Menstrual Cup vs. Pads: What’s Right for You?

7 August 2023

There are many different types of period protection out there nowadays. From disposable sanitary pads to tampons or pads, period cups or period pants too. This gives you lots of options which whilst positive can lead to confusion over what to choose. 

I mostly stick to reusable pads with period pants at the start and end of my period, and once or twice a year I'll use a mooncup or tampon.

Nothing you decide needs to be set in stone.  You may hit on one product that you really like and turn to again and again. Or you might want to mix and match lots of different options including different types of menstrual cups and pads.

Which one is right for you? We'll cover the pros and cons of cups and reusable pads.


What are reusable period pads?

Reusable period pads are absorbent, leak-proof pads made from cloth which catch menstrual blood and are then washed and reused.

They're an alternative to disposable pads or tampons. Unlike disposable pads, there's no chance of an allergic reaction.

They're becoming very mainstream especially in younger teens and tweens as an eco friendly, more comfortable alternative to single use pads. Washable pads tend to be made with bamboo or cotton and come in different sizes and absorbencies for differing menstrual flows. Panty liner, regular flow day pads or heavy flow night / maternity pads. 

"I made the switch to reusable protection 4 months ago and I will never go back. I found other cheaper products (bought on amazon) more bulky and hot so decided to try these after I had seen a review on another website and they are great. I use these as backup for my mooncup or on lighter days and they are a bit bulkier than regular pads but less bulky than bamboo and they feel much comfier and fresher then either bamboo or regular pads. Very easy to clean as well. " Product Review




They are made with a wicking top layer to keep you clean and dry, followed by an absorbent core and backed with waterproofing to prevent leaks.

Our bamboo pads have a plush patterned back layer. Our cotton pads are also patterned or you can choose our organic cotton non slip pads in black with a lovely jersey feel.

Washable period pads have poppered wings instead of the sticky wings on disposable pads but are fixed into your underwear in the same way.


The Advantages of Reusable Pads Over Menstrual Cups

1. Cost

You can build your stash slowly taking advantage of multibuy offers and as they last for years you will quickly save money.

2. Environmental Impact 

Reusable, recyclable and resaleable on pre-loved sites, some of my pads are over 12yrs old and are still going strong. They help reduce your environmental footprint by significantly decreasing the amount of waste produced during your period

3. Easier to Use

No sticky plastic or getting covered in blood trying to empty into the sink or bowl, if you are not quite ready to fold and insert a menstrual cup pads just popper into your pants and unpopper and drop into a wetbag / storage tub.

Wash in the washing machine with your next washload on a cool / cold temperature.

4. Reduced Risk of TSS 

As sanitary napkins are worn externally they reduce the risk of infection, particularly toxic shock syndrome (tss) - a bacterial infection that can be a consequence of wearing a high absorbency tampon for too long.

5. Less leaks

Using menstrual pads means you can choose the right absorbency for your flow. Changing regularly will keep you feeling confident and secure

6. External protection

Great for those who aren't ready to try internal protection or for those who may have birth injuries, sensitivity or prolapses. Reusable cloth pads are also great for catching urinary incontinence leaks.

7. Mix and match

You can buy all different types of absorbencies to suit different days of your period.

Disadvantages of reusable pads 

1. Bulk

Some people find the bulk of the heavier flow pads too obvious in their everyday pants and clothes, opt for the slimmest cotton pads to avoid this.

2. Storage

If you are out and about for the day you would need to take a wetbag with a change of pad along with you ready to be washed when you get home.

3. Shifting

You might find that reusable pads slip in your underwear, to avoid this wear a high lycra content snug fitting pant or opt for our non slip backed pads.

"Buying your reusable pads was one of the best choices I ever made! They are soooo much more comfortable and nicer than the disgusting plastic ones. Finally no more nasty smells no more leakages and no more harm to the environment. I tried these bamboo pads a couple of days ago and I was amazed how much they protect and feel good to wear. The night-pads are a perfect size for heavy periods like mine and I can calmly sleep without worrying about leakages. Washing them is also very easy. Of course there will be a bit of staining (very light) on the bamboo ones but that's normal (but the charcoal ones do come out like new after washing so good to try both options). Basically these pads are absolutely amazing! I feel fresh and happy wearing them. Thank you so much for making and selling them!!" Product Review



What is a Menstrual Cup?

A menstrual cup is a bell shaped medical grade silicone cup designed to collect period blood instead of absorbing it.

Boil it on the stove when you first get it, then hand wash with soap and water whilst on your period. At the end of your cycle boil it before the beginning of the next cycle.

They come with a tail to help you insert and remove it. This can be uncomfortable for some so once you have the hang of it, you can snip this off. Just be careful not to cut too high near the bowl. 

Just as you would with a tampon you need to use your clean hand to insert the cup into your vagina. Fold the lip of the cup into itself, relax and gently push inside then give a twist to release the suction. To remove the cup, bear down as you would when having a contraction or a bowel movement. The cup will then slide within reach of your pinched fingers.

Ease it out carefully, either emptying as you go straight into the toilet bowl or over the sink. Rinse the cup making sure the tiny holes near the rim are free of blood before reinserting and washing your hands. 

The Advantages of Menstrual Cups Over Reusable Pads

1. Less Leaks 

Menstrual cups create a seal that helps prevent leaks. If you learn how quickly the cup fills for you, and you empty regularly you can ensure you stay leak free. I fill a cup in an hour on my heavy days, lighter flowed people can leave the cup in all day just emptying morning and night

2. Less Frequent Changes 

For those with lighter flow a menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours.

3. More Comfortable

Once in place correctly due to the malleable silicone you won't notice you are wearing it and there are far less risks of TSS compared to tampons

4. Internal protection

If you can manage internal protection this means no bulk in your underwear so you can carry on as normal during your period

5. Eco friendly

Although it is made of silicone and can't be recycled cups are more environmentally sound than single use sanitary products and cut down on landfill


Disadvantages of menstrual cups 

1. Ease of use 

You would need to choose toilets with a sink or take a bottle of water out and about with you.

2. Limited capacity 

For those with heavier flow it can be filled very quickly and can be messy to change and empty in public toilets. I once dropped mine in the toilet bowl as it was so slippery

3. Tricky to position

It can be a learning curve to fold the menstrual cup and insert it to sit right, especially if your cervix decides to sit low.

This can lead to leaks and if inserted on the tilt (as happens if you have a tilted cervix) you won't create a seal so will have leaks. In addition if you have given birth vaginally, you may need larger sizes.

Emptying the cup can also be tricky. You need to pinch the base and twist to break the seal and again this can be messy!

4. No help for incontinence

As cups sit in the vagina and you struggle with bladder leaks you would still need a pad or period pants alongside the cup.

You can't really go wrong whether you opt for period pads or menstrual cups or a combination of both - you will be looking after your body and the environment.

If you would like to

Top six reusable sanitary pads

Reusable period products and toxic shock syndrome

Are reusable pads safe?

How to prevent leaks when on your period

Or you can find all our blogs here. If you want to more information about switching to reusable pee and period products, feel free to contact the team. You can drop them a email or use the online chat. The team all use the products themselves and nothing is TMI. We all happily overshare our own experiences.




About the Author: Kirstin loves sea swimming and lives with her three children by the seaside. As part of Cheeky Wipes customer service team she spends most days talking about periods, poo, and pee.

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