Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She is also a fitness enthusiast who enjoys yoga, and has an interest in health and wellness.
What Is a Menstrual Cup?
Menstrual cups, including the popular Diva Cup and the Lena Cup, are arguably the best type of "feminine protection" products out there today. Menstrual cups are a feminine hygiene product that is usually made of medical-grade silicone. They are shaped like a bell with a stem for removal and are inserted into the vagina menstruation to catch menstrual fluid. Menstrual cups are a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative to disposable feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and disposable pads.
Menstrual Cups Save You Time and Money
Unlike disposable products, menstrual cups can be reused for up to ten years if properly cared for (most manufacturers guarantee at least one year of use). They also typically hold more than disposable pads and tampons, meaning they don’t need to be emptied as often as pads and tampons need to be changed. Depending upon your flow and what size cup you choose to use, you can go up to 12 hours before you need to empty it. This is especially convenient for women who are unable to take frequent bathroom breaks at work.
By switching to a reusable menstrual cup, you will save a lot of money on menstrual products. Most women spend about $150-200 on disposable feminine hygiene products every year. Menstrual cups typically cost about $20-$35 and can be used for many years if they are properly cared for. They literally pay for themselves after only a few months!
Menstrual Cups Are Healthier Than Disposable Menstrual Products
Menstrual cups are hypoallergenic, so you don't have to worry about skin irritation, which is a common problem many women experience from disposable pads and tampons. Disposable tampons tend to leave behind small fibers inside your body when used, which causes tiny tears inside your body and increases your risk of infection. Pads often contain chemicals that many women are sensitive to, which increase the risk of skin irritation. Disposable menstrual products including pads and tampons increase your risk of contracting a yeast infection because the materials used in these products are breeding grounds for bacteria.
Since the cups catch the blood, rather than absorb and hold it against the inside of your body like tampons do, there is less risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
Traditional disposable pads and tampons often contain carcinogens such as glyphosate. Further, manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients contained in their disposable menstrual pads and tampons, so you have no idea what is in them. Silicone cups do not contain the harmful chemicals that disposable pads and tampons contain.
Reusable Menstrual Products Are Better for the Environment than Disposables
Because menstrual cups are reusable, you are doing your part to help the environment by using them instead of disposable products. About 12 billion disposable sanitary pads and 7 billion tampons are thrown away each year, adding to the ever-increasing landfill waste problem. These products contain harmful chemicals that can damage ecosystems in addition to hurting your body. Medical-grade silicone menstrual cups do not have these chemicals, and you do not need to dispose of them after each use.
Other Benefits of Menstrual Cups
You can do anything you can do while you're not on your period while using a menstrual cup. They stay in place while you are doing any kind of physical activity, including dancing, swimming, and yoga.
Some women find that their menstrual cramps are less painful or noticeable than when they use tampons or disposable pads. This may be due to the lack of harmful chemicals.
There is no age limit. Menstrual cups are safe for women and girls of any age to use. Any woman or girl who has a period, including young girls who have just experienced menarche, can benefit from using a menstrual cup instead of disposable pads and tampons.
How to Use a Menstrual Cup
Some women may find that their menstrual cup is a bit awkward and uncomfortable to insert at first, but after a little practice, most women find that inserting it is effortless. Once inserted, you should not even feel it if it is inserted correctly. You may have to try several different folding methods before you find one that works for you.
To remove your cup, simply the stem while sitting on the toilet with your legs slightly apart and pull on it while lightly squeezing on the base of the cup with your fingers to break the suction. Some women may find this a bit awkward at first, especially women who are uncomfortable with touching their own bodies, but most women get used to it after a couple cycles and find that it isn’t a big deal.
After removing it, simply empty the cup into the toilet, wipe out any excess blood, and rinse it in hot water. If you are in a public restroom, you can simply empty and wipe it out with toilet paper and rinse it the next time you are home. Most women find they don’t need to empty it during the work day, as it can be left in for up to twelve hours, depending on your flow.
At the end of your period you will want to thoroughly clean it before storing it away until your next period. Many women boil their cup to disinfect it. If you are uncomfortable doing that, you can clean it using specially formulated menstrual cup wash, such as the Diva Wash marketed for use with the Diva Cup. You can also use cleaner meant for silicone adult novelties, which may be less expensive than the Diva Wash or other special menstrual cup washes.
Menstrual cups can leak, especially if you have just started using it and haven’t gotten used to inserting it correctly yet, of if you leave it in too long without emptying it. You may wish to use pads as a backup, at least for your first couple of cycles. You may want to look into using reusable cloth pads instead of disposables.
Where to Buy a Menstrual Cup
There are many different brands available today. The Diva Cup is the most well-known and widely available menstrual cup brand in the United States and is available at many different retailers including big-box stores like Target, as well as many drug stores such as Walgreens and CVS. It is also available online.
Other brands, such as the Lena Cup, are available online and may be available at certain drugstores and other brick-and-mortar retailers.
Most brands of menstrual cups offer two different sizes. Some manufacturers recommend the smaller size for women who are under 30 years of age and have not given birth, and the larger size are for women who are either over 30 or have given birth. Other brands recommend the smaller size for women with lighter flows and the larger size for women with heavier flows. You may find that you prefer to have multiple cups for different days of your period.
Menstrual Cups: A Better Way to Deal with Your Period
Menstrual cups offer many benefits over traditional disposable products. Not only are they more comfortable to use, they are also healthier and better for the environment. Though they may seem expensive initially, they are much more economical in the long run than disposable products. They are easy to use once you get the hang of it and most women who try menstrual cups never want to go back to disposable products.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 18, 2018:
Hello Jennifer, I just bring this to the attention of my wife. Thank you.