Menstrual Hygiene Products Comparison

Tampons, menstrual cups, pads, period underwear… Which is best?

The four most common menstrual hygiene products. Tampons, menstrual cups, pads and period underwear. But which one is best? And why?

Keep reading to find out more about each product and their impact on the environment, your wallet and your body.


First up, tampons

Most of us are familiar with tampons. They’re very convenient, disposable and easy to use (once you get the hang of it). Tampons are a simple and easy choice when it comes to menstrual products.

For those living in developing countries, where access and resources are limited, tampons are a true lifesaver and offer a cheap and discreet method for managing their periods.

Environmental impact

Unfortunately, this straightforward solution can have a significant impact on the environment.

Due to the makeup of tampons and their applicators, which often contain plastic, they contribute largely to waste on our planet and in our oceans. In 2015, The Ocean Conservancy collected over 27,000 used tampons and applicators found on beaches in just one single day.

Although they are a fantastic option for many around the world, when it comes to the environmental aspect, tampons are perhaps not the most sustainable period product.

Economics of a period

In terms of cost, a box of tampons isn’t going to break the bank. But tampons can start to get expensive when you add up the monthly cost.

It’s been found that the average individual will spend over $1,000 on tampons in their whole lifetime. This is a point worth considering if you are thinking of switching to another type of period product for economic reasons.

Your health is your wealth

Just like with any menstrual product, there can be some health issues associated with using tampons.

Some tampons can contain chemicals and substances that can throw off your natural balance. However, recently there has been a development of more sustainable tampons with biodegradable packaging and unbleached organic cotton. This is a great alternative to conventional tampons.

Although for some, the health aspect associated with tampons is too important to overlook and can be one of the deciding factors between tampons vs. menstrual cups vs. pads vs. period underwear.


Menstrual cups

The next product we have is the menstrual cup. Unlike tampons and pads, menstrual cups collect blood rather than absorb it. But how does that compare against the other menstrual hygiene products?

Environmental impact

Menstrual cups have been around for years but have recently gained popularity as a sustainable way to manage periods.

Since the AllMatters cup material has been tested to last up to 10 years, there is potential to reduce the use of up to 2,400 tampons and their associated packaging per use. This is a good option to choose if you are looking to reduce your individual environmental impact.

With the AllMatters cup, the packaging is kept to a complete minimal. The box itself is made from recycled cardboard, and the instructions are printed on the inside, reducing waste and eliminating the need for plastic.

Money, money, money!

There’s no denying that the initial purchase price of a menstrual cup is more expensive than a box of disposable tampons and pads.

Disposable tampons and pads are cheap in comparison to a menstrual cup, but you will have to buy them every month, whereas a menstrual cup can last several years.

Using a menstrual cup every menstrual cycle is significantly cheaper than using disposable tampons and pads. It was found that menstrual cups are only 5% of the cost of pads and only 7% of the cost of tampons.

Cups are a reliable and sustainable option for many. This is especially important for those who are in low-income families or developing countries, where period poverty is prevalent.

Want to know more about the AllMatters cup’s societal impact? Check out our page here.

100% biocompatibility

With the AllMatters cup, the cup itself is made from 100% medical-grade silicone that is completely safe to wear inside the body.

The cup is also free from any known allergens and is registered with The Vegan Society. The silicone does not contain any hazardous chemicals, dyes or toxins.


The next menstrual hygiene product in the tampons vs. menstrual cups vs. pads vs. period underwear comparison is pads. Many are familiar with pads, as they are often the first-ever period product that we use. Pads are straightforward, non-invasive and quick.

Environmental and health impact

Many disposable pads and their packaging contain plastic which usually ends up in our landfills.

The disposable pads themselves are commonly made up of synthetic fibres, which is why it takes them a long time to break down and degrade.

One study found that there is around 36g of plastic in every pack of pads. That’s around 5 plastic carrier bags per package of pads.

In addition, some pads can contain chemicals and substances like rayon and dioxide. When these substances sit in landfills, they get soaked into the earth and are released, thus polluting groundwater sources and the air around us.

The environmental impact of using disposable pads can be significant, which is perhaps something to consider when comparing tampons vs. menstrual cups vs. pads vs. period underwear.

The price of a period

In terms of price, pads are usually priced at the same level as tampons. And just like tampons, they are an affordable monthly expense.

If you are looking for an even more affordable and sustainable option, you could look into reusable pads or other reusable menstrual products.

Period underwear

Period underwear is the newest reusable and sustainable innovation in the menstrual products universe. The underwear looks like a normal pair of underwear but features a highly absorbent lining on the inside.

This lining prevents leaks and wicks away any moisture, keeping you comfortable and dry.

Period underwear is reusable and can easily be washed in hand. Afterwards, you simply hang them to dry.

Environmental and economic impact

Period underwear is certainly an innovation in sustainable period products. The underwear is usually made from a polyester fabric that is super absorbent and can be easily washed and reused.

With period underwear, there is no disposable aspect and very little plastic packaging. Therefore, there is a lot less impact on the environment.

For pricing, period underwear can be on the higher end of the menstrual hygiene product budget, depending on the brand.

A great alternative

Many period underwear brands have developed their own super absorbent material that has zero chemicals or toxins. This is a great feature for both the environment and for users of period underwear.

The only small downside to period underwear is that they are not the most discreet method of managing your period.

Although designed to look like ordinary underwear, they can be a little more noticeable than your usual delicate, dainty underpants.

Tampons vs. menstrual cups vs. pads vs. period underwear – which is best?

So, which menstrual product is the best? Disposable tampons and pads contribute significantly to environmental pollution, although they do provide many around the world with an easy and cheap way to manage their periods.

In terms of the most sustainable and most environmentally friendly products, the two best options are menstrual cups and period underwear.

These two products have the least impact on landfills and the environment and are two great sustainable options.

If you do want a more discreet way of managing your period, then maybe menstrual cups are the most suitable choice for you.

With menstrual cups, there are no tell-tale signs that you’re on your period, but if you are not comfortable with inserting a menstrual cup, period underwear is a reliable, environmentally friendly, and sustainable option that is worth considering for your next cycle.

Want to learn more about the AllMatters cup? Find out how it works here.