Menstrual cups are a sustainable and convenient alternative to traditional menstrual products such as tampons and pads. They have gained popularity in recent years as more people seek eco-friendly and cost-effective menstrual options. However, many people are still unsure about what menstrual cups are, how to use them, and what precautions to take. In this article, we will delve into these topics and provide a comprehensive guide to menstrual cups.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a small, bell-shaped device made of medical-grade silicone, latex, or elastomer that is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. The cup can hold between 20-40 ml of fluid, depending on its size and the person’s menstrual flow. Menstrual cups are designed to be reusable and can last for several years with proper care. They come in different sizes, shapes, and colors to fit different body types and menstrual flows.
Benefits of using a menstrual cup
There are many benefits to using a menstrual cup. Here are a few:
- Eco-friendly: Menstrual cups are reusable and produce less waste compared to disposable menstrual products. This makes them a more sustainable option for people who want to reduce their environmental impact.
- Cost-effective: Although menstrual cups may seem expensive upfront, they can save you money in the long run since you won’t have to purchase disposable menstrual products every month.
- Convenience: Menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours, depending on your menstrual flow. This means you can go about your day without worrying about changing tampons or pads frequently.
- Comfort: Many people find menstrual cups to be more comfortable than traditional menstrual products since they don’t cause as much irritation or dryness.
How to use a menstrual cup
Using a menstrual cup for the first time can be intimidating, but with a little practice, it can become second nature. Here are the general steps to follow:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Fold the menstrual cup in half lengthwise or in a C-shape. There are many different folding techniques, so it may take a few tries to find the one that works best for you.
- Relax your muscles and insert the folded cup into your vagina, aiming toward the lower back. The cup should sit low in the vagina, but not too low that the stem is hanging out.
- Once the cup is inside, use your finger to push the bottom of the cup toward the vaginal wall, creating a seal. This will prevent leaks and ensure that the cup is secure.
- Wear the cup for up to 12 hours, depending on your menstrual flow. You can wear the cup during the day or overnight, but make sure to empty it at least twice a day to avoid overflow.
- To remove the cup, gently tug on the stem until you can reach the base of the cup. Pinch the base to break the seal and ease the cup out. Be careful not to tug too hard on the stem, as this can cause discomfort or even lead to the cup being dislodged.
- Empty the cup into the toilet, rinse it with water, and reinsert it if desired. If you’re in a public restroom, you can simply wipe the cup with toilet paper and reinsert it. Make sure to wash the cup thoroughly with soap and water or a menstrual cup cleanser between uses.
Tips for using a menstrual cup
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using a menstrual cup:
- Practice makes perfect: It may take a few cycles to get the hang of using a menstrual cup, so don’t be discouraged if you experience leaks or discomfort at first. With practice, you’ll learn how to insert and remove the cup comfortably and confidently.
- Choose the right size: Menstrual cups come in different sizes, so it’s important to choose one that fits your body and menstrual flow. If you have a heavy flow, you may need a larger cup, while a smaller cup may be sufficient for lighter flows. Some cups are also designed for people with a high cervix or a low cervix, so consider your anatomy when choosing a cup.
- Follow the instructions: Each menstrual cup brand may have specific instructions for use and care, so make sure to read the package insert carefully. Some cups may need to be boiled or sterilized between cycles, while others may be cleaned with soap and water.
- Don’t use during intercourse: Menstrual cups are not designed to be used during intercourse and should be removed before engaging in sexual activity.
- Don’t use overnight for the first time: If you’re using a menstrual cup for the first time, it’s a good idea to wear a pad or liner as backup until you’re comfortable with using the cup. It’s also recommended to avoid wearing the cup overnight for the first few cycles until you’re familiar with how long you can wear it.
Cautions and considerations
While menstrual cups are generally safe and effective, there are some cautions and considerations to keep in mind:
- Empty the cup regularly: To avoid leaks and discomfort, it’s important to empty the cup at least twice a day or more frequently if you have a heavy flow.
- Check for damage: Before using the cup, check for any signs of damage such as cracks, tears, or deformities. A damaged cup can cause leaks or infections, so it’s important to replace it if it’s no longer in good condition.
- Avoid harsh chemicals: When cleaning your menstrual cup, avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach, vinegar, or scented soap. These can damage the cup or cause irritation to your vagina.
- Don’t share the cup: Menstrual cups are for personal use only and should not be shared with others. Sharing cups can spread infections or diseases.
- Consult your doctor: If you have a medical condition such as an IUD or vaginal infection, it’s important to consult your doctor before using a menstrual cup.
Menstrual cups are a sustainable and convenient option for people who want to reduce their environmental impact and save money on menstrual products. While it may take some practice to get the hang of using a menstrual cup, the benefits are worth it. By following these tips and precautions, you can safely and comfortably use a menstrual cup and enjoy the freedom and convenience it provides.
About The Author
Dr. Krisca is a highly-educated and skilled physician who has obtained a BS Public Health degree from the University of the Philippines Manila and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the De La Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute. She is a licensed physician and also a Registered Medical Technologist. She has received additional training in Hemodialysis for Non-Nephro Physicians on duty and has completed online courses in related fields like depression in populations from John Hopkins University and positive psychiatry from The University of Sydney. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of International Health in the University of the Philippines.
Dr. Krisca is known for her outstanding skills and compassionate approach to healthcare that make a positive impact on people’s lives. Through her passion for healthcare, she hopes to make a difference in the world and help people lead healthier, happier lives.