A year ago, I would have actually cringed at the thought of using a menstrual cup. I mean, a cup that you insert inside of your vagina that collects your menstrual blood sounds gross right? It really isn’t as bad or messy as it sounds and if you think about it, how are tampons or pads any better? I have been using a menstrual cup for 7 or 8 months and I love it.
They have been around for years
Menstrual cups were first introduced in the 1930’s. So, they are nothing new, but I had never heard of them until a year or two ago and I do not personally know many women who have even heard of such a thing. Back in the day, they were made of hard rubber, so I can understand why they didn’t gain popularity over tampons. However, they are now usually made of soft, flexible silicone. They have come a long way, yet women are still hardly using them.
Why are women not using menstrual cups?
Like I said, many women don’t even know that there is an alternative to tampons and pads. Then when the product is introduced to them, they find it bizarre, like I did. When you have used something for your entire menstruating life, any change is going to be hard to understand. A major reason is the “gross” factor. The idea of handling your own blood isn’t exactly appealing. With tampons, you simply use a string to take them out and throw them away. It seems easier, I get it. Plus, you need to be able to wash the cups before reinserting and I can understand not wanting to do that in a public restroom. Then, there are just initial fears of not knowing how to properly use them and whether or not they will be comfortable.
So why should you make the switch?
The benefits of using a menstrual cup over tampons are incredible. First, they are reusable and have a life span of at least a year, though some cups say they can be used for up to 10 years! The cost of tampons can certainly add up, especially if you are unfortunate and have a super heavy flow. Depending on the brand, a menstrual cup might cost you $30 and up (you can find cheaper on Amazon) but you will spend more in a year on tampons. Plus, there is so much less waste since they are reusable.
Menstrual cups hold a lot more blood, like up to five times more. Since we are talking about a personal subject anyway, I have at least one day each cycle that I have a super heavy flow. I mean I can be leaking with a tampon after 30 minutes. With a cup, I generally only have to wash it twice a day, when I wake up and before bed. That one very heavy day, I will empty and wash in the middle of the day once as well. Most cups only need to be emptied every 12 hours, but you can do so more often if needed. It is so much easier than going through two boxes of tampons every cycle, plus you don’t have to worry about leaking as long as you are inserting it correctly.
Tampons contain many chemicals and we all have heard about the very scary Toxic Shock Syndrome that is associated with tampon use. Cups are made from 100% medical-grade silicone, so no crazy chemicals. Plus, the risk of TSS is supposed to be lower because the cup does not promote bacterial growth like tampons. I have no expertise in the area, so I will make no claims, but as long as you are not leaving the cup in longer than 12 hours, I feel they are safer.
Once you are used to inserting a menstrual cup, they are much more comfortable. In fact, you can’t even feel them! When you know your period is coming, you can insert the cup in anticipation. Have you ever used a tampon when you thought you were going to start, but didn’t? Or maybe you were having a very light day and then had to remove a dry tampon. Ouch! Because the cup does not absorb any fluids, it will not dry out your vaginal walls, making it totally easy to remove.
Tips to using menstrual cups
-Pick a day that you will be home to try a cup for the first time, in case of misuse and leaks. Check the cup often during the first use to practice inserting and make sure it is in the proper position.
-Know you cervix location ahead of time. Yes, that means you will need to insert your finger into your vagina, but it is your vagina and you should know your body. This will make it easier to position the cup.
-If you are going to be away from the house for more than 8 hours, you may want to wash and reinsert right before you leave if you don’t want to have to wash in a public restroom. There are actually wipes made for cleaning cups on the go, too!
-Fold the cup when inserting. Once inside, you can rotate it to pop it open and create suction. Trust me, it won’t go anywhere. There are many videos you can watch to help you, but really you will just need to practice for yourself.
-Break the suction before removing.
-Most menstrual cups have a longer than necessary stem. This will likely be uncomfortable, especially if your cervix is low. You can cut the stem down as long as you need to and still leave a little bit to help remove it.
So many options
For menstrual cups not being totally popular, there are many different ones to choose. Diva Cup, Lunette, and Lily Cup are just a few. Research them and find the right one for you. I am telling you, from my own personal experience, menstrual cups have changed my life and I never want to use another tampon!
What do you think about Menstrual Cups? Do you find them scary and gross or do you already use one?