By Neelam Jain Last Updated:
Whenever a woman is reminded of her ‘that time of the month’, she literally goes through an emotional breakdown! Periods are a monthly process and since the dawn of time, women have been looking for ways and products to make it safer, easier, hygienic and non-messy. This, on the other hand, leads to another good debate as to which menstrual hygiene product is better to go for.
Recommended Read: 9 Home Remedies To Ease And Reduce Menstrual Cramps Or Period Pain
There are varied choices, likes and dislikes related to sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups available in the market. While few women would want to have the physical freedom with tampons, some would hate that messy feel that comes with the pad. So in toto, each and every woman wants to detox their period and be clean and free. And pertaining to this matter, let’s discuss the diverse products and their usage to understand as to which one is better to master the periods.
Shape and structure- It’s in a finger-sized menstrual hygiene product that goes inside woman’s cervix.
Usage- The super-absorbent tampon is small in size and soaks up all the blood during the menstruation and does not allow blood to drain back. It also absorbs the extra lubrication on the vaginal walls giving a dry and normal feel to a woman.
Tampons are like Godsend for the girls having an active lifestyle and those who gets annoyed at the drop of a hat. This is so because tampons make them forget about their periods completely. Tampons soak up the moisture near and under the vaginal walls, keep the bacterial infection at bay and give a feel of ‘nothing is there’. It keeps you comparatively clean to other menstrual measures and is highly recommended to those who have a problem controlling their periods. Undeniably, using tampons gives sporty girls, a physical freedom for activities like swimming, jumping, running etc. But one of the biggest flaws related to these super-absorbents is the disease named Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). As it soaks up even natural lubrication, there is a high risk of urinary tract infections and release of poisonous substances.
When and why to choose tampon- Tampons are like a magic wand to women, who indulges in physical activities and are looking for minimal fuss during their sessions.
The shape and structure- Sanitary napkins are long pads with fibres inside that converts the discharge into gel. Nowadays pads come with side wings to prevent staining on panty edges.
Usage- Pads stick to the underwear and later it can be thrown off after 3 to 4 hours. It absorbs the discharge and converts the liquid into a gel to give a dry feel.
Pads or sanitary napkins are the most common products to control blood discharge and are the most popular among women of all age groups. Pads are easier to use and stick with no cumbersome and painful insertion. It’s a completely no-mess management that makes your period-experience easy and comfortable. However, it offers lesser freedom of movement as compared to tampons and menstrual cups. Moreover, sanitary napkins take hundreds of years to biodegrade and release toxic gases posing a risk to environment.
A leading Mumbai gynaecologist once said in an interview:
"It is more popular than the other two options. The reason being it is easy to use - just stick it on your underwear and you are good to go. While the other two options require you to invade the boundaries of your vagina, (literally).”
When and why to choose sanitary pads- 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. If you are not home during your dates, using a sanitary napkin is the most recommended product especially for beginners. Also, if you dislike frustrating insertions, pads are the best bet.
Shape and structure- Made of non-toxic silicon material and is like a shape of diaphragm or an inverted glass.
Usage- It contains all the discharge which can be disposed of. It does not soak but merely collects the blood which is discharged out. The cup has a capacity to collect around 30-40 ml of blood at one go.
The menstrual cups are comparatively environment and user-friendly and are opted by a large number of women. The best thing about this product is that it saves you from infections and diseases unlike tampons and pads. Also the cup-shaped structures don’t involve the usage of chemicals and bleaches and fibres. So, the risk of infection in menstrual cups is lesser. You don’t have to change your cups frequently like pads as it collects a good quantity of blood in one time. Besides, you can wash and clean the cups for re-use. But some women find it unfit as it is difficult for insertion.
When and why to choose a menstrual cup- 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. If you are travelling and feel that you will not be able to change easily, a tampon or a menstrual cup may serve you better than pads.
#1. How should one choose between tampons, sanitary napkins and menstrual cups?
It depends upon the situation of the lady having her periods. If someone has to travel while in their periods, then a menstrual cup or a tampon would be suitable. Like we mentioned above, insertion for the first timers can be a little hassle. And if it is a regular day, then sanitary pads are the best. However, in case of napkins, one must ensure that the pad is changed after every 4 hours. If still in doubt, it is best to take an opinion from your gynaecologist.
#2. How does one clean a menstrual cup? How much time does a menstrual cup last?
A menstrual cup is reusable. Hence, it is all the way more important to ensure proper hygiene. When you are over with your month’s cycle, use a soap which is specifically meant for washing menstrual cups or, any unscented water based soap will also do. Mix soap and water (plenty of it), and immerse the cup in it for 10-15 minutes. Make sure that you attend to the vessel.
A menstrual cup can be used for upto a period of 5 years! Yes, you read that right. But if you find any wear and tear on any holes in teh cup, you know that it is time to replace it.
#3. What is the basic sanitation and hygiene that one needs to ensure while on their period?
A woman’s vagina is one of the most delicate features in their body. Hence, it is extremely essential to wash the hand before and after touching that area. Avoid using too much of menstrual hygiene soaps in that area while you are on your periods as vaginas have their own cleaning systems during periods. Make sure that you dispose of your sanitary wear properly.
We hope that with this article, you are clearer about each and every menstrual hygiene product that is in front of you. Based on hygiene, comfort and convenience, it’s upto you to decide which one to go for. Whatever your choice is, your health, comfort and safety should come. In case you are still unable to decide what is good for you, feel free to consult your gynaecologist or a trusted physician.