As women, we have to go through a monthly rite of passage in our bodies to mark the end of a cycle. During our menstrual cycle, we sieve through several products like sanitary pads, tampons, cups, underwear in a short period. Not only that, the experience might be uncomfortable with pain, mood swings, malaise, bloating, and among others taking center stage.
Over time many methods and products have been created and used to help women glide through the monthly event as easily as possible. Falling into the category of emerging crops of products is the menstrual cup.
Often I have heard women complain about heavy flows that pads and tampons can’t handle and would love better alternatives. Now there is such an alternative; the menstrual cup. Not only are the cups affordable, but they are also safe and environmentally friendly.
If you are a woman who is looking for something else outside a pad or tampon, you should try a menstrual cup. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about it or what it does, we will be answering every possible you need to know before buying a menstrual cup.
Before making a buying decision, you need to be armed with necessary information on menstrual cups, the types, and their functions. We would be delving into the enlightening part of menstrual cups in this section.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a feminine product used to maintain the hygiene of a woman. It is a funnel-shaped device that can be inserted into the vagina during menstruation. A menstrual cup is small, flexible, and made out of silicone to catch and collect period fluid.
Menstrual cups are inserted like a tampon but without an applicator. You are meant to fold the cup tightly and insert it into your vagina just before your period starts. Natural once inserted, the cup will spring open and rest on the walls of the vagina. A menstrual cup can collect more fluid than any other feminine hygiene product; lasting up to 12 hours per cup-wear.
Why do I need a menstrual cup?
If you are the type that experiences heavy flow during your cycle, a menstrual cup is a good alternative to switch to. It can be worn for up to 12 hours without the need to change. Once it’s placed incorrectly, you won’t feel any inconvenience in your day-to-day activities.
You will also be saving a lot of money with a menstrual cup. The money used in purchasing sanitary pads and tampons month after month will be used for other things. Once you buy a menstrual cup you can use it for years. They also help to prevent infections, as they are made in a unique way where they don’t collect germs.
Another reason why you need a menstrual cup is the fact that it is eco-friendly. You can reuse the silicone and prevent plastic pollution and waste. You are sure to be protected and with menstrual cups.
How is a menstrual cup designed?
Menstrual cups have been in existence since the 1930s but didn’t gain mainstream popularity until the 1980s. From then till now, menstrual cups have come in different shapes, materials, and colors. But the normal shape of a menstrual cup is a bell-shaped device with a narrow stem at the bottom. The stem is used to remove the cup once full.
The menstrual cup is made from silicone or latex rubber to allow it to bend easily during insertion and not cause discomfort once worn. Most of the menstrual cups come with two punctured holes at the top. This allows air to enter the cup easily, going back to its original shape once inserted in the vagina.
The cups also come in different sizes to take in heavier or wider flow. They are also shaped to fit the sizes of women’s cervix length, taking into consideration those who have given birth and those who haven’t.
What are menstrual cups made of?
As mentioned earlier, menstrual cups are made of silicone or latex rubber, or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). These materials are sometimes colored with food coloring and can be available on the market in different colors. These materials are the best because they offer flexibility in insertion and removal, and are also long-lasting.
Unlike tampons which could have irritating compounds and allergens, menstrual cups are very safe. They are made to give comfort to the wearer and also her vaginal wall or flora. They cause less itchiness, dryness, and any release of material particles.
How do you use a menstrual cup?
Using a menstrual cup for the first time may seem complex, but it is simple and straightforward once you get the hang of it. The first thing you have to do is get the right cup size that would be most comfortable for you. This is determined by many factors including the size of your cervix, your age, cup capacity, heavy flow, and if you have given birth or not.
Before you insert, it is best to lubricate the cup rim with water or a water-based lubricant to help the cup slip easily through the walls. Your hands must also be thoroughly washed and cleaned to avoid bacteria getting in.
The next thing you do is to fold the cup in half or in a shape that is easy for insertion. Then you insert the cup with the rim facing up like you would a tampon. The stem should not be more than one inch below the cervix, to enable easy extraction. When the cup is fitted in, it will release itself back to its original shape. But you might have to rotate it to release. And an airtight seal is formed in place.
If properly fitted, you wouldn’t be able to feel the cup in place. You can carry out your normal activities, even if they are strenuous like exercise.
Taking the cup out
A menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours, depending on your flow. You can use it for overnight protection. But it will have to come out at one point. When it’s time for you to extract the cup to empty it, you place your index finger and thumb into your vagina, then pull the stem of the cup out gently until you have reached the base of the cup.
You follow this with pinching the base to remove the cup. Once the cup is fully out, you pour the period fluid in the toilet or sink.
If you are using a reusable cup, you need to wash and wipe it clean before reinserting back into your vagina. A good reusable cup can last for 6 months to 10 years depending on how you use and care for it. Then at the end of your cycle, you are recommended to boil the cup to sterilize it before keeping it for the following month.
Having a bad day? Try this morning skincare routine to rejuvenate your skin.
What are the available types of menstrual cups?
Menstrual cups are designed in different ways to cater to the needs of different women. There are several menstrual cup products on the U.S. market in different shapes, materials, dimensions, and colors, you will find the right one for yourself.
But most menstrual cups come in a cup or bell shapes and diaphragm types. There are also several sizes from small to medium to large cups.
The sizes or dimensions include; Small (S): dimensions 38 x 45 mm, capacity 23 ml. Suitable for minors who are not sexually active. Medium (M): dimensions 41 x 48 mm, capacity 28 ml. Large (L): dimensions 44 x 51 mm, capacity 34 ml. Extra-large (XL): dimensions 47 x 56 mm, capacity 42 ml.
How long should I use my menstrual cup before changing it?
Keeping proper hygiene is most especially important to a woman during her period. You have to keep your menstrual cup products clean to reduce the risk of possible infections. You can clean and sterilize your cup easily by using water and rinsing it out, then boiling it in hot water after your cycle is completed.
Most menstrual cups come with pouches where you can store them after use. But note that you must not store your menstrual cup in an airtight container. A cool and dry place is perfect.
There is also the consideration of the type of flow. Each woman is different from the other and the frequency you will use a cup for also varies. A cup can be used for up to 12 hours on average but can be shorter based on the flow strength. You should empty your cup frequently though; you don’t need to exhaust the 12 hours before emptying your cup.
Can I use menstrual cup during sexual intercourse?
For those worried about how a menstrual cup will affect their sex life since the cup is inserted in the vagina, you don’t need to be. There are disposable diaphragm cups that can be used during sexual intercourse. They are specially designed for this purpose of intimacy. For reusable cups, they have to be taken out before you have sex.
Also, note that a menstrual cup is not a contraceptive. It might be sealing up your vagina, but cannot stop sperm from entering it. It does not offer any protection during sex and against contracting sexually transmitted infections.
What is the difference between a menstrual cup, tampon and sanitary pad?
These three feminine hygiene products are all designed to perform the same function. But they are very different in carrying out this function. When it comes to the traditional sanitary pads, you can only use them once before throwing them out. The same goes for the tampon. Meanwhile, a menstrual cup is reusable with a lifespan of up to 10 years. Not only would you be saving a lot of money, but you would also be protecting the environment.
Also, the cups are considered a safer option for your health than the others. The cups can prevent infections since they are made of inactive materials. For sanitary pads and tampons, toxic shock syndrome, bacteria vaginosis, candidiasis, and other conditions have been associated with them.
What are the risks I may face if I use menstrual cups?
Even though the menstrual cup is a great product, there are still some possible risks you might encounter when using the product. First, you might find it complicated when you start. Inserting and removing could become difficult, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier.
Leaking is another possible risk you might encounter, especially when you discover punctures on the cup. You might also get reactions if you are allergic to the material used. If the cups are not properly clean, it opens up a way for infections. So keeping it clean should be a priority.
What are the pros and cons of using a menstrual cup?
A product will always have pros and cons. And before you buy, you have to be aware of what you will be getting and what you want. Here are the lists of pros and cons of a menstrual cup:
- It is cost-effective and affordable.
- It is environmentally friendly.
- Menstrual cups have a lesser risk of infections if properly cleaned.
- It comes in varying sizes and dimensions.
- Menstrual cup holds more period fluid than tampons and pads.
- It won’t cause dryness in the vagina.
- It can be messy removing the cup.
- You might experience difficulty on the first try.
- You might experience leakage if the cup is not slipped in perfectly.
Even though all types of menstrual cups are good for one woman or the other, you still need a list of criteria to help you get the perfect one for you. These criteria influence your buying choice and what brand or type you are going for in the end.
This is the most important criterion that will influence your buying choice. Some menstrual cups are made to cater to heavy flow; you shouldn’t base your size choice solely on your flow.
Age also affects the size of the cup you are choosing. For girls under the age of 18, small size is recommended. This is also best for girls who have not had penetrated vaginal sex yet. Women between 18 and 30 who have not given birth can use medium-sized cups. And women over 30, especially those that have had vaginal birth can use a large-sized menstrual cup.
In the U.S. market, there are lots of colors with varying products. Though there are rare colors, you’ll find a menstrual cup in pink and purple colors. The color you choose is based on your preference and the color doesn’t make much difference in the effectiveness of the cup. The colors used are food colors or color additives, so they are toxin-free and perfectly safe to use.
There are different models of a menstrual cup. While most of them come in bell shapes, there is also the diaphragm model. The diaphragm models are meant to be placed below the cervix and are specially created with sex in mind.
There are some cups with featured rigged edges that will adapt to your vagina wall’s shape. This will make it more comfortable and stable when using such types. But for first-timers, go for cups that have a device that would help you extract the cup easily.
Menstrual cups are made with materials like medicinal silicone, latex rubber, or thermoplastic elastomer. All materials are safe for women to use, except you are allergic to any one of them. The three are also similar in texture consistency, flexibility, and holding liquid effectively.
You can choose the one that best suits you and your perception as an individual. But keep an eye out for allergens and reactions, especially with the latex material.
You have the option of going for disposable menstrual cups too. They are usually designed for a single menstrual cycle and have to be disposed of afterward. But do not worry they are equally eco-friendly as reusable cups. They are best for short trips or excursions where cleans and sterilizing the normal cups is difficult.
Recommended Menstrual Cups
To make purchasing a menstrual cup easier, here is a selected list of the best menstrual cups. These are cups well-known in the U.S. market. Their product characteristics will make it easier to find the perfect menstrual cup for you.
Best for Heavy Flow
Lena menstrual cup is the best choice for super heavy flow. It’s great for experienced users who want something that’ll last for a while. With the cup, you are guaranteed 12 hours of use. It’s a single-cup pack but has different sizes to fit into the cervix. It is made from silicone material and is BPA-free.
Best Beginners Set
Being new to the menstrual cup scene, you will need a product that would be comfortable and easy to use. Venus Menstrual Cup Starter Kit is the perfect cup for beginners. It is a two-set cup (one large, one small) to accommodate any type of flow you have. also, the cups are great for people with low, medium, or high cervix.
You can switch the cups too. The larger one for heavy days, and the small one for light flows. It is made from high-grade medical silicone. Venus cup is easy to fold and insert with the right amount of firmness. And the stems have a good grip, which makes removing them easy.
Best Organic Cup
OrganiCup menstrual cup is one of the best organic feminine products. The cup is made from silicone material and is chemical-free. It won the 2019 Allergy Award for the best skin-friendly product for the body. There is a guarantee of no leaks with up to 12 hours of use. The cup also eliminates dryness and irritation, while ensuring pH balance is intact.
Best Durable Cup Set
You will need a durable set in large and small scups to cater to your flows. Luna Menstrual Cup is comfortable to wear and lasts for a very long time. The material is made from silicone and is just the right texture. The silicone is soft to ensure comfort, but not too soft to avoid leakage. It’s a product perfect for all ages.
aside from the above, the menstrual cup is different because of its long stem. This makes it easy to pull out. Storing it is easy with the silky pouch attached to the pack.
Best Collapsible Cup
For easy insertion and removal, Talisi When Your Dreams Come True’s collapsible menstrual cup is the best option. The cup comes in a five-piece set that is foldable and easy to place. It is reusable and perfect for sporty women. It doesn’t dry the vagina as it collects blood. Also, it is effortless and clean to place. You won’t have to worry about smearing your fingers when changing.
If you haven’t been keen on a menstrual cup but experience heavy flows during your period, you should try it. Not only will it catch and collect more than the traditional sanitary pads and tampons, but it is also cost-effective and eco-friendly. A menstrual cup is a great alternative you are looking for.
So if you don’t want to keep purchasing a pad or tampon each month, you should try it out. Make sure to buy your right size and clean it properly after emptying it. And at the end of your cycle, sterilize it with hot water.
Now that you are armed with the right information needed, you can make the best decision when it comes to buying a menstrual cup.
Loved this article? MBGON provides wellness articles for healthy leaving.