The Price of A Period
Periods, though a natural part of a woman’s life, can be truly disruptive. They interfere with plans, make intimate moments awkward, and can turn a perfectly good day into an ordeal with symptoms like cramps, bloating, and mood swings. Unless one decides to get pregnant or use hormonal contraceptives, these monthly disturbances are inevitable. Hence, the necessity of learning to live with it and ensuring as much comfort as possible. This is where the various period products come into play.
For those living comfortably, the cost of period products might not seem significant, but they can add up over the course of a year. In fact, some women face what’s known as ‘period poverty’, where they struggle to afford basic products such as pads and tampons every month. In this article, we will consider menstrual cups and compare them with other popular period products on the market for the budget-conscious woman, the careful spender, and anyone else interested in understanding their value.
What Are Menstrual Cups?
Menstrual cups, as the name suggests, are small cups designed to collect menstrual blood. They are made from a flexible, vagina-friendly material like silicone or latex. They are inserted into the vagina like a tampon, folding out into a cup shape and forming a seal against the vaginal walls. After about 8-12 hours (depending on the heaviness of the flow), the cup is removed by pulling on a small tab at the bottom, emptied, rinsed with soap and water, and then reinserted until the end of the period. Some menstrual cups are disposable, but most are reusable and are sterilized with hot water between uses. The price of menstrual cups varies according to brand, size, and quality, generally falling between $6 and $60 depending on the quantity in the package.
What makes menstrual cups worth their cost and what might give you pause? They are durable and not immediately disposable like most period products, making them an environmentally friendly option. They also use less material in their production, are less likely to leak when correctly inserted, and are often more comfortable to wear. However, menstrual cups might not be suitable for those who are uncomfortable with the idea of coming into contact with their own blood. They can also be tricky for beginners to insert since they don’t come with an applicator.
Menstrual Cups VS Pads
Let’s compare menstrual cups with other period products.
Pads, also known as sanitary pads or napkins, are placed in the seat of underwear to absorb menstrual blood. They vary in size, color, and design, but all have an absorbent lining, typically made of cotton, and a sticky plastic underside to prevent leakage and keep them in place. Pads range in price, usually from around $4 to $25 or more, depending on brand, absorbency, and size. These are single-use items that need to be purchased regularly.
Pros of pads:
– They are readily available.
– They are easy to use.
– They are relatively inexpensive.
– They come in various sizes and absorbency levels.
Cons of pads:
– They have a significant environmental impact.
– They can cause infections and unpleasant odors if worn for too long.
– They can be uncomfortable, especially for those allergic to the materials used.
Reusable pads are similar to regular pads but are made of cloth, often cotton or bamboo, and can be used for a long period before needing to be replaced. They need to be washed and dried after use. Prices range from $3 to $50 or more, depending on the maker, size, or quantity of reusable pads.
Pros of reusable pads:
– They are cost-effective in the long run.
– They are environmentally friendly.
– They are ideal for those allergic to materials in disposable pads.
Cons of reusable pads:
– Hand washing can be uncomfortable for some.
– Changing them in public can
be challenging, as the soiled pad needs to be stored until it can be washed.
– They need to be dried before reuse.
Menstrual Cups Vs Tampons
Tampons are tubes of absorbent material inserted into the vagina to prevent menstrual blood from leaking out. They are removed and discarded after 4-8 hours or when full. Tampons are typically single-use, although some reusable options are available. Prices range from $3-$35 and upwards, depending on brand, quantity, and absorbency.
Pros of tampons:
– They are more discreet than pads.
– They are comfortable once in place.
– They allow for swimming and other activities that might be uncomfortable with pads.
– They can be worn with any type of underwear.
Cons of tampons:
– They can be challenging for beginners, especially virgins.
– It’s not visibly clear when they need to be changed.
– They increase the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Menstrual Cups Vs Period Panties
Period panties are designed to prevent leaks that could stain clothes or furniture. They look like regular underwear but are made of highly absorbent material. They are washed, dried, and reused after use. Prices range from $10 to $35 per pair, depending on brand, size, and design.
Pros of period panties:
– They are discreet and resemble regular underwear.
– They are comfortable to wear.
– They are environmentally friendly.
Cons of period panties:
– They require a significant upfront investment.
– They can cause odor if worn too long.
– They need to be washed and dried after each use, which can be problematic if you’re in public or traveling.
In conclusion, if you’re used to pads and tampons, you might want to consider trying out a menstrual cup. They are more economical in the long term and are becoming more popular every day. However, they might not be for everyone, particularly those who are squeamish, or for individuals who have experienced sexual trauma or have conditions that make touching their vagina painful or uncomfortable.