Are menstrual cups better than pads?

Are you a sanitary pad user who is considering menstrual cups? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

While sanitary pads are an external period product usually made from cotton and plastic, menstrual cups are a bell-shaped device that collect your period flow inside your vagina.

The Asan team are experts on all things related to menstrual cups, and we’re here to convince you that menstrual cups are SO much better than pads – for your body, your comfort, your wallet, as well as the planet.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen thousands of women and girls switch from sanitary pads to the Asan cup – most of them are incredibly happy with the decision, if not totally over-joyed!

Now you must be thinking “How are menstrual cups better than pads?” 

To answer this very important question, below are six crucial reasons why menstrual cups are way, way, way better than sanitary pads!

Reason #1 menstrual cups are more affordable than pads.

Did you know that hundreds of millions of women and girls across the world still can’t afford access to safe period care? This isn’t just the case in developing countries such as India – even in the world’s richest economies, period poverty continues to be pervasive.

The fantastic thing about menstrual cups is that they are reusable – in fact a high-quality cup like the Asan cup can last up to 10 years! By contrast, each sanitary pad lasts just a few hours, and you need to stock up on pads every single month.

So how can we quantify the cost of period cups vs period pads? One Asan cup costs Rs.1800, while sanitary pads for 10 years can cost you up to Rs. 50,000. In fact, period cups are far more affordable than period underwear too, as you need several pieces of period underwear and you have to replace them much more often. Think of the money you’d save switching to a cup and where else you could spend it!

Most importantly, Asan is a social enterprise and for every cup you buy we donate one to someone who can’t access period care – so not only are you personally saving money, you’re also changing the life of someone who truly needs it.

Reason #2 menstrual cups are much more eco-friendly than pads.

Did you know that a whopping 12.3 billion sanitary pads in India end up in landfill every year? 

These products are made from roughly 90% non-biodegradable plastic – in fact a pad that you throw away today will still be sitting in landfill, in our oceans or on our beaches 500 years from now. How terrifying is that?

We all have a part to play in averting the crisis of plastic waste, and switching from pads to a menstrual cup is one of the best things you can do to reduce not just your waste but also your carbon footprint.

Since one Asan cup replaces the waste of 2,500 tampons or pads, it’s literally the most sustainable period product on earth, much more sustainable than organic tampons or even period underwear. 

So far, your wallet is happy and so is the planet – but that’s not it! If you’re still wondering “are period cups better than pads for my body?”, then keep on reading.

Reason #3 menstrual cups are more comfortable than pads.

If you’re a pad user, then you’ve experienced some of these side effects: rashes, itching, wetness and stickiness, odour and smell, and general discomfort.

Another reason why period cups are better than pads is that cups are worn internally, you cannot feel them at all once they are in (yes, it’s hard to believe but trust us – you won’t even feel like you’re on your period!)

When you switch to a cup, you won’t experience any rashes, itching or discomfort, and best of all there is absolutely no odour. This is because your menstrual flow is collected inside your body, so it doesn’t oxidise and start to smell.

You also don’t have to sit around in a damp and wet environment and your underwear will feel totally dry. Once you experience this level of comfort on your period it’s hard to go back!

Reason #4 menstrual cups have less chemicals and toxins than pads.

We think it’s important to know what materials we put in and around our bodies and we’re sure you agree.

Did you know that most commercially available sanitary pads contain phthalates and VOCs? In fact, do you even know what these two chemical compounds are?

Phthalates are used to make pads leak-proof, and VOCs are put in to add artificial fragrances. However, since sanitary pad manufacturers don’t have to list the ingredients they use on their packaging, most of us are unaware that pads contain hundreds of different chemicals and toxins.

By contrast, the Asan cup is made from just one material – it’s 100% USP Class VI medical grade silicone. This is a safe medical material that has been tested for biocompatibility. It contains zero plastic, BPAs or toxins of any kind. 

Reason #5 menstrual cups can hold up to 3 times more flow than a pad.

Are you a heavy bleeder? Do you ever stress about rushing to the bathroom to change your pad, or even waking up at night to change it?

If this is a case you will absolutely love menstrual cups. Not only does the Asan cup hold up to 3 times more period flow than a cup (it holds between 25 and 30ml), it can also safely be worn for 12 hours, while pads must be changed within 4-6 hours.

This means less trips to the bathroom and less sleepless nights. Who wouldn’t say yes to that?

Reason #6 you can lead an active lifestyle with menstrual cups.

Give us the list of activities you’ve missed out on during periods. Swimming? Working out? Enjoying holidays? Wearing short dresses or white trousers? Even socialising? The list goes on – and part of the reason is that sanitary pads are impractical and stop us from leading active lifestyles.

The fantastic news is you can do all of the above, and more, when using a menstrual cup! Since it is worn internally, you can swim and work out with a cup. You can also wear any type of underwear and clothes, as nothing will show through your clothes.

One of our donation users from Karnataka, India, summed up the experience of using the Asan cup beautifully: “Everything I can do when I’m not on my period, I can now also do on my period!”

Have a look at the comparison chart below, where we’ve summed up the reasons why menstrual cups are so much better than pads.We hope we’ve convinced you that a menstrual cups is better than pads – but if you’ve still got questions on how exactly they work, have a look at our frequently asked questions below.

frequently asked questions

What do gynaecologists say about menstrual cups?

This is a great question. Now that menstrual cups are gaining popularity across the world, gynaecologists have begun to openly discuss and endorse them as safe to use. Have a look at the video below where Dr. Premalatha, a UK-trained gynaecologist, shares her thoughts on the Asan menstrual cup (and if you don’t have time for the video – she basically explains that it’s a fantastic and safe alternative to pads!)

Can I use a menstrual cup before my period?

Yes, if you are expecting your period, you can insert your menstrual cup in advance. No need to rush to the bathroom when you feel like your period has begun! 

Can I use a menstrual cup when not on my period?

No, we don’t advise using a menstrual cup when you’re not on your period. Please don’t use it to collect discharge or even for postpartum bleeding – it is only meant to be used for your regular menstrual periods.

Can I use menstrual cup for more than 12 hours?

When your flow is light, it can be tempting to wear a menstrual cup for hours or even days without emptying it. But we don’t advise wearing a cup for more than 12 hours. To avoid risk of infection, take your cup out within 12 hours, wash it and re-insert it straight away. 

If menstrual cups are better than pads, why are they not more popular?

Why period cups are not popular among more people is a question we get asked all the time. The honest answer is that period cups involve a learning curve. While you just strap a pad onto your underwear, cups need a bit more practice – you need to learn the right way to fold the cup and have to get used to the sensation of putting it in and taking it out.

That said, after a bit of practice menstrual cups become extremely easy to use (in fact our brand name “Asan” actually translates to easy!). We’re also very happy to see menstrual cups gaining popularity – this wonderful article in The Times explains why this is the case.

What are the disadvantages of period cups?

Great question! When it comes to menstrual cups vs sanitary pads we have to look at whether cups have any down-sides. As discussed in the question above, the main disadvantage of period cups is that they take a bit of time and practice to get used to.

The process of learning to use a cup is rewarding but it can also be frustrating when you get it wrong and experience a leak. This is why we advise beginners to use a back-up pad the first few times you try a cup, just in case there are any accidents.

It’s also very important to recognise that some people simply aren’t comfortable with insertable period products – they may have a condition such as vaginismus or may experience a lot of period pain that prevents them from wanting to insert anything at all. This is totally understandable and in these cases, external products such as period underwear and pads are the way to go.

What about period cups vs tampons?

In this blog we’ve focused on period cups vs. pads but we haven’t looked as much at tampons. The truth is that nearly all of the six points above apply to both pads as well as tampons!

Like pads, tampons are more expensive and less environmentally friendly compared to menstrual cups (you need to buy them every month). Most commercially available tampon brands contain plastic and pesticides, so they also contain many more chemicals and toxins compared to cups.

Finally, while you can exercise and swim with tampons, you need to change them every 4-6 hours due  to the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) – so this makes cups a better option for travel and holidays. A cup holds 3 times more fluid than a tampon and you can wear it for up to 12 hours.

What about period underwear? How much blood does period underwear hold compared to cups?

Period underwear refers to reusable, leak-proof underwear that can absorb your period flow. Period underwear can be a great accompaniment or back-up for menstrual cups.

Period underwear can hold about 10 ml to 15 ml of period flow, which is the same amount as 1-2 tampons. In comparison, a menstrual cup can hold 25 ml to 30 ml of period flow. So you can wear a  menstrual cup for much longer than period underwear.