Sanitary pads and tampons are the usual period buddies of women. However, menstrual cups are slowly gaining popularity in the market. There are menstrual cup pros and cons that you should consider before diving into this rising trend. Let’s have a look.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a feminine care device, inserted inside the vagina to collect (not absorb) menstrual fluid. Using a menstrual cup is an alternative to using absorbent menstrual pads and tampons.
Menstrual cups are made out of medical-grade latex or silicone. Make sure to purchase a silicone menstrual cup if you are latex-sensitive.
There are two types of menstrual cups, (1) a vaginal menstrual cup that is inserted inside the vagina, and the (2) cervical menstrual cup that is placed on the cervix just a little above the vagina.
Some menstrual cups are reusable while some are disposable. With proper care, reusable cups can last for about 6 months to 10 years. When using disposable menstrual cups, quickly disregard the product after use.
How to use a menstrual cup
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a menstrual cup.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap.
- Sanitize and sterilize your menstrual cup before use.
- Carefully insert the cup using water or a water-based lubricant if needed. If you have a silicone menstrual cup, avoid using oil-based lubricants as it damages the product.
- Get in a relaxed position by either lying down, standing, squatting, or sitting on the toilet. The cup insertion is easier when you find the best position you’re comfortable with.
- Insert the cup by the folding method you prefer. Place it in the in the lower vaginal canal and once you hear a suction sound or a pop, then it’s in.
- You can use your finger to touch the base of the cup and check if folds are present. Carefully adjust the base of the cup to remove any noticeable folds and place it correctly
- If the stem of the cup is making you feel uncomfortable, you can trim the stem before putting the cup in.
- You can use the menstrual cup for 12 hours straight or empty it more than twice a day depending on how heavy your flow is.
- To remove the cup, repeat step 1 and step 2. But instead of inserting, you now have to remove the cup from your vagina.
- Use your finger to slightly pull the stem until you reach the base of the cup. Pinch the base carefully to release the cup’s grip and slowly pull it out. Avoid pulling it recklessly as it can cause discomfort.
- After using, dump the contents of the cup on the toilet and wash the cup using warm water and soap and dry it. Once your period ends, sterilize the menstrual cup by boiling it for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure that the cup is not touching the bottom of the pot.
- Keep it in a clean bag or pouch and save it for next time.
Menstrual cup pros and cons
To help you better understand if a menstrual cup is for you, here are menstrual cup pros and cons that can help you decide:
Menstrual Cups: The Pros
- Menstrual cups last longer than other sanitary products. This will save you money and save the environment as well. Normally, you change pads or tampons at least 4 to 6 times a day depending on your flow. But when you use menstrual cups, you just have to empty it at least twice per day or use it for 12 hours straight.
You can make the most out of your menstrual cup for about 6 months up to 10 years; that’s a lot of savings as well as less landfill waste.
- Menstrual cups collect the menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. You will notice the absence of menstrual odor when using a menstrual cup since it does not expose the blood to air.
- If compared to other sanitary products, menstrual cups are easier to use. You only need to find the right position and carefully insert the cup inside your vagina, and that’s it. Menstrual cups don’t need an applicator like tampons or lots of sticky stuff like sanitary pads.
- Using menstrual cups will prevent you from acquiring toxic shock syndrome or TSS. TSS is a rare but fatal complication caused by bacterial infections. You are most likely to have TSS when you use tampons since it absorbs blood where bacteria can culture.
- Menstrual cups are more convenient especially when you’re traveling or just outdoors. You don’t need to worry about purchasing or discarding any sanitary products while on your trip since a menstrual cup is reusable and handy.
- You will still have leakage with a menstrual cup but it is not as bad as using pads or tampons. If you’re having a heavy flow, then might leak a little.
It is recommended that you wear a panty liner on the first and second day of your period to avoid accidents.
Menstrual Cups: The Cons
- Menstrual cups need some time to get used to. Using a menstrual cup can be quite challenging especially for beginners. Unlike when using a sanitary pad, where you just need to slap it on to your underwear, and you’re done.
You might need some practice before becoming a pro with menstrual cups. That is why it is recommended that you practice using it even before your period starts.
- Removing and cleaning the menstrual cup can be messy. Since the cup contains blood, some first-time users are having a hard time taking it out and tossing its contents in the toilet without gagging. It is also quite embarrassing to clean your menstrual cup in a public washroom.
- You might find it difficult to insert a menstrual cup if you have an IUD insertion since it can dislodge the IUD string. Young girls or women who have not yet engaged in intercourse might also experience this problem.
The difference with anatomy is also another reason for the difficulty in menstrual cup insertion. If you have dropped uterus or fibroids, you might find it difficult to place the cup in its right position.
- Since menstrual cups are reusable, it is expected that you need to clean it after every use. It is quite a handful, especially for busy people. A menstrual cup has to be washed in soap and warm water, as well as sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes.
If you think you can commit to this kind of maintenance, then a menstrual cup will work for you.
If you have vaginal conditions or if you are a first-timer, it is best to ask your trusted gynecologist for medical advice before using a menstrual cup.
Trying a menstrual cup for the first time is a great opportunity for you to further explore your body’s needs. But be mindful of the menstrual cup pros and cons before trying it yourself. This is to know whether you are fit to use the product and if it caters to your preferences.
Keeping yourself comfortable is always the top priority in picking the right product that suits you. If you have got an approval from your doctor and you have come up to a decision, then it is time for you to give the menstrual cup a try.
Learn more about Women’s Health, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.