Menstrual cups instead of tampons? 5 reasons to consider making the switch

Menstrual cups

*This is a guest post

I know, it might seem unbelievable, but I truly had no idea that there were reusable period products until I was in my early 30’s.  I have some serious regret about all those wasted years and wish that my friends who were secretly using menstrual cups had told me about them way sooner!

There are lots of reasons why you might consider making the switch, including the environment, cost savings, reducing your exposure to chemicals and risk of toxic shock syndrome, as well as having a higher capacity.

Keep on reading for more details about each of these points. Also consider making the switch to a menstrual cup from tampons today.

Reason #1: Menstrual cups are great for the environment

The first reason you may want to make the switch to a menstrual cup from tampons is because it’s so much better for the environment.

I’ve seen various estimates of the number of tampons someone uses during a lifetime, but they range from 11,000-16,000. Due to the nature of these products, they can’t really be recycled. Also think about the packaging they come in, as well as the energy used to manufacture and transport these products.

Let’s assume that the average person menstruates for 40 years. With proper care and cleaning, menstrual cups made from medical grade silicone can last for 5-10 years. Instead of the thousands of tampons, you could use 4-8 menstrual cups.

It’s clear that making the switch to a menstrual cup can reduce our ecological footprint in a big way. Imagine the possibilities if even 10% of menstruating people in the world were using menstrual cups?

Reason #2: Save money (lots of it!)

I don’t think I really need to tell you this, but tampons are expensive! Over on Amazon, a box of 64 OB tampons costs around £8. If the average person uses 11,000 tampons during a lifetime, that’s £1375!.

You also have to factor in the “pink tax,” which is a tax you pay for being a women. In the UK, tampons and sanitary napkins are currently taxed at 5%. Some countries (Canada for example) have eliminated taxes on these products, while there are some, like the UK who still have this.

Compare this to a menstrual cup. The most popular menstrual cup that’s made in the UK is the Mooncup. It’s currently selling for 20 Pounds on Amazon. Assuming you’ll need eight of them during a lifetime, that’s 160 Pounds.

£160 vs. £1375: that’s a huge difference! Menstrual cups can seem expensive, but over the medium to long-term, they are the cheapest period protection option you can find.

Obviously, the earlier you start, the better if you want to maximize your savings on period products. Who doesn’t like to save money?

Reason #3: Reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals

The next reason you may want to consider making the switch from tampons to a menstrual cup is because you can reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals.

Some brands of tampons contain trace amounts of pesticides, as well as chemicals from the bleaching process. Although there are only small amounts of this stuff, exposure to it can add up over time and result in some serious health effects.

The worst part about it is that in most countries, companies aren’t required to disclose what’s in these products. For example, in the USA, tampons are classified as “medical devices” by the FDA and are therefore not required to list materials in them.

Hopefully legislation surrounding this will change, but in the meantime, it makes sense to switch to organic tampons, or even better, a menstrual cup.

Top-quality menstrual cups are made from medical grade materials that don’t easily degrade. The thing to be aware of are the very cheap menstrual cups that are made in China. The silicone in them isn’t high quality and they tend to break down quickly.

Some of the top European made menstrual cups you may want to consider are the Mooncup, Meluna Cup, Lunette Cup, and the FleurCup.

Reason #4: Reduce your risk of toxic shock syndrome

There has been a lot of hype lately about how menstrual cups come with a higher risk of toxic shock syndrome than tampons. This was because of a study on menstrual cups done in the lab. What about real life?

To date, there has been one reported case of TSS from a menstrual cup. It happened because the person cut themselves when inserting the cup at the beginning of their period, and then left it in for longer than the recommended time.

There are hundreds of cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome from tampons each year. Of course, there are also more people who use tampons than menstrual cups so this should be considered. If you follow basic precautions such as using the lowest absorbency level possible, and changing your tampon frequently enough, the risk of TSS from tampons is quite low as well.

What is clear though is that the risk of TSS is lower with a menstrual cup than with tampons. This is especially true if the cup is taken out, washed well and then reinserted within the recommended time range (8-12 hours).

Reason #5: Increased Capacity

If you have a heavy period, you may find yourself having to change a jumbo tampon every 2-3 hours. You probably have to get up during the night as well to deal with your period at least once. It’s not ideal!

Jumbo tampons have a capacity of around 10 ml. The average menstrual cup can hold 30 ml, while there are even some high-capacity menstrual cups that hold around 40 ml.

3-4x more capacity equals 3-4x less period hassle. Seriously, you’ll love being able to sleep through the night.

Some menstrual cups with higher than average capacities you may want to consider include the Super Jennie, Anigan Eva Cup, Meluna Cup, XO Flo, Merula Cup, and the Hesta Cup.

So has that given you some food for thought? Would you consider moving to a menstrual cup? Do leave a comment and share your thoughts. And if you found this post helpful, why not check out 7 ways to make your period suck less.

About the Author

Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth who can usually be found on top of a mountain, or paddling the rivers around Vancouver, Canada. She hopes that one day, a reusable feminine hygiene option will be in the hands of every single menstruating person in the world. You can find her at Reusable Menstrual Cups.

Picture credit: Designed by Freepik

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