Pads or Menstrual Cups: Which One Is Better?

Being a woman isn’t easy. Managing home, work, and family is a difficult task to repeat every day. On top of that, getting periods definitely don’t help.

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Studies show that on average, a woman uses about 10,000 sanitary pads in her lifetime. That’s an alarming number! These pads contain 90% plastic and need around 500-800 years to fully decompose in landfills. While that number is huge, we see a need to decide on the right products to use which have the most personal and environmental benefits.

This article contains comparisons between sanitary pads and menstrual cups, which will help you decide which product has more advantages and is more environment-friendly.

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups were invented back in the 1930s. Despite its long history, they are hardly known in India, as compared to the use of sanitary pads. Thanks to increased awareness, education, and globalization, while the usage of menstrual cups is still relatively smaller than the use of sanitary pads, it is increasing day by day in India.

Pros of using menstrual cups:

  • No harmful substances: Menstrual cups are made with medical-grade silicone, and are free from chemicals, bleaches, or any other substance which may cause allergic reactions.
  • No odor: Unlike sanitary pads, menstrual cups don’t let the fluid get exposed to the surrounding air, eliminating odor.
  • More time between changes: Menstrual cups last up to 12 hours at a time, while sanitary pads need to be changed every four to eight hours.
  • Environment-friendly: These cups are made to last. You won’t be throwing them out anytime soon. They are also made of non-toxic silicone, which will not harm you, or the environment in any manner.
  • Cheaper: As most menstrual cups are made to last, it saves you trips to the chemist, and money as well. Please be aware that not all menstrual cups are made to last though; there are disposable menstrual cups in the market as well.
  • Comfortable: Initially, it may be hard for you to use menstrual cups. Practicing over the months will make it easier for you in the long run. That means, no more rashes and constant chafing caused by sanitary pads. Cleaning the cups shouldn’t be a problem either due to the silicon’s smooth surface.
  • Travel-friendly: Think about it- instead of carrying a whole pack of sanitary pads which takes up space and is bulky most of the time, why not carry just one tiny silicone cup?

Clearly, menstrual cups are an overall amazing product to use. The biggest thing you’ll be doing by using these is saving thousands of sanitary pads from being thrown away in landfills and ultimately damaging the environment.

Sanitary Pads

A survey in 2016 revealed that of the 336 million menstruating women in India, about 121 million use sanitary pads. If we calculate how many sanitary pads these 121 million women would need in their lifetimes, that would be a lot (roughly one trillion two hundred and ten billion). This, combined with the fact that sanitary pads contain 90% plastic, raises numerous environmental questions and doubts.

Cons of using sanitary pads:

  • Dioxin: The World Health Organisation has labeled Dioxin as a pollutant and carcinogenic. While using sanitary pads, Dioxin seeps in and finds a way into your fat tissues, causing a major, and even fatal risk of health problems.
  • Increased infection risk: Plasticizers like BPA, and synthetic linings increase the risk of infections. To add to it, moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, like Staphylococcus Aureus and Candida Albicans. These rapidly multiply and cause vaginal infections.
  • Fragrance chemicals: Sanitary pads are laced with odor neutralizers and artificial fragrances. These cause serious irritation and allergic reactions. They also cause complications in reproduction, to the extent of infertility.
  • Harmful for the environment: Burning or burying used sanitary pads at landfills releases toxic fumes and substances into the air, water, and soil. This finds their way back to all living beings. This cycle of pollution affects animals and humans tremendously.

Increased environmental awareness around menstrual products has led many women around the world to start using alternatives to sanitary pads, such as natural cloth, reusable sanitary pads, and menstrual cups. These products are all-natural, non-toxic, last for a long time, can be reused, and are overall beneficial to their personal health and the environment.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare and potentially life-threatening illness that is caused by an infection with certain types of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes.

Menstruating women are most likely to get TSS, as it is thought to be associated with menstrual cup and tampon use. Bacteria naturally present in the vaginal area can over-grow in the presence of excess fluid and moisture.

Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • High body temperature
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Widespread sunburn-like rash
  • Lips, tongue and the whites of the eyes turning bright red
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion

If you suspect you have Toxic Shock Syndrome, immediately contact your family doctor.


By making a small change to our lives, that is by using menstrual cups instead of sanitary pads, we can benefit the environment and save money, though there is a risk factor involved, as mentioned above.

While we urge you to switch to menstrual cups, the choice to do so is personal to your situation, comfort level and risk assessment.

Edited by Cherie K.

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