Menstrual cups are a very hygienic alternative to the other products that women use during their menstrual cycles. This article explores the advantages of menstrual cups and what makes them superior to pads and tampons.
A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped device that is inserted into the vagina and sits just around the opening of the cervix so that the menstrual blood flows directly into the cup.
Menstrual blood is composed of the endometrial lining that is shed every month following ovulation when conception does not occur. This also happens in cases where ovulation does not occur and in such cases they are known as anovulatory cycles, which is commonly seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Menstrual cups are usually made of medical grade silicone. Both are tested to avoid any allergies and are made following stringent guidelines. Silicone cups are more durable and firm in texture making them less likely to get detached especially in women with strong pelvic floor muscles. They are also better suited for exercising. They can be boiled in water to sterilize them.
The type of cup that one needs depends on whether you have given birth or not. Women who have undergone vaginal childbirth usually need a cup with a larger diameter at the rim since their cervix is usually of a greater diameter. Also, the position of the cervix will affect the size of the cup that you need. Women with a higher positioned cervix can use a longer sized cup than those with a lower positioned cervix.
Now let us look at the advantages of using menstrual cups:
1. Safe and hygienic - It is made of high-quality medical grade silicone and unlike pads and tampons, they do not have plastic or chemical components.
2. No risk of rashes or bacterial infection - Tampons can cause toxic shock syndrome if not changed every four to six hours.
3. Compact - Menstrual cups can be sterilized and stored in a pouch.
4. Reusable - It can be washed, sterilized, and reused. A menstrual cup can be used for five years and up to 10 years if used with care.
5. Economical - It is a one-time investment. It saves the money spent on buying pads and tampons every month.
6. Environment-friendly - Disposal of pads and tampons adds to the waste produced, adversely affecting the environment. Menstrual cups only require flushing of the menstrual blood.
7. Convenient - They are comfortable once you get the hang of how to place them and better suited for outdoor activities and exercise. You can also let them in place for up to 12 hours.
So ladies, switch to a menstrual cup if you have not already, and experience the freedom!
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- Make sure your hands and the menstrual cup are clean.
- Lubricate the cup with water or water-based lubricant.
- Squeeze and compress the cup to flatten it.
- Fold in half into a “c” shape.
- You can insert it in the folded position at a 45-degree angle to the spine inside your vaginal opening below the cervix, either in a standing, squatting, or lying position.
- Once the whole cup goes in entirely, you can release your hands, and it will unwind to create a seal.
- Slightly rotate and pull to check if the suction has been established successfully.
Once menstrual cups are inserted into the vaginal canal, a tight seal is established between the tissues below the cervix and the circular rim of the cup through a suction, thereby preventing the leakage of blood.
Menstrual cups do not leak unless it is of the wrong size, improperly inserted without the creation of suction, or full.
Menstrual cups are harmless. But if they are maintained clean or used for extended periods than recommended at a stretch, they might increase the risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome.
Menstrual cups do not cause pain, but they may cause slight discomfort or irritation if you use an ill-fitting cup or have not lubricated the cup before insertion.
Menstrual cups are not messy; however, beginners might feel so due to the lack of practice to insert and remove them. Sometimes spillage of its contents can happen during the removal, or they may leak and soil your underwear if improperly inserted.
Since menstrual cups becoming full cannot be felt, it is always advised to remove them every 3 or 4 hours and check how full the cup is if you are a beginner. Based on the level and time taken to get filled, you can calculate how frequently your cup gets full. On average, women empty a full cup once every 4 or 6 to 12 hours during a heavy period.
Menstrual cups can be used both during the day and at night during sleep safely. Make sure you empty the cup once before bedtime and use it. Usually, you can use a cup at a stretch for 12 hours before emptying it. However, the time may vary depending on the period flow.
It is always better to start with a small-sized cup for beginners as large or medium cups can cause slight discomfort. It might take some time, and you can move to sizes that fit you best with practice. It is also advised that you wear a pantyliner to avoid soiling.
Menstrual cups are reusable, while pads are disposable. Hence multiple pads will be needed for a period. Menstrual cups are a one-time investment, while pads need to be frequently bought hence increased expenditure. Cups are comfortable and allow us to perform physical activities with ease and without leaking. Menstrual cups are superior in many aspects, but some women find it uncomfortable to insert.
There are no standardized sizes of menstrual cups in the market. Hence it is essential to determine the position of your cervix to get a correct fitting cup—some advice on inserting your finger into the vaginal canal to determine the cervix position. In general, women aged below 30, teen girls, and those who have not given birth through the birth canal are advised to try small-sized cups, and all other women may try medium and large sizes based on their cervix position.
Menstrual cups last long, up to five years or even more. However, doctors advise changing your cups once every one or two years.
Menstrual cups do not cause infertility. They just collect the uterine blood flow.
Oversized cups and unclean cups irritate the cervix. Otherwise, they do not cause any irritation or discomfort.
Menstrual cups do not reach above the cervix. They lie just below the cervix. The cervix resists the cup’s further entry; hence you do not have to panic. A tightly sealed cup might make you feel the cup is placed high.
- Clean your hands with warm water and soap.
- You can either stand, squat or lie down.
Pull the stem (that part of the cup that protrudes through your vaginal opening) slightly.
- Insert your index finger around the base of the cup and pinch it slightly to release the seal.
- Once the suction has been released, the cup can be removed easily without any resistance.
- Empty the contents into the toilet and wash the cup thoroughly.
Though there are no proven studies, many women report having shorter duration periods after using menstrual cups.
Clean it thoroughly with water after emptying the content in between your period. If you want to soap it, make sure you use unscented and pH-balanced soaps or cleansers. Once your period ends, you can sterilize it by immersing it in a container with boiling water. Care must be taken to prevent the cup from touching the container’s bottom, or else it would burn the product. You can also rinse it with diluted vinegar (one part vinegar and nine parts water). Avoid scented soaps, antibacterial soaps, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, detergents, etc. Dry it thoroughly and store it in a clean, dry place.
Last reviewed at:
04 Oct 2021 - 2 min read
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