The Scoop on Period Product Options: Tampons, Pads, Cups, and Discs


The red tide, the time of the month, your period — whatever you call it, chances are that, like other females, you don’t look forward to it. For many women, menses can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, especially when dealing with treating PMS symptoms.

But choose the suitable period product, and you can make your time of the month a lot more bearable. Growing up, you may have only learned about tampons and pads, but more period products are available today. Knowing your options is key to finding the best fit for you. So, here’s how tampons, pads, cups, and discs measure up:

Option #1 Tampons

The most common period product is a tampon, a small, tube-like absorbent cotton plug that can absorb menstrual blood when inserted into the vagina. Tampons come in different absorbencies, so you can choose one that’s right for your flow.

They’re usually made of rayon or a blend of rayon and cotton, and some brands are even made of 100% organic cotton. Tampons are a popular choice because they’re small and easy to use, and can be worn for up to eight hours before needing to be changed.

One thing to keep in mind with tampons is that they can increase your risk of developing a rare but serious infection called toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and release toxins, which can be life-threatening. However, the risk of TSS is low, and it’s even lower if you use tampons with the lowest absorbency for your flow.

Option #2 Pads

Pads are another popular choice for managing menstrual flow. They’re larger than tampons and attach to the inside of your underwear to absorb blood. Pads come in different sizes, absorbencies, and materials. They’re also disposable, although there are some reusable options available.

The downside to pads is that they can be bulky and uncomfortable, and some women find them to be less convenient than tampons. They can also cause skin irritation, as the adhesive can stick to your skin. Not to mention that they can amount to a lot of waste if you’re not using a reusable option.

a tampon and a menstrual cup

Option #3 Cups

Menstrual cups are a newer option gaining popularity in recent years. They’re small, cup-shaped devices inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. These cups are made of silicone or rubber and can be worn for up to 12 hours.

Cups have several advantages over other period products. They’re reusable, so they’re more environmentally friendly than disposable options. They’re also more comfortable to wear and can hold more blood than tampons or pads, making them a good choice for women with a heavy flow.

However, cups can be tricky to use because of the learning curve. Inserting and removing them can take some practice, and they may not be the best choice for women who are uncomfortable with touching their bodies.

Option #4 Discs

Menstrual discs are a newer option similar to cups but are flat, disc-shaped devices that sit at the base of the vagina and collect menstrual blood. They can be made of silicone or rubber and worn for up to 12 hours.

Like cups, discs are a more sustainable option than disposable ones, and there’s also a learning curve. But the most significant difference is that discs don’t need to be removed and emptied like cups do because of the auto-dumping phenomenon. This can make them a more convenient option for some women.

How to Choose the Right Period Product for You?

Now that you know the different types of period products available, how do you choose the right one for you? Here are a few factors to consider:

Factor #1: Your flow

The first step is to assess your flow. If you have a light flow, you may be able to get away with using a tampon or pad with lower absorbency. If you have a heavy flow, you’ll need to use a product with higher absorbency.

Factor #2: Your comfort level

Another factor to consider is your comfort level. If you’re uncomfortable with touching your own body, you may want to steer clear of menstrual cups and discs. If you’re okay with touching your own body, any option should be acceptable.

Factor #3: Your lifestyle

Your lifestyle is also an essential factor to consider. If you’re an active person, you may want to choose a product that won’t interfere with your activities, like a menstrual cup. If you’re more sedentary, any of the options should be fine.

Factor #4: Your budget

Finally, you’ll need to consider your budget. Disposable products are usually more expensive than reusable products, but they may be more convenient for some women. Reusable products can save you money in the long run, but they require more effort to use.

No matter what period product you choose, it’s crucial to find one that is comfortable and convenient for you. The best way to do this is to experiment with different types and see what works best for you. And remember, there are no wrong answers when it comes to period products!

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