Have you taken a good look at your feminine care? Menstrual cups are superior to tampons for so many reasons. Sure, tampons work well enough at preventing leaks during your period. But, there are also a number of reasons why you might consider ditching them for a menstrual cup. Reasons include the waste they create, how much they cost, as well as health considerations. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like our tampon brand investigation, how thousands of doctors are saying chemicals are partially to blame for the obesity epidemic, which MLMs are the safest, now join us as we cover the 5 reasons why you should switch from tampons to menstrual cups during your period.
Disclosure: Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth who hopes that a reusable period product will one day be found in the hands of every single menstruating person in the world. She’s the author of the book, “The Ultimate Guide to Menstrual Cups.” This post contains affiliate links.
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Menstrual Cups Lessens Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
Some of the leading brands of pads and tampons contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals in them. They mostly come from the pesticides used on the cotton, but also from the manufacturing process (bleaching, in particular, is quite toxic). Part of the problem is that in many countries, companies aren’t required to disclose what’s in these products. For example, in the USA, pads and tampon are classified as medical devices by the FDA, which is how they get around not sharing this information. The other part of the problem is that these products have harmful things in them in the first place! The good news is that there is a better solution: menstrual cups. As long as you stick with a top-quality one (I’ll give more information about that at the end of this article), you’ll have a much safer period experience, free of toxic chemicals.
Menstrual Cups Can Help You Save Money
The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. Those 11,000 tampons? They can add up to around $2200 USD during a lifetime. Over on Amazon USA, you can buy a bulk pack of tampons that works out to about $0.20 per tampon. That’s about the cheapest you can find them—they’re significantly more expensive if you buy them at your local drugstore for example. Compare this to a menstrual cup that costs around $30 USD. If you use eight of them over your 40 or so menstruating years, that works out to $240. Or, almost 10x cheaper than tampons. Start early for maximum benefits. Not bad, right? After all, who doesn’t like to have more money in the bank at the end of the month!
And, in a world where young people are missing school because they can’t afford period products, something like a menstrual cup can really make a huge difference. Even in a well-off country like Canada, 1 in 7 girls are missing school because they lack period products. The numbers are far higher in underdeveloped countries. Consider opting for a menstrual cup that has a buy-one-give-one kind of program for maximum impact. The ones that I know of include the Daisycup, Ruby Cup, and the Pixie Cup.
Menstrual Cups Lessen the Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome
Let’s talk TSS. It’s a serious, sometimes deadly disease that is thankfully quite rare. However, many of the cases that do occur, occur because of using tampons. That said, when you consider how many people use tampons around the world, the risk is not high, especially if you take the basic precaution of changing your tampon frequently enough.
What about menstrual cups? In theory, the risk of TSS is there, but to date, only one person has ever gotten Toxic Shock Syndrome from a menstrual cup.You may have seen the recent hype about how menstrual cups have a high risk of TSS? It was based on one study, done in a lab and not on people so it’s probably not something to really worry about. Just be sure to empty and clean your cup frequently enough. Even though fewer people use menstrual cups, it does appear that the risk is lower than with tampons.
Menstrual Cups Help The Environment
Estimates vary from 10,000-20,000, but it’s thought that the average person uses at least 11,000 tampons during a lifetime. This can be considerably more if you have a heavy, long or irregular period. If you menstruate for 40 years (from ages 10-50), and have 13 periods in a year, that ends up being a ridiculous amount of tampons!
The worst environmental offenders are the tampons that come with plastic applicators. However, even the ones without applicators come wrapped in little bits of plastic that’ll take centuries (500-800 years to be exact) to degrade in the landfill. Compare this to a menstrual cup. While some companies like the Diva Cup recommend replacing it every year or two, most people find that a high-quality one can last for 5-10 years. Just be sure to buy one that’s made from medical grade silicone, and not some lower-quality material. This means a handful of menstrual cups over a lifetime compared to thousands of tampons. Try holding those 11,000 tampons in two hands and see how it goes.
There’s also more good news about menstrual cups. You can often recycle them when they do wear out. Check with your local municipality to see if they accept silicone products. Or, check in with your local sex toy shop and they may accept it. It really does make a big difference for our Earth when you make the switch from tampons to a period cup. Imagine the possibilities if every single menstruating person in the world was using a reusable period product instead of a disposable one?
Menstrual Cups are just so Much Better
The final reason why you might consider ditching tampons is that menstrual cups are just so much better. They are eco-friendly, cheaper over the medium to long-term, and better for our health. But, what about convenience? Although you do have to wash menstrual cups (as opposed to tampons which you throw into the trash), most people find that this isn’t really a big deal. You just have to wash your cup with a mild soap or menstrual cup wash every time you take it out. Then, you can boil your cup in a pot of water on the stove for five minutes at the end of your cycle. It takes just a few minutes and most people find that it’s worth it.
Where the convenience thing really comes through is if you have a very heavy period. The average cup has a capacity of 30 ml, while a jumbo tampon only holds 10 ml or so. 3x more capacity means that you might actually be able to sleep through the night of your heaviest flow. There are even high capacity menstrual cups with room for 40 ml or more. Pair up one of these with an overnight pad (I use a cloth one) and even when you have a heavy flow, you’ll be able to sleep peacefully without waking up to that soggy, squishy feeling!
Which Menstrual Cup to Choose?
If you search on Amazon for “menstrual cups,” you’ll notice that there are more than 100 of them. And then each brand has different styles and sizes. It can be a bit overwhelming trying to decide which one will work best for you. That’s why I recommend taking a menstrual cup quiz. There are a few simple questions that’ll help you narrow down the choices. You can check one out here. Beyond that, here are some of the main factors to consider when choosing a cup.
#1: Vaginal Birth, or Not
Companies recommend their small, medium or large menstrual cup based on a number of different factors, including age, vaginal birth, flow, or cervix height.
However, in my experience, having given birth vaginally (or not) is one of the most important factors. If you haven’t given birth, then go for a smaller diameter menstrual cup of around 40-42 mm. If you’re a very small person, or a teenager, then you may want to go for one smaller than 40 mm.
If you have given birth vaginally, then choose a bigger menstrual cup with a diameter of more than 43 mm.
#2: Cervix Height
Along with whether or not you’ve given birth, the other important factor to consider is the height of your cervix. Looking on YouTube for, “How to measure cervix height” is a good place to start.
If you have a high cervix, go for a menstrual cup longer than 70 mm. If a low cervix, you’ll want to use a cup between 50-60 mm in length. For an average height cervix, a cup between 65-70 mm should work well for you.
Find out more about diameters and lengths here: Menstrual Cup Comparison Chart.
Most menstrual cups are made from silicone, while a few of them are made from Thermoplastic Elastomer (the Oi Cup, Meluna, and Hello Cup), while the Keeper Cup is made from latex.
I don’t really recommend the Keeper Cup because it’s very stiff, and some people are allergic to latex.
Silicone cups work well, but the key is to make sure it’s medical grade. You’ll see words like diamond, platinum or food grade in some of the product descriptions on Amazon, but these ones should be avoided. After all, it’s a product that you’re putting into your body for up to a week each month!
#4: Customer Reviews
Often, the best indicator of menstrual cup quality is found in the customer reviews on Amazon. Generally, you’ll want to find ones that have more than 100 reviews and an average rating of 4.3/5 or higher.
Check the 3-4 star reviews carefully to find out the pros and cons. Often the 1-2 star reviews are from people who just don’t like menstrual cups in general so may not be that helpful for you.
Are there Any Brands You Recommend?
I’m happy you asked! There are several really good mentrual cups out there and I’ve taken the liberty to link them up to Amazon for your convenience.