EXCLUSIVE: What WOMEN WANT - Sanitary pad Vs menstrual cup Vs tampon, which is better and cheaper?

Menstrual health and hygiene: Sanitary napkins have, for decades, remained the preferred choice for Indian women of menstruating age. But with emerging options like menstrual cups and tampons, here's a comparison of the advantage and disadvantages of each, and a look at their average cost.

  • Nowadays, doctors advise women to opt for menstrual cups which are eco-friendly and hygienic
  • Sanitary napkins remain a favourite especially because it's very easy to use
  • Disposal of tampons and sanitary napkins is not eco-friendly

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EXCLUSIVE: What WOMEN WANT - Sanitary pad Vs menstrual cup Vs tampon, which is better and cheaper? The younger generation is far more willing to experiment with women's hygiene products

Women's Health: For decades, menstruation or periods have been a hush-hush topic. But as awareness on women's hygiene grow, and with increasing exposure, people, especially in urban India, have started talking more openly about periods. When it comes to products related to women's health and hygiene, sanitary napkins have always been the preferred choice. But the eco-friendly menstrual cup or the convenient tampon are increasingly finding favours with young women. So which one is better: menstrual cups, sanitary napkins or tampons? Dr Sneha Rajiv,  Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, SPARSH Hospital, Bengaluru, speaks to Zee News Digital about the three, their pros and cons, and which one one should opt for. 

Menstrual cups


Nowadays, doctors advise women to opt for menstrual cups. Menstrual cups are mainly eco-friendly and user-friendly. Women of all age groups can use this product and are available in different sizes (small, medium, and large). Initially, it is just a matter of learning how to insert the cup and once you are comfortable with it, it is quite easy, says Dr Sneha Rajiv. She adds that women can perform all day-to-day activities, play a sport, swim etc without worrying about leakage. The first few uses might be tricky and difficult but once used to it, the possibility of leakages also becomes nil.


Patients prone to recurrent vaginal infections or patients with repeated fungal infections need to make sure they sterilize the menstrual cup thoroughly before and after. Infections can worsen if they fail to sterilize the cup.


  • Proper sanitization/ sterilization before and after usage of the cup
  • Discard blood depending on your flow. It can range between once in 4 or 12 hours
  • Timely removal and reinsertion of the cup are important
  • No need to clean it with an antiseptic liquid, cleaning the cup with boiling water is sufficient. (Immerse the cup for 5-10 mins in boiling water)

Also read: Exclusive - Is it safe to have sex during periods? Can you get pregnant? What experts say

Sanitary napkins


  • Very easy to use
  • The usage of pads is very comfortable
  • It does not require skilled practice like menstrual cups. Normal training is sufficient


  • It is not eco-friendly
  • Risk of rashes


  • Change pads every 3-4 hours once. Change pads depending on the flow of blood
  • The usage of cotton pads is recommended for women who are prone to rashes while using certain brands of pads. The risk of rashes is less with cotton pads.



Tampons are little cotton plugs that are made to absorb menstrual blood. It is inserted in the vagina and has a string attached that makes it easy to remove.


If tampons are forgotten in the vagina it can lead to toxic shock syndrome (infection caused by Staphylococcus bacteria)
The disposal is not eco-friendly


Just like in menstrual cups, insertion and removal depend on the flow of blood. It can range from once in 4 to 12 hours.

Busting myth about sanitary hygiene products

It's a myth that depending on your period flow, you need to choose your type of sanitary product. Dr Sneha Rajiv says that the blood flow does not have a correlation when it comes to the usage of the type of products (tampons, cups, pads). The only thing to be kept in mind is the frequency of changing or disposal depending on the blood flow.

The better choice

According to Dr Sneha Rajiv, "The younger generation is curious and open to new learning techniques. Teenagers prefer the usage of menstrual cups over sanitary pads or tampons. Women above the age of 40 years find it difficult to understand the mechanism and usage of the menstrual cup due to traditional thought processes. Menstrual cups are also eco-friendly, last for a long time, are budget-friendly, and are comfortable. Hence, the younger generation prefers it and chooses menstrual cups in a change in trends."

Sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups - the cost factor

Sanitary pads: According to a report in BMC Public Health, a pack of 10 sanitary napkins in India currently costs around Rs 30–40. In 2019, to make women's hygiene products for all, the government slashed the price of sanitary napkins at Jan Aushadhi stores to Re 1. There are of course expensive brands where a pack of 50 napkins can cost over Rs 600.

Menstrual cups: You can buy menstrual cups online for Rs 200-250. While it may seem a lot for one cup (as against one pad), remember they are reusable and can last for years. So in reality, they are far more budget-friendly.

Tampons: Like sanitary pads and cups, there are many brands available in the market. A 20-piece pack can cause anywhere between Rs 250-350 on average, and the prices can go up as per quality.  

Note: These are average prices and are not based on market surveys. The prices of each vary according to product quality and brands.