What are menstrual cups?
Menstrual cups are funnel shaped and are inserted in the vagina to do its function by suctioning to the cervix and collecting menstrual blood. Can be made from different materials, such as rubber or silicone. But you should keep in mind that medical grade silicone has a high compatibility with your body and can keep its shape for the cup’s lifetime.
A benefit is you can wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours and it is reusable. Also compared to tampons, they can hold considerably more blood. However if you have a heavy flow you may need to empty it out sooner to prevent leaks. Different sizes and colors exist for comfort.
Pros of menstrual cups
Many women gravitate towards tampons for her period but they tend to dry out the vagina, while menstrual cups help keep in the natural moisture of the vagina as well as the healthy flora protecting you from nast infections such as yeast infections.
Keeps things in balance
Menstrual cups do not absorb any fluids, but instead gathers it. So fluids made by your body are gathered and emptied out later and does not cause any discomfort or dryness. Pads on the other hand creates a moist, warm environment which can lead to bacterial growth and possibly increase infections.
The nasty bacteria can end up causing vaginal irritation and discomfort. Tampons can absorb a large amount of released menstrual blood, but they can hold as much as cups. Tampons can also alter the pH balance of the vagina and can absorb a lot of the good flora, both of which protect you from infections.
Both environmentally and budget friendly
Since menstrual cups are reusable, this makes them environmentally friendly and helps you save a lot of your money compared to if you were using sanitary pads or tampons. A single cup can last you up to 10 years. At the same time one of the cups can stay inside for up to 12 hours compared to the short 4 to 6 hours of a tampon. Another good point to look at is the reusability of a menstrual cup, where you can use a single one for up to 10 years with proper care thereby making less waste for the environment.
Less chemical use
Certain chemicals that may be used in tampons and pads can be harmful to you, such as bleached cotton, viscose or synthetic fibers. However these concerns do not apply to the cup compared to the possibility of there being unsafe chemicals in tampons or pads, cups do not have any harmful chemicals and are safe for use. A menstrual cup, for example, is made up of medical grade silicone, eliminating your health concerns of possible fibers being left behind in the vagina.
There is no odor
When exposed to air, menstrual blood releases an unpleasant smell, and this problem can not be avoided when using pads for example. Even though periods are completely natural, it is something that sadly many women still feel ashamed or embarrassed of. On the other hand, cups help eliminate the possibility of smells that tend to happen with pads or tampons. The cup forms a seal at the cervix and keeps the blood “inside” your body, protecting from exposure to air. If you find yourself being self-conscious about the possibility of a smell then we recommend switching to cups.
Less of a chance for leaks
With pads or tampons, leaks of menstrual blood is possible since they can only hold so much when compared to a cup. Depending on the size of your cup can hold around 30 to 60 milliliters, tampons up to 12 milliliters, and a night pad up to 15 milliliters. From this we can see that you can keep a cup inside for much longer without emptying it, since it can hold about double the amount of blood. Meaning these cups are almost ground breaking for those who have a heavy flow and struggle to find a menstrual product that would suit them.
Cons of menstrual cups
When it is the first time you wear a cup, it can be hard to know if it is the right fit for you. It can be difficult for you to know how to perfectly insert it. So in the meantime until you figure out what size best suits you, and how to insert in a way where no leaks will occur. There are several sizes, and some brands even offer smaller “teen” sized options. Also make sure not to choose a cup size by your flow, only fit should determine it.
Can be messy
A thought that may not occur to you until it is time for you to use a menstrual cup, is that you have to use your fingers. This realization can be intimidating for your first time, since you need to get in there and feek around with your fingers. But you get used to this after a while of using it, and you do not bat an eye over it. When the roughly 12 hours are up and it is time to remove the cup, it can be rather messy with the blood the cup holds. You need to squat and squeeze with your pelvic muscles to push it down and pull on the stem to break the cup’s seal.
Time it takes to insert
When it comes to using a tampon for the first time you may think it is easy, but it is hard to get it right the first time. But with repeated use, the process becomes much easier for you. Your body starts to relax and finds yourself changing out a tampon like that! The same concept applies for a menstrual cup, it will take a few trial and error attempts. But when you get the hang of it, you will be able to insert and remove it with no problems. Even the clean up after removal will be easier on you.
Opposed to menstrual products that are disposable, you will need to take good care of your menstrual cup to last as long as possible. Any product that is reusable requires regular, proper care. This is so that bacteria do not get into the vaginal tract. Meaning your cup should be sterilized before and after the period cycle, and should be checked for any signs for wear and tear.
Allergic reaction and irritation
Even though a person experiencing an allergic reaction from silicone material is rare, it can happen. Most menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone, which is hypoallergenic by nature; some people experience a red, bumpy rash after using it for the first time.
You may also experience irritation, which can happen due to several reasons. The good news is that most of those reasons are preventable. For example, if you insert a cup without enough lubrication it can cause you discomfort. So just apply a small amount of water based lubricant to help stop this from happening.
Cleaning your cup
Keep in mind that you do not need to sanitize it every time you empty it out whilst on your period, just washing it is enough and will not increase your risk of infections. After your cycle is finished, place the cup in boiling water for about 3 to 4 minutes to sanitize. Always be mindful not to burn the silicone.
Perhaps with the pros and cons listed in this article, it may have convinced you to try a cup or maybe it more or less confirmed what you know. As mentioned earlier in this article, as long as you take care of a menstrual cup well enough you can keep it for a much longer time and are wonderful alternatives to tampons and pads.
They are comfortable and rather easy for you to use after getting used to it, and are good for the environment. But one thing you should think about before you try it, is that it is not for everyone and you could perhaps talk with a healthcare provider