Fri | Dec 13, 2019

Pads, tampons or cups?

Published:Monday | December 2, 2019 | 12:11 AMJessica Harrison - Lifestyle Writer

Menstruation is a beautiful part of a woman’s life. However, most of us seem to have a very tiresome time dealing with the monthly nuances that hold hands with our periods. From figuring out which pills ease the pain to satisfying cravings; the last thing we want to deal with is leakage – especially not when we’re out and about.

Out of a discussion among colleagues, I realised that each menstrual experience is different, and out of that difference comes the reason why there are so many options in the feminine hygiene aisle. Majority of women start out with pads, gradually make the transition to tampons, and then experience the wonders of menstrual cups. All decisions pretty much boil down to comfort, flow, and affordability. Without further ado, let’s open up the discussion and jump into the relatable ins and outs of these products.

Pads:

I remember my first interaction with the infamous pad. I was only a grade-five student and they sent all the boys away only to unpeel a bulky package and paste its content on to the crotch of the ugliest panty I’ve ever seen. All the girls snickered. Little did I know that two years later, I’d have to endure this ordeal. I spent years trying to manoeuvre life with pads but they would, every time, without fail, leak. I would go to sleep on fresh sheets and wake up in my very own crime scene no matter which way I slept. Alas! I even tried sleeping sitting up.

Abigail M is in her 30s and stated that she only ever uses pads due to the personality of her flow, and they work perfectly.

Pros:

1) Protection against stained underwear.

2) Little to no interaction with the body or the blood itself.

3) They are safe to be worn overnight due to the risk of toxic shock syndrome that come with the tampon territory.

Cons:

1)You are more susceptible to odour, especially on hotter days.

2) You can feel the blood seeping out.

3) They shift around during activities which may cause uncontrolled leakage.

Tampons:

I was in fourth form when I saw my friend with an attractive packet with some sort of plastic stick inside. I asked her about it and that’s when I knew that options were available. “Inside me?” I questioned wearily. Swearing by a better experience, she pushed it over to me and I left with every intention to try it. Rummaging through my belongings, my mother found the tampon and instantly started a heated question and answer session. “What is this?!” “Where did you get it?!” Confused and slightly afraid, I answered her questions. She took it and stormed out of the room. Years later, having moved out, and in desperate need for a change, I decided on the most basic brand of tampons. It wasn’t an easy transition but it was still better than sanitary napkin. Now, I see tampons as gospel and everything else is noise. Others however, think the complete opposite and here’s why.

Pros:

1) You get a few hours to just exist and forget about your period.

2) Easily disguisable in your pocket so you don’t have to tote your bag or pouch with you to the ladies room

3) You get to swim and exercise freely without worry

Cons:

Though a rarity, you run the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome

They may leak if you have a heavy flow or forget about it.

You usually have to change it after doing a number two.

Menstrual Cups:

I had met a new friend by the end of 2017 and we were casually just talking about periods when she said, “oh. I need to empty my cup.” “Cup?” I asked. On January 20, 2019 the Outlook published a Dear Doc column and someone asked if cups are a healthy and safe option. The doctor explained that these small and flexible cups are used to collect menses instead of absorbing it like a pad or tampon does. They have been around since the 1930s, are quite popular and pose no threat to the human body.

Pros:

1) No more leaks. They form a tight seal, so once you get the hang of inserting it, there will be no need to wear a backup pad or pantyliner.

2) There is less odour. Menstrual blood may begin to have an odour when it’s exposed to air; but since the cup forms an airtight seal, there is no exposure to air, and so no odour.

3) You can have mess-free sex during your menses. The soft, disposable cups are designed with sex in mind. They look like a diaphragm, a contraceptive device, so your partner cannot feel it and there is no blood to worry about.

Cons:

1) Removal can be messy and embarrassing. Even though inserting the cup can be easy, removing it is not easy at all. In a sitting or squatting position, you will have to use your pelvic floor muscles to push the cup down in the vagina, and then reach in and grab the stem.

2) It can be difficult to find the correct fit, because cups come in different sizes depending on age, menstrual flow, and whether you have had a child. Finding the perfect fit can be challenging, and it will take some trial and error, and you may have leaks until you do.

Don’t shy away from the conversation. Let us know which you prefer and why by sending us an email at lifestyle@gleanerjm.com

jessica.harrison@gleanerjm.com