Put A Cup In It

Will Menstrual Cups Work If Tampons Don’t? | Yes!

We get asked often “If I can’t use a tampon can I still use a menstrual cup?” Almost always the answer is yes! The reason you can’t use a tampon usually varies but the most common complaint is simply that they “hurt.” Not everyone can pinpoint just what is causing that pain but within our community when this topic comes up virtually everyone says that cups worked for them when tampons wouldn’t. As a cup advocate I have a vested interest is seeing everyone make the switch but I truly feel that if you’ve had a problem with tampons there is a very good chance a cup will still work for you! It’s all about finding the right cup and then giving yourself grace as you learn to use it.

Related: Take the Menstrual Cup Quiz

Tampons won’t stay in- will a cup?

Many people who complain they can’t use tampons mean this literally- their bodies expel the tampons during certain activities or even just during normal wear. Because cups function completely differently there is a good chance cups will stay in place even if tampons don’t. If the tampons are working their way out due to a lower cervix the good news is that there are a few menstrual cups designed to work for low cervixes.

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Related: Menstrual Cups for Low Cervix

Tampons are DRY and RIGID

Tampons are made to absorb and this means not only blood but also the body’s natural fluids that are by design meant to be IN your body. This causes discomfort especially when your period is light but cups never absorb any fluids so they’re comfortable during all amounts of flow at any point in your cycle.

Tampons are also stiff and rigid, especially before they soften from absorbing fluids. A menstrual cup moves and molds with your body during movement and warms to the body’s temperature making it more comfortable.

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Tampons HURT to insert

While it may seem like the opposite would be true, many tampon users complained of not being able to use the larger tampons, only the small “light” versions, or even were unable to insert any tampons without pain or discomfort. After switching to a cup the same users did not have pain during the insertion process with a cup. This complaint covers all types of tampons- applicatorless tampons are dry and scratchy to insert, cardboard applicators are just plain unpleasant and also dry to insert, and some people even have issues with plastic applicators. Plastic applicators are the easiest for tampon users to insert and the smoothest but wasteful. Plus applicator tampons just shoot the tampon wherever it lands; this can be a source of discomfort it it ends up against your cervix or in a strange angle that causes discomfort. A cup when folded is still going to be slightly larger than a tampon with an applicator but it works well with silicone safe lubricant if needed and you get the added bonus of placing the cup in the exact right position.

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If you can’t or won’t wear tampons because they’re uncomfortable to remove cups are also going to give you a better and different experience. Removing a dry or mostly dry tampon is a universally disliked experience that we can all remember and cringe at. It’s like removing a tube of sandpaper. Cups will never cause a scratchy removal and as long as you remember to break the seal when removing your cup should be completely easy and painfree to remove.

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Related: How to Insert a Menstrual Cup

Tampons Leak 

A smaller group of people didn’t have a comfort issue with tampons but found that they leaked and either quit using tampons or had to wear backup protection with them. It wasn’t a topic I chose to highlight in the video but there were a handful of people that chimed in that their cups worked well after having that disappointing leaking experience with their tampons.

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PRAISE From Tampon Dropouts Who LOVE The Cup

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Have you switched to a cup after not being able to use tampons? Let us know in the comments!

8 Responses

  1. I’m 15 and I got my first period over a year ago. I just got a menstrual cup for the first time because I wanted to be able to swim and do sports more easily than with a pad. I’ve never used tampons because they just look uncomfortable over all. I’ve been trying for three days with my small Lena cup and I have not once been close to inserting it; I’ve tried 4 different folds already 🙁 I managed to kind of measure my cervix height, which was low, without much of an issue. I’ve tried “relaxing” and standing, squatting, and sitting but nothing seems to work… should I try a different brand of a menstrual cup or is there anything else I can do before moving on?

    1. Using a little bit of lubricant or wetting it before inserting may help. If you can get it in a bit, you can always nudge it up from the bottom (vs having to have it fully inside before opening)

  2. I’m 44 and have never been able to wear a tampon. I just spend $90 on 3 cups— saalt, diva, Cora—none of them are working. They always feel like they are falling out. I have a very low cervix. What am I doing wrong? This is SO frustrating.

    1. Diva is definitely too long for a low cervix. Saalt and Cora can work okay with a lower cervix if you allow the cervix to sort of sit inside of the cup a bit. Have you trimmed the stem on any of your cups? And is it the bottom of the cup protruding, or only the stem?

  3. Hi everyone, I am 14 years old. I got my first period at 11 and being a swimmer on the school team I naturally used tampons. They were OK until I went into the water when my tampon swelled up with water like a sponge. This was very inconvenient especially swimming in the sea on holiday etc. I saw the school nurse who said I should use a menstrual cup like the Mooncup UK -MCUK. So just before my 12th birthday I used my cup for the first time, using some KY lubricant. There was a little discomfort pulling it out the first time but after that it was really easy. Since then I have used nothing else at all and have even converted my Mum! I asked around and some girls have the same problem with tampons but some do not.
    Moms! If you have a daughter who swims make sure she has a menstrual cup!
    Bryony (Bree) Farmer has a video about small sizes for preteens.

  4. I just bought my first cup (the small soft one you guys made with Saalt) because of this article. It is way more comfortable than tampons after insertion. But it is super uncomfortable to insert because it is so much bigger than a light tampon. I’ve followed all the different folding suggestions that came with the product.

    1. Hi Ruth! You may have already tried this, but are you familiar with the triangle fold? I found the C-fold, punchdown fold, and seven-fold too painful, but the triangle fold is much better. It’s a little more difficult to get the cup to open (you may have to unfold it manually), but that’s a small price to pay for nearly-painless insertion. I say “nearly-painless” as there is still some discomfort at the wider end of the triangle, but not anywhere near as much as with other folds. Also, it could help to put a small amount of water-based lubricant on the cup (needs to be water-based so it won’t damage the silicone). I hope you find a way to insert the cup without pain!

  5. Honestly, switching to the cup has been the best thing I’ve done for my body. I never have any problems especially being as active as I am, it never shifts and slips out like tampons sometimes would. Super comfortable and convenient. I’ll never go back!

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