Should You Swap out Your Tampons for a Menstrual Cup?

When I first saw an ad for menstrual cups, I was mystified and more than a little squicked out. In the age-old debate of tampons vs. pads, I was a tampon girl, all the way, and there was little room for improvement - or so I thought. I added up the money I spent on tampons in a year, and compared that to the cost of a cup, and the curiosity (and miser) in me won out, and I gave the cup a try. Here's what I learned.

1. PRO: They're Budget-friendly

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The reusable cup I chose cost $25 including shipping. A box of tampons costs $10 a month. If you replace the cup once a year (and you really don't have to - most can least YEARS), you'd save $95 a year. That's a new pair of boots, or a one-way ticket to Vegas, both of which are a lot more fun than extra boxes of tampons.

2. CON: the Mess

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The first couple of times I used my cup, it was straight out of the prom scene from Carrie - it was a mess! On my third day, as I got more used to using the cup, it got better, and by the end of my period, I was a mess-free pro. Which brings me to my next point...

3. CON: the Learning Curve

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Like the first time you use tampons, there's a learning curve when you first use a cup. Like inserting a tampon, it's important to relax. Again, though, by the third day, I was a pro.

4. PRO: They're Ideal for the Outdoors

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If I'm so firmly pro-tampon, why'd I even bother to try a cup? Because I'm outdoors-y, hiking and sleeping under the stars for days at a time, without access to a bathroom. So tampons are difficult to pack, and use, and dispose of... a cup, though? Much easier to pack in, and much easier to use. Except...

5. CON: the Environment

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One of the pros cup devotees will mention is that they're much more environmentally-friendly than pads or tampons, and from a waste perspective, that's completely true. But you'll use a lot of water rinsing your cup. Like when you use a tampon, you have to wash your hands before and after, but there's also the rinsing of the cup.

6. PRO: You'll Get to Know Your Body

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There's something kind of cool about knowing exactly how much (or how little) your body sheds during your cycle. It's a lot less than I thought, though, remarkably, my on my one heavy day, I bleed more than all the other days put together. Sorry... TMI? Anyway, what will you learn about your body and flow?

7. PRO: Discretion

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Most women make the switch from pads to tampons for discretion - we're always afraid everyone else will be able to see or hear our pads. A cup, like a tampon, is invisible.

8. PRO: Lower Risk of TSS

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With the use of tampons comes a risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare but sometimes fatal infection. That risk is drastically lower when you use a cup.

9. PRO: Loads of Brands to Choose from

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There are so many brands of cups to choose from! With pads and tampons, there aren't many options, but with cups, there's more than a dozen. I chose Lunette, but there's also Diva Cup, Moon Cup, and more.

10. PRO: Your Insides

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A tampon absorbs the good bacteria in your lady bits, and it can dry you out. A cup, however, leaves your delicate pH and your other good stuff intact.

11. PRO: Gas Money

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Remember when I was talking about the cost and environmental savings of using a cup? I nearly forgot to mention: using a cup will also save you the time, effort, cost, and greenhouse emissions of those extra trips to the drug store.

12. PRO: Sports

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I'm a runner, and I've worried about tampon changes in the middle of a long race or training run. The cup can stay in place up to 12 hours, depending on your flow - that's enough time for a soccer game, or even a full marathon.

13. PRO: Comfort

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Pads? Not comfortable. Tampons? Usually pretty comfortable, though occasionally distractingly uncomfortable. A cup? Totes comfy - once it's in, you won't even feel it.

So... any questions? Will you try a cup? Or, if you already have, what pros and cons would you add?

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