a pads, cup, tampon

Pads, cups, and tampons

Every month millions of women across the world experience the same thing: their period. Those lucky enough to have access to sanitary supplies have some choices to make. And how have these choices changed since our mother’s time?

Pads, tampons or cups? This a debate we have as girls and women. However, we can explore the various options to make easier choices.

As women, we might have code names for pads and tampons. In my circle of friends, sanitary pads are called ‘pancakes’ and tampons are called ‘bullets’. Is one better than the other, or, is it just a matter of personal preference? Here’s a look at what each offers.

Sanitary towels

It’s estimated that a woman will use upwards of 10,000 sanitary towels in her lifetime. Pads are worn directly beneath the vagina – not too far forward and not too way back. Pads are very comfortable if put on right. They also come in different absorbency levels – regular, heavy, super heavy. Normally the number of ‘tear drops’ on the packaging indicates absorbency level.

Depending on the length and level of absorbency you buy, some pad outlines can show through certain pants. While they are one of the most affordable sanitary supplies for women, pads cannot be worn when you are swimming or with tight clothing.

Reusable cloth pads

Most recently, cloth pads have been making appearances in the market. Although not cheap, some women prefer them over manufactured sanitary towels because most are organic and chemical-free. These pads are used in the same way as regular ones with the only difference being that you insert them into specially made underwear. Some cloth pads can be worn with regular underwear because they come with special clasps to help them stick to it. The downside of reusable pads is that they need to be washed after every use. Plus, cloth pads are currently not easily available in Kenya.


First of all, using a tampon does not break your virginity – that is a myth. Tampons are worn inside your vagina and are engineered to swell inside as it absorbs your flow. If inserted properly, you shouldn’t be able to feel that you have one on. Like sanitary pads, they come in various sizes and absorbencies. You are advised to change a tampon between 4 and 8 hours using the accurate absorbency type for your flow. Ensure you wash your hands before and after changing your tampon to avoid infection. Some women use tampons with panty liners as an added protection against accidental leaks.

Tampons can be worn while swimming and other physical exercises and do not show at all.

Menstrual cup

This is also worn inside your vagina like tampons but it does not absorb your menses. It collects your flow in the cup, which is then removed and dumped into the toilet. You have to dispose of its contents and wash the cup thoroughly before reuse. It can be worn up to 12 hours a day. Some women prefer menstrual cups because they believe it doesn’t have chemicals, fibers or bleach that could cause sensitivity or allergic reactions. Unfortunately, cups are also not available in Kenya.

Some women tend to dislike menstrual cups because they are not as easy to remove and insert as tampons. They also dislike the added chore of constantly having to wash the cups. However, this can be easily solved by using disposable menstrual cups and by learning best insertion techniques to suit the contours of your body.

It doesn’t matter what method you use, hygiene is the number one priority during your menses. Ensure you use the correct absorbency for your blood flow, always wash your hands before you insert tampons and cups, and change your sanitary products frequently to avoid bad odor and possible infection. Do not be tempted to stay overnight with any product that you have been wearing all evening. This could be dangerous to your reproductive health.


What have you tried from the above and found comfortable? What would you like to try? Talk to us on below, on our discussion board, or Facebook

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Recent Comments (12)

    1. Thanks for your input
      Thanks for your input Isabella.

  1. Would like to try tampons.
    Would like to try tampons.

    1. Good. Tell us how it goes
      Good. Tell us how it goes Lucy.

  2. What if your periods have…
    What if your periods have been flowing for two weeks without stopping what can you take to stop them?

    1. Hey Ann, having a long…

      Hey Ann, having a long period one time is not really that concerning, but bleeding for more than one week multiple cycles requires medical attention. It is important that you seek medical attention for a check up and possible treatment. Check out the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/menstruation

  3. Its now 4 months after my…
    Its now 4 months after my wife got baby boy, we normally have unprotected sex with her, might we be risking to get another baby or after how long will she be able to be pregnant again?

    1. Hi Steven, breastfeeding is…

      Hi Steven, breastfeeding is a temporal natural birth control method but this method only works if the mother only breastfeeds her baby, which means they do not give the baby any other food, formula or drinks, they breastfeed the baby at least every four hours during the day, and every six hours at night with no exceptions, baby is less than six months old and one has not started their monthly period. If your wife already started her period then she can get pregnant and also if she is not practicing all of the above items. It is important you speak with your health provider to you explore a more long term method. 

  4. How do you know your safe…
    How do you know your safe days and unsafe days

    1. Hey Rose, Safe days are one…

      Hey Rose, Safe days are one of the most unreliable ways to prevent pregnancy, and we really don’t recommend it at all.   When your safe days are really depends on the length of your cycle. Technically speaking, the first seven days before and after your period, as well as the time of your period, are relatively safe. But, if you have a shorter cycle (shorter than 28 days), or an irregular one, this will vary. Also keep in mind that sperm can survive for up to five days and longer inside the body- so even if you have sex on a ‘safe’ day, you can still get pregnant, because the sperm survived until your ovulation date. So you see, it’s a very inaccurate. And lastly, of course this won’t protect you from STDs. Only condoms will. So we really recommend a more reliable method. Check out this article for additional information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/menstruation

  5. I have been using pads…
    I have been using pads before but recently I tried tampons and is very comfortable than pads please my question is does it have any side infect.

    1. Hi Amaka, 

      No. Tampons do…

      Hi Amaka, 

      No. Tampons do not have an effect as long as you buy from reputable manufacturers. And yes, tampons are quite comfortbale. 

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