The Great Debate...
Ask 10 women this question and the answer will never be the same; we all have different experiences and biases. The simple truth is that the 'best' menstrual product is the one that works for you.
Of the three products, pads are the least invasive form of sanitary protection. They come in different lengths and absorbencies, making it easy to adjust the level of protection needed as our flows transition between light, heavy and tidal wave. Even when using tampons or menstrual cups, some women still rely on pads to catch any sneaky leaks.
Yet, surprisingly enough tampons are the preferred choice for women under 40. This could have something to do with the fact that pads are mostly plastic. They can be bulky, hot and uncomfortable, especially in hot weather. Pads are also the least versatile when it comes to certain sporting activities. If they leak when you sit or sleep in the wrong position, they may not be your best go-to protection when it's time to exercise.
Being the most popular choice is not surprising. Tampon ads are great at promoting the potential freedom we can have when we're not curled up in a ball of pain. Ever noticed how the women in these ads are always smiling and happily running through a field of flowers while dressed in white ,':-I
Like pads, tampons come in different sizes, shapes and absorbancies. Unlike pads, you have to pay more attention to choosing the right absorbency to match your flow.
Too little absorbency means frequent changes will be needed to avoid leaks. While too much absorbency increases the risk of the rare but fatal Toxic Shock Syndrome. If the tampon is not saturated enough with your blood, upon removal fibres can be left behind in the vaginal canal. This provides the perfect breeding ground for the staph bacteria responsible for TSS.
These silicone cups may not be as widely used, but menstrual cups have been around almost as long as tampons. Cups combine the versatility of tampons with the added hours of protection provided by pads. Most cups are made from medical grade silicone, and can be safely worn for up to 12 hours at a time. Due to the absence of chemicals and fibers, there have been no reported cases of TSS.
So why isn't every woman a cup convert? It may have something to do with the level of hands on skill that must be developed. Of the three, this is the most invasive option. You must be willing to embark on an exploration mission with your anatomy.
It can take a few cycles, before fully grasping the technique of inserting and removing a cup. And unlike pads or tampons, you actually have to clean your menstrual blood.
So Which Do I Prefer?
I started out as a pad user, but have recently made the switch to menstrual cups. Has it been easy... No. Has it been worth it for me... Yes.
I think a woman has to experience a special kind of frustration before menstrual cups begin to make a blip on her radar.
What is your menstrual product of choice and why?