“Comparison is a thief of joy,” but not in all cases, especially if you want the best for yourself. Comparing sanitary products, whether you prefer sanitation towels, sanitary pads, menstrual cups, or tampons, is essential. The advantages and disadvantages of each sanitary product can help you select the best one for your hygiene and menstrual needs.
You’d agree that choosing from the many options is a bit overwhelming. In fact, it gets tiring switching from one product to another in search of the best one for you. In this article, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of the advantages and disadvantages of each period sanitary product.
The best part is; you can scroll to the information you need using the table of content below.
What Are Sanitary Products?
Sanitary products are hygiene materials that keep the body or parts of the body clean. Over the years, sanitary products have come to mean many things, including sanitation products and women’s hygiene products.
In the context of women’s hygiene products, sanitary products are those supplies used during a woman’s period or menstrual flow. There are different sanitary products based on personal preference and specific situations.
Common sanitary products include sanitary pads or sanitary napkins, sanitation towels or period clothes, menstrual cups, and tampons.
Types of Sanitary Products
There are six different types of sanitary products women can choose from based on their needs and personal preferences. These six sanitary products include;
- Sanitary pads
- Sanitation towels or reusable cloth pads
- Menstrual cups
- Period underwear
- Menstrual disks
Did you know all of these sanitary products existed for your period needs? Find out more as we go over the pros and cons, merits and demerits of each period product.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Sanitary Pads
Sanitary pads are also known as menstrual pads, sanitary napkins, panty liners, or pads. Each of these alternative names can be used to describe the period material, depending on where you are.
Sanitary pads or Pads are the commonest sanitary or menstrual products used by women of all ages. Pads contain disposable natural or synthetic fibers made from cotton or rayon. These fibers absorb period blood and keep you safe from staining your clothes. Sanitary pads are available in different sizes, thicknesses, colors, and other options, depending on your flow.
The common types of sanitary pads available on the market include;
- Panty liners
- Ultra-thin or slender sanitary pads
- Regular sanitary pads
- Maxi or super sanitary pads
- Overnight sanitary pads
- Maternity sanitary pads
Irrespective of the choice, sanitary pads are the same and have common advantages and disadvantages. Below are the pros and cons of using sanitary pads.
Advantages of Using Sanitary Pads
Available in various absorbency levels
Sanitary pads are available in various absorbency levels, depending on your flow. Panty liners or Ultra-thin menstrual pads can be used for light flows, while maxi pads with or without wings can be used for heavy flow. You can also use overnight sanitary pads, which are often longer, to protect yourself and your bedding through the night.
Easy to use
Most girls and women find sanitary pads easy to use. There are tons of tutorial videos on how to install sanitary pads, making it easier for teenage girls to use sanitary pads for their first periods. Pads are also easy to change and dispose of, which increases confidence and improves personal hygiene.
Menstrual pads are easily available for purchase, whether online or offline. A simple “menstrual pads” search offers hundreds of online stores selling female hygiene products. You can also walk into a pharmacy or local convenience store for menstrual pads in an emergency.
Menstrual pads have absorbent materials which collect period blood to avoid stains or mess. Pads are easier to install, remove, and dispose of. These properties help to improve personal hygiene among users of all ages, whether teenage girls or fully grown women.
Menstrual pads are a convenient choice for women across all settings. This is because they are readily available and sometimes subsidized. Pads are also easy to use, remove, and dispose of. Additionally, menstrual pads come in smaller packages, making them easy to carry in purses and handbags for emergencies.
Disadvantages of Using Sanitary Pads
Are you an eco-friendliness champion? Chances are high that you may not find menstrual pads exciting as not all are eco-friendly. Sanitary pads are made from synthetic materials like rayon which contains dioxin – a harmful chemical. The chemical content harms the environment and can cause allergic reactions in users.
Contain scents and other chemicals
Menstrual pads contain chemicals like Xylene, Di-n-butyl phthalate, Methylene chloride, and Di-2-Ethylene phthalate, which can harm users’ health and cause irritation. Some scented menstrual pads have also been reported to change the smell of period blood and cause period rash, boils, and other skin irritation symptoms.
Bulky and don’t fit well
Many teenage girls and women have complained about their menstrual pads feeling bulky, unnatural, and shifting positions in the crotch area. While there are pads with wings, some also feel the same way, discouraging users from picking them as their go-to sanitary product.
Needs regular changing
Sanitary pads should be changed every 3 to 4 hours to maintain personal hygiene. This means users have to excuse themselves every 3-4 hours to rip off their pads and apply new ones. This disturbance can be a huge discouragement, especially during busy times.
Not so discreet
Sanitary pads or period pads often come with adhesives on the back to hold them in place. Ripping off the pad from your underwear will often make a tearing or peeling sound that announces your intentions.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Sanitation Towels
Sanitation towels have become one of the major alternatives to sanitary pads, especially for women who champion eco-friendliness and those who have suffered irritation from using menstrual pads. Sanitation towels are made from cotton, making them natural, eco-friendly, reusable, and chemical-free.
The use of sanitation towels has increased over the last couple of years. Find below the pros and cons of using sanitation towels for your menstrual needs.
Advantages of Using Sanitation Towels
Sanitation towels or reusable cloth pads are economical. Girls and women can reuse them over time, thus saving the cost of buying new packs of sanitary pads every other month when their period arrives. Sanitation towels can be used, washed, and stored for later use.
They are chemical free
Sanitation towels are made from cotton, which gives them soft fibers that are gentle on the skin. They are also chemical-free, thus saving girls and women from the common reactions and irritations to sanitary pads. Compared to sanitary pads, there have been no significant complaints of period rash or other problems using sanitation towels.
Sanitation towels are available in different sizes and are comfortable to use. They are made from natural materials like cotton or hemp, which makes them soft to the touch and comfortable to wear during periods.
Can be combined during a heavy period
Most women with heavy menstrual flow combine their sanitation towels to catch their period blood and protect themselves from staining clothes or other surfaces. This cannot be done with sanitary pads, especially because the underlayer is impermeable.
Women can also use sanitation towels in combination with other sanitary products like tampons and menstrual cups.
No foul smell
Girls and women using sanitation towels for their period needs don’t have to worry about foul smells in their crotch area during their period. This is because sanitation towels are breathable and soak up the period blood, thus minimizing the mix of sweat and blood, which aids bacteria growth as in menstrual pads.
Disadvantages of Using Sanitation Towels
Bulky to travel with
Although sanitation towels are available in different sizes, they can still be bulky to travel with. Being made from cotton, sanitation towels do not have the streamlined appearance of a sanitary pad, thus making it harder to carry them around in handbags easily.
Can be expensive
Sanitation towels can be expensive, depending on the number of towels you’re ordering for. Although they are reusable, the upfront cost of purchasing them is higher than that of a sanitary pad.
Being reusable, sanitation towels need to be washed after each use. This means users have to face the task of washing out their period blood from the material for later use. People who get irritated easily may find this disgusting.
High maintenance requirement
Sanitation towels have a high maintenance requirement, especially for girls and women who wish to maintain a clean crotch area. Users need to wash, dry, and store their sanitation towels appropriately to prevent bacteria and microorganism growth or contamination.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Tampons
Tampons are probably the second commonest women’s sanitary product. They are made from cotton, hemp, rayon, or a blend of two or more materials. Unlike sanitary pads and sanitation towels, tampons are inserted into the lady parts. The sanitary product collects blood and can be removed at intervals for change out.
Tampons can be pushed in using a finger, plastic, or cardboard applicator. They also have a string attached to the end that can be pulled to remove the sanitary product.
Advantages of Using Tampons
One of the biggest advantages of tampons is their compact size. They are handy and can be stored anywhere, whether in your purse or bag. Despite the size, they can also collect varied levels of period flow, from light to heavy flows.
Tampons are great for women on their period who wish to swim. Unlike sanitary pads and sanitation towels that soak water, tampons stop blood flow and prevents embarrassing spectacles.
Tampons, once inserted, are almost invisible. Women who use tampons don’t have to worry about the unusual bulge in their crotch region when wearing pants.
Tampons collect period blood before they leave the body, thus effectively stopping the blood from making a mess. This makes them better, hygiene-wise, as you don’t have to deal with blood stains or splatter.
No smell and better flexibility
Tampons allow you to wear any underwear, whether a thong or full underwear. In addition, you don’t have to worry about weird smells as with sanitary pads.
Disadvantages of Using Tampons
Difficult to insert
Most girls and women have complained of tampons being difficult to use. Some women also fear that it may harm their lady part or break their hymen. For these girls and women, pads and sanitation towels are a better alternative as they do not require insertion.
Tampons are not eco-friendly, especially as they are made from heavy chemicals like rayon, polypropylene, etc., that are not biodegradable. Some tampons also contain chemicals like Dioxins, pesticides, and chlorine used during the material treatment phase. These chemicals can cause health problems for girls and women.
Higher risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) happens when streptococcus bacteria develop inside the reproductive part and are absorbed into the bloodstream. Common symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, muscle pain, dehydration, etc. Using tampons exposes girls and women to this health issue.
Difficult to know when full
It is difficult for girls and women to know when their tampons are full and ready for a change. Users have to constantly keep a mental reminder to ensure they do not leak.
While it is rare, tampons can sometimes leave residue inside you. This residue can cause several health problems, from irritation to swelling, inflammation, etc.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Menstrual Cups
Menstrual cups are small, flexible cups made from rubber, latex, elastomer, or silicone. They are available in different sizes and can be inserted similarly to tampons. The main difference between a tampon and a menstrual cup is that menstrual cups collect the period blood while tampons soak it up.
Menstrual cups have many advantages, including that they are cheap and reusable. Find below the advantages and disadvantages of using menstrual cups.
Advantages of Using Menstrual Cups
Menstrual cups are cheaper to buy compared to sanitary pads and tampons. They are even more affordable compared to reusable sanitation products like sanitation towels. One menstrual cup can be used for up to a year.
Menstrual cups are reusable, making them a great option for long-time use. An average menstrual cup can be used for up to one year.
Unlike menstrual pads and sanitation towels that should be changed every 3 to 4 hours or tampons that should be changed every 5 to 6 hours, menstrual cups can be changed every 4 to 8 hours. This means you can wear them for longer with infrequent changes during the day.
Menstrual cups can catch all your period blood when inserted correctly. This means you’ll suffer fewer leaks and feel more confident about your day.
No mess or odor
Menstrual cups allow you to collect your period blood in one place, reducing the chances of a messy or foul-smelling period. If you’re concerned about the period odor from your sanitary pads, try a menstrual cup.
Disadvantages of Using Menstrual Cups
Difficult to insert
There’s a learning curve to using menstrual cups. Unlike sanitary pads and sanitation towels, girls and women may need to undergo a series of failed application stages before they get it right. Chances are high that these failed insertions and the attending stains will irritate and discourage you from using them.
Can be messy to pull out
Menstrual cups can be messy when not properly handled. Pulling the cup out can be an issue and may lead to blood splash on surfaces, creating more mess to clean up.
Incompatible with IUD
Menstrual cups can be incompatible with IUDs, a form of birth control inserted into the uterus. When not properly placed, your menstrual cup may dislodge the IUD, thus putting you at risk of unwanted pregnancy.
Increased chance of infection
Inserting anything up your lady parts increases your risk of infection. An improperly cleaned menstrual cup can expose you to infections that can compromise your health and wellness.
Some girls and women may be allergic to latex, rubber, silicone, or other materials from which their menstrual cup was made. This allergic reaction can cause problems like inflammation, redness, itchiness, etc.
That’s it for the pros and cons of the commonest sanitary products for girls and women. What has your experience been with these products?