Figuring out the best solution for your monthly flow can be tricky. Every woman is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. However, many women who struggle with overflow and discomfort issues from pads and tampons find that periods are easier with menstrual cups.
What is a Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable period alternative to pads or tampons. It’s made from soft, flexible material, such as rubber or silicone, which creates an air-tight seal in your vagina to collect period fluids.
How Does A Menstrual Cup Work?
When the menstrual cup slides into your vagina, the rubber expands just below your cervix, making a seal that prevents any blood from escaping. The cup collects rather than absorbs your flow, so you don’t have to worry about getting Toxic Shock Syndrome, and can keep it in for up to 12 hours!
When the cup is full, you can empty, clean and reuse it.
You can also buy disposable menstrual cups (also known as menstrual discs), which work the same way for one use.
How do I use it?
A menstrual cup is meant to make your periods more manageable. Thanks to the waterproof seal, you don’t have to worry about frustrating leaks unless you keep it in too long. However, a menstrual cup is not birth control, and it does not prevent conception or STDs.
How to Put In Your Menstrual Cup
- Wash your hands to keep your vagina germ free.
- Lubricate the cup with water or water-based lube.
- Fold the cup in half lengthwise.
- Guide the rim of the cup into your vagina, the same way you would a tampon.
- Once it’s all the way in, twist the cup slightly, and it will unfold to create the seal.
- If the cup feels uncomfortable, repeat the process, and adjust the placement.
How to Remove Your Menstrual Cup
- Wash your hands.
- Gently slide two fingers into your vagina and locate the tip of the cup.
- Pull down on the tip to bring the base within reach.
- Lightly squeeze the base to remove the seal, and pull the rest of the cup out.
- Empty the contents into the toilet.
- Wash the cup with hot water and mild soap.
Why would I want to use this over other options?
Switching to a menstrual cup has several benefits beyond the extended wear time and avoiding TSS.
- Cost: Tampons and pads can cost up to $150 a year! Alternatively, most reusable menstrual cups cost $20–$40 and last from 6 months to 10 years.
- Mess-free sex: The seal of disposable cups will stay in place and high enough that you can have a good time without worrying about the aftermath.
- IUD compatibility: You never have to worry about disrupting your contraceptive’s efficiency.
Unfortunately, not everyone will have a perfect time using menstrual cups, so here’s what you need to look out for.
- Mess: Due to the high volume of fluids your cup collects, you’ll need to be careful of splashing and spilling.
- Fit: It can be hard to find the right size cup for your vagina, and the wrong size can make it difficult to insert or remove the cup.
- Vaginal Irritation: Menstrual cups can cause significant irritation if you have silicone or rubber allergies. And if you don’t properly clean your cup and hands before insertion, you’re at high risk for infections.
How do I find the right cup for me?
Before you buy a menstrual cup, talk with your gynecologist. Your doctor can help determine whether your body can handle a menstrual cup and discuss the following factors for choosing the correct size and brand:
- Your age: Women under 30 who haven’t given birth generally need smaller cups
- Your flow: If you have heavy bleeding, you may need a larger cup
- Vaginal birth status: Those who’ve given birth vaginally tend to need a larger cup
- Cup construction: Depending on your cervix and comfort level, you may need to choose a cup based on its level of flexibility
Overall, menstrual cups come with a lot of benefits for the women who can use them. But they can also cause some unfortunate problems if you choose the wrong cup size or material. Always talk to your gynecologist before making any significant changes in how you care for your feminine needs. Your doctor can guide you through the process and save you from facing any of those issues.
If you can use a menstrual cup, then start looking forward to the less-expensive, leak-free periods you’ve always hoped for!
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.