For years, women have been told they have two period-related options: pads or tampons. Now, menstrual cups are becoming increasingly popular. Perfect for those who care about the environment and lessening the amount of time they spend in the toilet, this third option is worth looking into. Especially because a major brand has unveiled its very own design. So where can you buy the Tampax menstrual cup in the UK and what makes it so special?
Before a commotion is caused, Tampax wants everyone to know that it's well aware it hasn't invented the menstrual cup. But it does believe that it's refined the standard reusable design to create a new one that's more comfortable for women.
To come up with the Tampax Cup, the brand used over 80 years of expertise and research from hundreds of women and partnered with a female obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB-GYN). Its menstrual cup is made of 100 percent silicone and is free from any nasty dyes, perfume, and latex. "For years, I've heard from my patients about how they want to try menstrual cups, but the options available just didn't meet their needs. They didn't feel secure, put pressure on their bladders, or just were simply uncomfortable to wear," OB-GYN Dr. Megan Kessler said in a statement.
Two features make it unique in the period product market. First, its shape. The majority of menstrual cups are designed in a U or bell shape. Tampax's cup is a V shape. Why? So that less pressure is put on the bladder. "Cups tend to push up against the bladder," Tampax senior scientist Rebecca Stoebe-Latham told SheKnows. "They make it feel like you have to urinate more often. In addition to being uncomfortable, it also increases the risk of UTIs."
Secondly, Tampax's cup is shorter than other available designs. "Comparing the vaginal canal length to a lot of the cups that are currently on the market, they're way too long," Stoebe-Latham said to SheKnows. "The highest concentration of nerves is in the bottom third of the vagina, so if you have a cup that's too long, it's going to be uncomfortable the entire time you're wearing it."
Unfortunately, the Tampax Cup is currently only available in the U.S. Technically, you can pre-order it from Amazon (it'll be ready to ship from October 30) and pay for international shipping but that's costly and will take around a week to end up on your doorstep. I've contacted a representative for Tampax to ask about UK stockists but am yet to hear back. However, it's likely that the brand will release the menstrual cup in the UK in the coming months.
Tampax states that you can wear its cup for up to 12 hours. You can buy two different sizes: one for a regular flow and one for a heavy flow. There is also a starter kit comprising both sizes along with a discreet carry case and 10 wipes. Each individual cup and case combo is retailing for $39.99 in the U.S. (just over £30) with the kit selling for $54.04 (approximately £41.50).
Although menstrual cups can last for years, Tampax recommends buying a new one every 12 months. However, the brand is keen to stress that its cup is completely safe to use for longer than a year. As the Evening Standard reported, 2015 research revealed that women can expect to spend more than £18,000 on their periods during their lifetime, making that news music to any woman's ears and potentially providing a solution to period poverty.
Aside from the financial impact, tampons and sanitary pads are a huge detriment to the environment. According to the Journal of the Institution of Environmental Sciences, millions of sanitary protection items are flushed down the toilet in the UK each year. That's a hell of a lot of plastic and waste ending up on landfills.
Getting used to a menstrual cup will take time, there's no doubt about that, and tampons and pads won't be immediately banished from handbags. But seeing sanitary alternatives on supermarket shelves is something that should have happened a long time ago. At least we can thank Tampax for that.