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.
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.
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.
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.
Related: How to Insert a Menstrual Cup
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.
PRAISE From Tampon Dropouts Who LOVE The Cup
Have you switched to a cup after not being able to use tampons? Let us know in the comments!