Tampax is getting in the menstrual cup game. Starting today, the company known for tampons is launching their first-ever reusable product.
Based on current clinical research, online reviews and feedback from menstruators, Tampax couldn't ignore the increasing popularity of less-traditional period products and decided to make the move into this space. Development on the Tampax Cup began a little more than two years ago, Rebecca Stoebe-Latham, a senior scientist with Tampax, tells SheKnows.
How is this cup different?
Upon first glance, this cup appears to be relatively similar to those on the market, but Stoebe-Latham, a biomedical engineer, notes that there are two key differences. The first is that it's shorter than most of the other cups currently available.
"Comparing the vaginal canal length to a lot of the cups that are currently on the market, they’re way too long," she explains. "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."
The other difference is that it's in more of a V shape, whereas most other cups on the market are in a U shape or bell shape, Stoebe-Latham says. The goal with this shape was to reduce how much the cup pushes up on the bladder.
"Early on, we had women wear cups, and we took some MRIs, so we saw really clearly how cups shift the organs a little bit and what it looks like when it’s inside," she explains. "One of the things that we saw that was also reflected in the reviews was that cups tend to push up against the bladder. They make it feel like you have to urinate more often. In addition to being uncomfortable, it also increases the risk of UTIs."
Choosing the right size
The Tampax Cup comes in two sizes. Unlike some of the existing cups that use age and whether or not you've given birth to help you decide which cup to use, Stoebe-Latham says that the Tampax version goes by the heaviness of your flow.
She recommends that people with a heavy flow start with the larger cup and those with a lighter flow start with the smaller cup. It’s also possible both cups will fit well and be comfortable for someone, and they may opt to switch back and forth between the two based on when they’re having lighter or heavier days of their period.
In addition to both cups, the starter kit comes with a carrying case and 10 cleansing wipes, which can be used on the vulva or to clean the cup. Stoebe-Latham says many of the people they spoke to during the development process indicated that when they’re using a public bathroom, they’ll frequently use toilet paper to clean their cup but noticed it doesn’t really get clean and also leaves lint on it from the toilet paper.
They recommend you switch the cup every year, but Stoebe-Latham notes that it’s perfectly safe to use it past that point, but the cup does tend to discolor and develop a biofilm. The cups are made of 100 percent medical-grade silicone and are BPA-free, latex-free, dye-free and perfume-free.
Of course, Tampax didn't invent the menstrual cup. The first patent for a cup was filed in 1935 by Leona W. Chalmers, a former actor who wanted to find a more convenient way to deal with her period after finding it difficult to manage it during her hectic performance schedule, Pacific Standard reports. Though menstrual cups still haven't become as mainstream as pads or tampons, they have been increasingly visible over the past two decades thanks to companies like DivaCup, UltuCup, EverCup, Casco Cup, Lunette, Luna Cup, EvaCup, Ziggy Cup and Flex.
Tampax is, however, the first of the major mainstream period product brands to have a menstrual cup hit the shelves. Though it's unclear whether loyal pad and tampon users will make the switch, having more options and having these options be increasingly visible is a step in the right direction.