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Thursday, December 15, 2022

Period Protection: Menstrual Cups and Period Underwear


By Dr. Robert Wool


When “Auntie Flo” comes calling, you now have more options than ever for how to respond. Most women are familiar with pads and tampons, but we’ve had questions from patients about two newer period protection options: menstrual cups and period underwear. Here, we break down the pros and cons of each.


Menstrual Cups

A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup that you insert into your vagina to collect your period blood. You pull it out to empty and clean it.



·         The cup can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, unlike pads or tampons that need to be changed every few hours.

·         You can use the same cup no matter how heavy your flow is, so you don’t have to use different products for lighter and heavier days.

·         The same menstrual cup can be cleaned and reused for years, saving you a lot of money on feminine hygiene products.

·         Because it’s reusable, the cup is more earth friendly than disposable period protection options.



·         There is a small learning curve around insertion, removal and cleaning when you first start using a menstrual cup.

·         If your period starts unexpectedly while you’re away from home, you may not have your cup with you.

·         When away from home, you may need to empty and clean the cup in a public bathroom, which is off putting for some women.


Period Underwear

Period underwear are designed to be worn in place of regular underwear. They are made of a moisture-wicking, antimicrobial fabric that absorbs your period flow.


·         Depending on their capacity and your flow, period underwear can be worn up to 12 hours and hold between one and two tampons worth of flow. Most tampons hold about 5 milliliters of fluid, and most periods produce about 30 milliliters of fluid in total each month.

·         If you have a heavy flow, the underwear can be worn along with a pad, tampon or cup for an extra layer of protection.

·         Each pair of can last for years, making this is another environmentally friendly option.

·         They can be hand or machine washed and air dried.



·         Period underwear are more expensive than a menstrual cup and you will need several pairs. (However, if you use them instead of pads and tampons, you will likely still realize a cost savings over time.)

·         There may be some trial and error until you find the underwear that works best for you in terms of fit and capacity.

·         If your period starts unexpectedly while you are away from home, you may not have the underwear with you.

·         There is a hassle factor if your flow is heavy and you will be away from home for a while. You may need to bring a backup pair of period underwear and a plastic bag to hold the pair you remove.


Personalized Period Protection

Your menstrual flow changes over time, so the period protection you prefer may change as well. When used as directed, both the menstrual cup and period underwear provide safe, effective and environmentally friendly protection that can be used alone or as a supplement to pads and tampons.


As always, our providers are happy to answer your questions, address concerns and provide expert guidance. Reach out if you’d like to schedule an appointment.