You may have gone your entire menstrual life going back and forth between tampons and pads. While these are the most popular period products, many women face difficulties with them or just are tired of them and want to try something new. Menstrual cups, though not new on the market, are an increasingly popular option these days and they have their advantages and disadvantages.
What are Menstrual Cups?
What are menstrual cups exactly and how do you use them?
A menstrual cup is a small, funnel-shaped, flexible cup made of rubber or silicone that you insert into your vagina. It’s made to catch and collect period blood. Most menstrual cups are reusable but some do have disposable options.
The cup is made to be inserted into your vagina, much like a tampon without an applicator. Once inside, you rotate the cup and it springs open to create an airtight seal that stops leaks. To remove, you pull on the stem of the cup until you reach the base. You then pinch the base to release the seal and pull down to remove the cup. Once it’s out, empty the collected blood into a toilet or sink.
Reusable cups should be washed and wiped clean before being reinserted into your vagina. You should empty your cup at least twice a day. After your cycle is done, sterilise your cup in boiling water to ensure it’s clean for your next cycle.
Advantages of Menstrual Cups
They hold more blood than other menstrual products. A menstrual cup can hold up to one ounce of liquid. This is almost twice the amount of a super-absorbent tampon or pad. It may be a good option if you have a heavy flow.
You can wear it for up to 12 hours. Unlike tampons that pose the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) if worn for longer than 8 hours, cups can be worn for up to 12 hours depending on your flow. You can also sleep in them and not worry about getting up to change once you hit the 8-hour mark.
They are eco-friendly. Because they are reusable, menstrual cups eliminate a significant amount of waste during your cycle. This, of course, is not the same if you purchase a disposable cup. You can use one cup for up to 6 months to 10 years if you care for it properly.
It will save you money. Not only does their recyclability make them eco-friendly but it will also save you money. Instead of buying pads and tampons every month, you can buy two cups for the entire year. They are typically affordably priced as well.
Disadvantages of Menstrual Cups
It gets messy. The main disadvantage women complain about with menstrual cups is how messy it gets when emptying them. It also becomes difficult and maybe even uncomfortable to change it in a public bathroom, as you’ll have to wash it out in the sink. You may be in a position where you can't easily take it out and this may cause spills. With practice, however, many women work out a proper technique and learn how to handle them.
It may be hard to insert or remove. If you have never used a menstrual cup before you may have some discomfort trying to put it in. Lubricating your cup can make the process smoother for you as a wet rim is easier to insert. Ideally, if you can use a tampon you should be able to use a menstrual cup easily once you get the hang of it.
It may take some time to find the right fit. Menstrual cups aren’t one-size-fits-all so it may take some trial and error to find the right fit. You may consider the following when choosing the right cup size: your age, whether you have a heavy flow, firmness and flexibility of the cup and if you’ve given birth vaginally.
It may cause irritation. If your cup isn’t cared for and cleaned properly it may cause vaginal irritation. You may also face irritation