Tampons, pads and menstrual cups. What should you use?

What are my options?

Pads are used to soak up the menstrual flow. Tampons and menstrual cups catch the flow from inside your vagina. Pads, tampons, and menstrual cups can be used at different times. Some also can be used together.

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Sanitary Pads

Pads are worn inside your underwear to collect your menstrual flow. They come in different sizes, styles, and thicknesses. Some have extra material on the sides called “wings” that fold over the edges of your underwear to help keep the pad in place and give better protection. Source: HealthyWomen.org


Tampons and menstrual cups catch the flow from inside your vagina. Just like pads, tampons come in different sizes for heavier and lighter periods. The tampon package will tell you how much fluid it will absorb. A “super” tampon, for example, is thicker and is meant for heavy flow. Source: HealthyWomen.org

Menstrual cups

Menstrual cups are made of plastic or rubber. They are inserted into the vagina to catch the menstrual flow. You remove and empty the cup every 8–12 hours. Some cups are used only once and thrown away. Others can be washed and reused. Source: HealthyWomen.org



  • Various lengths
  • Various absorbency levels
  • Extra protection if used with tampons
  • Various scents
  • Some feel uncomfortable
  • Can feel like a light diaper
  • Can leak onto clothing
  • Can have odor
  • Need to change frequently


  • Single-use
  • Discrete packaging
  • Comes in absorbancy levels
  • Various sizes
  • Various scents
  • Risk of toxic shock syndrome
  • Increased risk of UTI
  • Changing frequently
  • Can hurt if not inserted in the correct position
  • Can irritate vagina


  • Safely worn for up to 12 hours
  • Reusable options
  • One time use options
  • Less frequent need to change
  • Less leakage
  • Do not contain chemicals, bleaches, or fibers
  • Can be worn during intercourse
  • Having to clean them
  • Inserting them incorrectly

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