Menstrual cups v’s Cloth sanitary pads

Why have one when you can have it all? Keeping your options open with cloth sanitary pads

When it comes to the monthly visit from Aunt Flo we all have our own preference as to how we protect ourselves, and as the world moves to a more reusable mindset there are two main options, menstrual cups or cloth sanitary pads. So what are the pros and cons of each? The team here at Bloom and Nora use a mixture of both so we had a bit of sit down and pulled together our own knowledge and experiences to give you an outline of the benefits of both.

Menstrual Cups, what are they and how do they work?

The first menstrual cup was designed in 1937 by Leona Chambers from latex rubber. Nowadays they are made from medical grade silicone and they even have their own Wikipedia page:

“A menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene device that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. Its purpose is to collect menstrual fluid (blood from uterine lining) and prevent it leaking onto clothes. Menstrual cups are usually made of flexible medical grade silicone and shaped like a bell with a stem. The stem is used for insertion and removal. The bell-shaped cup seals against the vaginal wall just below the cervix. Every 4–12 hours (depending on the amount of flow), the cup is removed, emptied, rinsed, and reinserted. After each period, the cup should be boiled for at least 5 minutes and stored for use the next month.”

Using them - You squash the sides of the cup and insert much the same as you would do with a tampon. They sit inside you and collect the blood in the cup. You then remove over the loo where the blood simply falls from the cup. Wash, sterilise and reuse!


  • Waste free periods
  • Free from irritating chemicals
  • You can run, dance and swim which makes a menstrual cup great if you're planning a pool visit
  • You can leave them in for up to 12 hours
  • Saves you money, plus you're never stuck without protection from Aunt Flo
  • Last for 5-10 years


  • Messy to change especially when not at home or near a sink
  • Can be uncomfortable or hard to get the right fit
  • Not ideal for use with a coil 
  • Need to wash and sterilise before reuse
  • Can be more challenging to use after childbirth

As with cloth sanitary pads, there are many different makes on the market and they all fundamentally are designed to do the same thing, but some are definitely better than others in terms of fit, comfort and performance. Go for a well-known brand or even better, a recommendation from a friend.


Cloth sanitary pads

The pads are made from an absorbent material such as bamboo, hemp or cotton with an integral waterproof base layer that sits knicker side to stop the blood wicking onto your underwear. They are held in place with popper wings that fasten under the gusset of your pants in the same way that the sticky wings on disposables ones do.

Pros -

  • Waste free periods
  • Free from irritating chemicals
  • Comfortable and easy to fit
  • Stay put so you can dance and exercise knowing your pad has got you covered.
  • No sticky wings so no accidental waxing down below!
  • Save you money, and you are never stuck without protection from Aunt Flo.
  • Easy to change and mess-free
  • More absorbent than disposables
  • No plastic rustling in the loo
  • Last for 5-10 years depending on the brand

Cons -

  • Not swimming pool friendly
  • You need to wash your cloth pads
  • Storing when out and about
  • Larger sizes can be bulky

Which one is best?

When it comes to choosing which type of reusable sanitary protection is best for you, we’ll let you into a little secret, it's ok to use both! Even though we have our very own brand of reusable sanitary pads here at Bloom and Nora we are happy to share that that is the case here. We fall into two groups:

  • Uses cloth pads full-time
  • Uses cup when out at work and cloth at home/overnight

Loosely speaking, those of us in the team who haven't had babies tend to use cups when out at work and pads at home or overnight, whereas those of us who have had babies (usually big babies, say no more!) stick with using pads only. We use our pads at work too, we all have our little waterproof bags to store our used pads and just give them a quick rinse when we get home.

And that’s about it really. Hopefully this has explained the main differences between menstrual cups and cloth sanitary pads and is helping make the first steps towards a zero waste period

If you have any other questions about using cloth sanitary pads, do drop us a line.