tampon and pad adverts. 

If you are tempted to switch out your tampons for a cup, or just explore reusable period products to see what suits you, then you can mix and match with all reusable products. Period pants and reusable pads are a great backup for your first forays into cup-wearing, or when your flow is particularly heavy. 

Have you switched to reusable period products? We’d love to hear what you think! Please leave us a comment below!