Like many women, you’ve probably grown up using pads and tampons when you have your period. There’s nothing wrong with this, especially if you’re happy with the brand you use and get the best possible protection and comfort from it.
However, you have to realize that these menstrual products are not the only options available. If you’re willing to try something new, you can go for menstrual cups.
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These products are made of flexible materials like rubber or silicone and are placed inside the vagina to collect menstrual fluids (instead of absorbing them like pads and tampons do).
Ideally, you can remove the cup after 12 hours, but you might need to take it out more often on days when you’re experiencing heavy flow. You’ll need to wash your hands before removal and after insertion and rinse the cup thoroughly with clean water before reinserting it.
“But can a menstrual cup really replace my pads and tampons?” you might wonder. The answer is yes, it can! If you’re willing to give it a try, you’ll find that menstrual cups are much better than other products because they have the following advantages:
Menstrual cups cost around $30. It can seem expensive at first glance, but when you do the calculations, you’ll see that it’s actually cheaper in the long run. Most cups can be used for about a year, so you’ll spend only $30 on menstrual products for the next 12 months.
Pads and tampons, on the other hand, can range from six cents to more than $1 per piece (or around $120 per year, as women’s blog Jezebel points out), depending on their absorbency and whether you buy in bulk or not. Compare these prices with each other, and you’ll see that menstrual cups are the more cost-efficient option.
They can be used for a longer time
Tampons should only be used up to 8 hours; wear them longer than that, and you’ll run the risk of developing toxic shock syndrome, which can be highly fatal. This means you can’t wear them to bed, especially if you’re planning to get 8 hours of sleep or more.
Pads can be worn for any length of time, but ideally they should be changed every three to four hours to prevent odors from forming.
Menstrual cups, on the other hand, can be worn 12 hours straight. This means you can wear them to bed without having to wake up in the middle of the night to change them.
You can also wear them when you go hiking or camping, when you take long bus rides, or when you visit a place where you’re not sure if there will be a bathroom you can use. (Of course, when you have heavy periods, you’ll need to empty your menstrual cup more often to prevent leaking.)
They don’t contain harmful chemicals
Most pads and tampons contain chlorine and rayon as well as various dyes and fragrances. These can cause irritation, particularly in those that have sensitive skin. But, even if your skin isn’t that sensitive, you’ll still have to be careful about these chemicals.
Remember: you’re essentially exposing yourself to them several days each month, and the trace amounts you get from each exposure can build up in your body over time.
To avoid these substances, you can switch to organic pads and tampons, which are more expensive than regular products. Or you can use menstrual cups, which don’t contain any additives. With cups, the only thing you should be careful of is latex, but it can be easily solved.
If you have a latex allergy, simply buy a menstrual cup that’s made of 100 percent silicone instead of rubber, and you’re good to go!
They can help reduce odors
When your period blood comes in contact with your natural discharges, it can alter the chemistry of your vagina and cause strange odors to develop. It can even create an environment that’s ideal for yeast and bacterial infections, which can pave the way to funkier smells.
This is where menstrual cups can help: since they keep your period blood from flowing freely through your vagina, they can help you smell fresh for longer.
These are just some of the advantages that menstrual cups bring. Give them a try and see how they can help you manage your period in a better way.