Firstly, What Is a Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable female hygiene product. It’s a tiny, flexible funnel-mold cup made out of rubber or silicone that you plug into your vagina to grab and collect the fluids from your menstruation.
These cups can accommodate more blood than all other methods, causing a handful of women to use them as an eco-friendly alternative to tampons. And depending on your flow, you can wear a cup for up to 12 hours, huge right?
The available brands of reusable cups include the Lunette Menstrual Cup, DivaCup, Keeper Cup, Moon Cup, Lily Cup and Lena Cup. There are also some few disposable menstrual cups on the market, such as the Instead Softcup.
Continue reading to know more about how to insert and remove a menstrual cup, how to wash it, and more.
How do I use a menstrual cup?
If using a menstrual cup is something you want to try, consult with your gynecologist. Though you can buy any of the brands online or in physical stores around, you’ll first need to find out what size fits you. Many menstrual cup brands sell small and large sizes.
To be sure of the right menstrual cup size for you, you and your doctor should consider:
- your age
- length of your cervix
- whether or not you have a heavy flow
- firmness and flexibility of the cup
- cup capacity
- strength of your pelvic floor muscles
- if you’ve given birth vaginally
Smaller menstrual cups are typically recommended for women not older than 30, who haven’t given birth vaginally. bigger sizes are often recommended for women who are more than 30 years old, have given birth vaginally, or experience a heavier period.
What to do before you insert your menstrual cup
Using a menstrual cup for the first time may feel uncomfortable. But “lubricating” your cup can make the process smooth. Before you put in your cup, lubricate the rim with water or a water-based lube (lubricant). A wet menstrual cup is much easier to insert.
How do I put in a menstrual cup?
If you can insert a tampon, you should find it seemingly easy to insert a menstrual cup. Just follow the steps below to use a cup:
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Apply water or a water-based lube to the rim of the cup.
- Tightly fold the menstrual cup in half, holding it in one hand with the rim facing up.
- Insert the cup, rim up, into your vagina like you would a tampon without an applicator. It should sit a few inches below your cervix.
- Once the cup is in your vagina, rotate it. It will spring open to create an airtight seal that stops leaks.
You wouldn’t feel your menstrual cup if you’ve inserted the cup properly. You should also be able to move, jump, sit, stand, and do other regular activities without your cup falling out. If you’re having trouble putting in your cup, speak with your doctor.
When to remove your menstrual cup
You can have on a menstrual cup for 6 to 12 hours, depending on whether or not you have a heavy flow. This means you can use a cup for 24hrs protection.
You should always remove your menstrual cup by the 12-hour mark. If it becomes full before then, you’ll have to empty it ahead of schedule to avoid leaks.
How to take your menstrual cup out
To remove a menstrual cup, just follow these steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Place your index finger and thumb into your vagina. Pull the stem of the cup gently until you can reach the base.
- Pinch the base to release the seal and pull down to remove the cup.
- Once it’s out, empty the cup into the sink or toilet.
Reusable menstrual cups must be washed and wiped clean before being reinserted into your vagina. Your cup should be emptied at least twice a day.
Reusable menstrual cups are durable and can last for 6 months to 10 years with proper care. Throw away disposable cups after removal.
Are there advantages of using menstrual cups?
Yes, in fact there are many advantages to using a menstrual cup over tampons and pads.
A menstrual cup
- is affordable
- is safer than tampons
- holds more blood than pads or tampons
- is better for the environment than pads or tampons
- can’t be felt during sex (some brands)
- can be worn with an IUD
Many women choose to use menstrual cups because:
- They’re budget friendly. You pay a one-time price for a reusable menstrual cup, unlike tampons or pads, which have to be continually bought and can cost upward of $100 a year.
- Menstrual cups are safer. Because menstrual cups collect rather than absorb blood, you’re not at risk of getting toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare bacterial infection associated with tampon use.
- Menstrual cups hold more blood. A menstrual cup can hold about one to two ounces of menstrual flow. Tampons, on the other hand, can only hold up to a third of an ounce.
- They’re eco-friendly. Reusable menstrual cups can last a long time, which means you’re not contributing more waste to the environment.
- You can have sex. Most reusable cups need to be taken out before you have sex, but the soft disposable ones can stay in while you get intimate. Not only will your partner not feel the cup, you also won’t have to worry about leaks.
- You can wear a cup with an IUD. Some companies claim a menstrual cup could dislodge an IUD, but a 2012 study debunked that belief. If you’re concerned, though, check with your doctor about using a menstrual cup.
What are the disadvantages of using menstrual cups?
A menstrual cup
- can be messy
- may be hard to insert or remove
- may be tough to find the right fit
- may cause an allergic reaction
- may cause vaginal irritation
Menstrual cups may be an affordable and environmentally friendly option, but you still need to keep a few things in mind:
- Cup removal can be messy. You may find yourself in a place or position that makes it difficult or awkward to remove your cup. That means you may not be able to avoid spills during the process.
- They can be tough to insert or remove. You may find that you’re not getting the right fold when you put in your menstrual cup. Or you may have a hard time pinching the base to pull the cup down and out.
- It can be hard to find the right fit. Menstrual cups aren’t one-size-fits-all, so you may find it difficult to find the right fit. That means you may have to try out a few brands before finding the perfect one for you and your vagina.
- You may be allergic to the material. Most menstrual cups are made from latex-free materials, making it a great option for people with latex allergies. But for some people, there’s a chance the silicone or rubber material can cause an allergic reaction.
- It may cause vaginal irritation. A menstrual cup may irritate your vagina if the cup isn’t cleaned and cared for properly. It may also cause discomfort if you insert the cup without any lubrication.
- There can be an increased chance for infection. Wash the menstrual cup very well. Rinse and let it dry. Don’t reuse a disposable menstrual cup. Wash your hands after.
How much does it cost?
Menstrual cups are more cost-effective than tampons and pads. You can pay, on average, $20 to $40 for a cup and not have to purchase another one for at least six months. Tampons and pads can cost an average of $50 to $150 a year, depending on how long and heavy your period is and how often you have your period.
Like tampons and pads, menstrual cups aren’t covered by insurance plans or Medicaid, so using a cup would be an out-of-pocket expense.
Choosing the right feminine hygiene product for you
For many women, using a menstrual cup is a no-brainer. Before you make the switch, make sure you know what you need in a feminine hygiene product:
- Will a cup cost you less?
- Is it easier to use?
- Do you want to have sex during your period?
If you positively answered these questions, then the menstrual cup is fit for you. But if you’re still not sure, talk with your gynecologist about your options and what menstrual product may work best for you.