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Everything You Need To Know About Menstrual Cups

menstrual cup

To all the ladies out there who hate uncomfy periods — listen up, ‘cos here’s awesome news for you!

If you’ve always been a user of sanitary pads and tampons, you might be interested in making the switch to a menstrual cup. There’s a lot of buzz all over the Internet about this eco-friendly alternative, but what’s the hype all about.

What is it?

Menstrual cups have been in the market since the 1930s, but are not as popular as they are now. Although more women are starting to favor menstrual cups, awareness about this product is still relatively low.

These small, flexible funnel-shaped cups are made of medical-grade silicone or latex rubber, which makes them easy to squish in different shapes and pop in easily in the vaginal canal. 

Menstrual cups collect period flow instead of absorbing them like how sanitary pads and tampons work. Cups can also hold more blood than other methods, and can be left for up to 12 hours depending on your flow.

What makes the cups stand out from other methods is the fact that they’re economical. Since they’re reusable, they can last for years as long as they’re taken care of properly.

Is it safe?

It’s important to buy a cup only from a reputable manufacturer to ensure that you’ll be getting is made of quality, medical-grade, and safe materials. A cheap cup from a random website can be sketchy, so better do your research first where to buy one.

Menstrual cups aren’t supposed to hurt; but if they do, you might have the wrong size or you need to take it out and place it back in. The pain might be coming from being in the wrong place.

You shouldn’t be worried about “losing” the cup inside you. If there’s any direction for it to move in the vaginal canal, it’s going down — in case you can’t get it out yourself, seek help from your doctor.

As long as you wash your hands before inserting and removing the cup, and you thoroughly clean the cup before using it, the chances of having an infection is very low.

How is it able to fit in the vagina?

Looking at a menstrual cup can get intimidating and make you think “how’s that supposed to fit in me?!” But if you understand your body and its anatomy, you would know that a menstrual cup would fit in snuggly.

You have to get a cup in your size to make sure that you get the perfect fit. They’re usually available in small and large, depending on what the brand offers. It’s usually recommended to get a small cup if you’re under 30 years old and haven’t given birth. A large cup usually suits those who are over 30 or have given birth already.

But remember, not all women are created with the same body. How high or low your cervix is will also affect which cup size is best for you. But how will you know that? You’ll have to check it during your period. You can determine how long your vagina is by inserting clean fingers inside to locate the cervix. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, talking to your healthcare provider may help you out.

How to use it?

It’ll take a bit more practice to get used to menstrual cups since they aren’t as easy and simple as sanitary pads and tampons.

Your first time to insert a cup may be uncomfortable, but wetting the rim with water or a water-based lubricant will make it slip in easier. It’s also important to make sure that the cup is properly cleaned before inserting it.

Putting it in

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Tightly fold the cup in half (there are a lot of ways to fold it, figure out which one works for you), and hold it with one hand with the rim facing up.
  3. Insert the cup, rim up, into your vagina. It should be a few inches below your cervix.
  4. Once the cup is released in the vagina, it’s supposed to pop open and fit snuggly to create an airtight seal that prevents leaks.

You’re not supposed to feel any pain or where your menstrual cup is inside you if it’s inserted correctly. Once it’s in, you can proceed with your daily activities without worries.

You can leave the cup inside for up to 6 to 12 hours. When you should empty it out will depend on your flow. By 12 hours, you should take it out already. But if your flow is heavy enough that the cup is filled before 12 hours, you should empty it out ahead of schedule to avoid leaks. Ideally, you should empty your cup at least twice a day.

Taking it out

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Put your index finger and thumb inside your vagina to reach for the stem of the cup. Gently pull the stem until you can touch the base of the cup.
  3. Squeeze the base to release the seal, and gently pull the cup out of your vagina.
  4. Empty the cup into the sink or toilet.
  5. Wash the cup thoroughly.

Cleaning it up

Wash and wipe clean your cup before inserting it back in your vagina. Don’t forget to sanitize and wash it thoroughly before and after each period. Most cups will come with their own pouch or storage when you purchase them. With proper care, your reusable menstrual cup can last for up to ten years.

Does it leak?

You shouldn’t be experiencing leaks with your menstrual cup if you got it in correctly. Some of the common reasons for leakages are: 

  • Using the wrong size, which prevents perfect sealing against your vaginal walls.
  • It wasn’t inserted correctly and didn’t successfully seal. You should hear a “pop” when it seals.
  • It’s full and you need to empty it out.
  • The position of your cervix. The cup may get out of place easily if it touches the cervix. Figure out which cup will suit you best.

Pros

Budget-friendly. Although menstrual cups aren’t widely available yet in the Philippines, there are already a few reputable brands that range from P575 – P899. Yes, they cost more than a single pack of sanitary pads, but a single cup can be used for up to ten years. That’s like spending just P57.50 – P89.90 for a year.

Eco-friendly. Since menstrual cups are reusable, you won’t be throwing out used sanitary pads or tampons. You’ve helped yourself save money, and save mother earth as well!

Safe for up to 12 hours. You can leave your cup on for up to 12 hours without having to worry about toxic shock syndrome (TSS). It’s a rare bacterial infection associated with tampons being left unchanged for hours.

Holds more. Menstrual cups can hold as much as one ounce of liquid, which is twice as much as what tampons and sanitary pads can absorb. You’ll really love your cup on your heavy flow days.

Less odor. If you’re conscious about smelling like period blood, a menstrual cup prevents the odor from getting out since it creates an airtight seal inside your vagina.

Virtually not there. If you got your cup in perfectly, you’d hardly notice that it’s there! Doing physical activities when you have your period is easier and much more comfortable when you use a menstrual cup. You won’t have to worry about leaks, tracking the time to change, or your sanitary pad bulging against your pants.

Cons

Finding the right fit can be difficult. Menstrual cups aren’t one-size-fits-all, and there are a few factors that need to be considered. You might have to go through trial and error before finding the perfect one for you, but a healthcare provider can help you figure it out.

It can get messy. Spills can happen when you’re emptying your cup. Washing it can also be a challenge when you’re going to empty it at a public restroom.

Needs practice. Inserting something in the vagina isn’t something you would normally do on a daily basis, so you’ll need some time to practice getting your cup in correctly.

Making the switch to a menstrual cup is a matter of personal preference. If you’re still unsure, have a chat with your doctor to know about your options and help you decide which menstrual product fits you.

Sources:

https://www.abc.net.au/life/a-guide-to-using-menstrual-cups/11672814

https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/menstrual-cup#how-to-use

https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/menstrual-cup#1

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