Pads, Tampons, Cups: What’s Best for Your Period?

This Menstrual Hygiene Week, here’s a one-stop guide for all the pros and cons of different period products.

Her Health
5 min read

Tired of pads, and the rashes and the itchiness they cause? Some people are simply done with buying a new packet of pads every few months, while others aren’t satisfied with the comfort of usual period products.

And then there’s concern about the environmental impact of period products, which pile up in landfills or sewers.

But what is the alternative? Since everything about our “that time of month” is so hush-hush, we decided to discuss the different period products for all you ladies out there. And men, watch, understand and don’t make periods something alien to cringe at.

Pads, Tampons, Cups: What’s Best for Your Period?
(Photo: Saumya Pankaj/FIT)

Here’s a one-stop guide for all the pros and cons of sanitary napkins, tampons, menstrual cups and cloth pads.

Pads, Tampons, Cups: What’s Best for Your Period?
(Photo: FIT)

Pads Or Sanitary Napkins

Pads are the most popular products used by urban women. We’re familiar with them and that’s where they win. They’re efficient, hygienic, easy to use and basically get the job done without much hassle.

But here comes the “but”. They aren’t exactly comfortable and the chemicals used to make them can be harmful.

Pads, Tampons, Cups: What’s Best for Your Period?
(Photo: FIT)
Since they’re about 90% plastic and synthetic, wearing them day in and day out can irritate the skin and increase your chance of getting rashes.

It also feels wet, which at times can cause skin inflammation and fungal infections.

And well, the amount of non-biodegradable waste they create is the topic of another conversation.


Pads, Tampons, Cups: What’s Best for Your Period?
(Photo: FIT)

Then come tampons. They remove all the outer discomfort of using a pad. You may feel more free when you’re going about your day. But when you first try it out it may feel uncomfortable.

Again, tampons also have chemicals like chlorine dioxide and bleach which aren’t all that great to put in your vagina.

The good news is now a lot of organic and biodegradable options are available.

Bad news? Tampons are made of super absorbent materials so they run the risk of drying out your vaginal walls if they’re in for long. That’s why at times you may find it difficult to remove them.

And if you keep one tampon on for longer than 8 hours it could be a breeding ground for infections. Ideally, you should change your tampon every 4-6 hours irrespective of the flow.

There have been some horror stories as well, where people have forgetten they have a tampon inside and it stayed there for days! Now, that’s definitely not healthy.


Menstrual Cups

Pads, Tampons, Cups: What’s Best for Your Period?
(Photo: FIT)

Menstrual cups are reusable products for “leak free” protection that are made of silicone, which soften and shape directly to your body. Inserted into the vaginal opening, these cups collect period blood and keep you leak free for hours.

Cups can typically protect for 12 hours, including overnight. They should be changed and washed at least twice daily.

This one is the cheapest and the most environment-friendly option out there. It’s reusable and sustainable.

In fact, if it doesn’t tear or wear out, you can use one menstrual cup for up to ten years!

And they can also easily be worn for around 8-10 hours depending on your flow. Though this also may take a while to get used to.

But here’s comes the downer. It’s messy to remove, and there’s a chance of a blood bath all over, especially in public washrooms or places where it would be hard for you to wash your hands and the cup right away.

Reusable Cloth Pads

Pads, Tampons, Cups: What’s Best for Your Period?
(Photo: FIT)

Best part of cloth pads? It’s cloth! So, you won’t feel any friction or have to put anything inside you. No rashes or allergies because of plastic.

Reusable cloth pads come different sizes. They have proper layers of absorption and is leak proof, so don’t worry it’s not just a piece of cloth.

One of these pads can last you up to five years if they don’t tear, and it’s recommended you have around 10 pads for one cycle and you wash them on a daily basis.

Well now, that’s where the problem comes. Washing them.

It’s not a pretty business and you may find it tedious. And if you’re out and you change pads, well, there’s no other option than packing it up and carrying it around in your bag. And not everyone would be comfortable with that.

Like a regular pad, cloth pads feel wet too, in fact that’s how you would know you need to change. And that could give rise to infections as well. You should change every two to six hours.

In the end, it’s all up to you. We’re actually lucky to be even discussing our options. More than half the women in this country are still left with only leaves to protect them during their periods. But again, this is the topic of another conversation.

So, depending on your needs, make an informed choice and use whatever you’re comfortable with, don’t let people make you feel guilty about it. You should be cool with whatever you’re putting inside or outside your vagina.

Cameraperson: Athar Rather and Shiv Kumar Maurya
Video Editor: Ashish Maccune
Camera Assistant: Zubair Lone

(Have a period story to share? Write to us at or comment below.)

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