Traditional feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads are still the most commonly used options amongst women during their menstrual cycle. However, there are alternatives, such as the menstrual cup, that has risen in popularity.
What is a Menstrual Cup?
Menstrual cups are a feminine hygiene product intended for internal use, similar to a tampon, to collect menstrual fluid. Most commonly made of silicone or latex rubber, the cup is bell-shaped and some have a stem for easier insertion and removal. There are both reusable and disposable models on the market. Reusable cups can last several years with proper care. There are several brands, many available at major retailers, offering different sizes based on age and whether you have previously given birth.
How Do Menstrual Cups Work?
Unlike a tampon or pad, cups do not absorb menstrual flow, but collect it. The cup is inserted into the vagina and needs to be folded or pinched to insert. It may need to be adjusted to secure it. Once inserted properly, the cup creates a seal against the vaginal walls to prevent leakage.
If the cup has a stem, it should be completely inserted into the vagina. If the cup is placed correctly, it should be comfortable and there should not be any leakage. Depending on how heavy your menstrual flow is and the size and type of cup, it will need to be emptied every 4 to 12 hours. For removal, the base of the cup needs to be pinched to break the seal and the cup should be pulled out by the base and/or stem.
How to Care for a Menstrual Cup
Since menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone or latex, they are easy to keep clean. Clear directions for care should accompany the cup when it is purchased. In general, when being used during the menstrual cycle, the cup can simply be rinsed or wiped clean before reinserting. At the end of your cycle, menstrual cups should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water. They can also be sterilized in boiling water.
What are the Benefits of a Menstrual Cup?
There are health, financial and environmental benefits to using a menstrual cup in place of tampons or pads.
Menstrual cups are reusable, making them a more environmentally friendly option.
Menstrual cups are more affordable if used long-term. While the initial cost may be high, they can be used for years, removing the monthly costs for feminine hygiene products.
Menstrual cups holds more menstrual fluid than tampons and pads, meaning they do not need to be changed as frequently.
Menstrual cups are odor-free. Menstrual blood that is exposed to air often has an unpleasant odor, which is avoided when a menstrual cup is used.
Are There Any Cons To Using A Menstrual Cup?
There are also some downsides to using a menstrual cup. However, most are learning curves and after a cycle or two, most women prefer them over tampons and pads.
Menstrual cups can be messy when removing and spills are possible.
Menstrual cups may be challenging to wash in certain locations such as public restrooms, where there is a lack of privacy.
Menstrual cups require maintenance. You can’t just dispose of them after use.
Menstrual cups sometimes require some time to find the right fit. As a result, there could be some initial discomfort or leakage. If you suffer from painful periods to begin with, depending on the cause, you may find menstrual cups too uncomfortable.
Menstrual cups are easy to use for most women but some may find them difficult to insert and/or remove.