Pleh. I am getting kind of uncomfortable thinking about putting either of those in my mouth, but I'd prefer the silicone one that didn't absorb my spit, dry out my mouth, and leave little tufts of cotton left over. One of those things is like a tampon.
Normally tampons stay out of my life and don't bother me. But this intimidating little girl at camp got me kind of riled up. Now I feel compelled to explain why.
#1: TimingRelated to the cotton ball metaphor above, if you take a tampon out too soon, it's dry and kind of uncomfortable. If you leave it in too long, it's, uh, more moist, but more likely to have leaked. You're not supposed to leave them in for more than 8 hours, so you should need to change it right before bed, both to avoid scary-sounding "toxic shock syndrome" and to avoid leakage in the night. It's like a perpetual optimization you have to solve in your head for some number of days every month for many many many years of your life.
#2: DisposalYou can NOT flush them down the toilet, despite what the packaging says. So you put them in the trash. It's just kinda gross and wasteful. I've heard of dogs eating tampons out of the trash but I have never had a dog while also having a period.
#3: SuppliesThey make different sizes of tampons because of reason #1 and people having different amounts of flow during different times. You have to buy and keep on hand all the different sizes you could possibly need. They all cost money -- part of the lady tax. They make different kinds with different materials, different applicators, different expanding/absorbing patterns. It's up to you to buy them, experimentally put them in your body, and figure out which ones work for you. Then the brands get all new and modern and change on you. You know how you find a favorite cereal/deodorant/shoes and buy it a lot and use it a lot and then suddenly they CHANGE IT or STOP MAKING IT altogether? It's devastating, but especially so when it's a product for your fucking vagina. I am still bitter at Tampax for eliminating the cardboard "satin tip" applicators.
Lifehack: menstrual cupGetting one of these was like entering the fucking enlightenment. It solves all of the problems above. You can wear it for ~12 hours straight, for light days and heavy days. It doesn't leak at all, if you've put it in right. You change it when you fucking want to change it, like when you're taking a shower. You dump the blood down the drain. You reuse it. You wash it out and boil it to sterilize it. You buy ONE and use it until you lose it or melt it or your pet destroys it (I've only read about this) or you feel bad about not giving the company more business. I bought my diva cup over 8 years ago (at the Herb Room in Santa Cruz because I was a hippie college student) and it's still going strong. I have avoided the use of over ~1,000 tampons.
The two downsides of menstrual cups are that a) people find them even creepier to hear about than tampons and b) the learning curve is a bit steep, and if you put it in wrong, it's failure mode is pretty catastrophic, like it's not even there.