Menstrual cups have gained quite a bit of attention recently. I myself became interested in using a menstrual cup as I had increasing concerns about the questionable chemicals and toxins in tampons and other feminine hygiene products. With touts of increased safety, ease of use and more “worry-free” time, I eagerly purchased a menstrual cup several months ago and have been using it ever since. If you’ve considered switching to a menstrual cup, I’ve laid out the pros and cons to help you navigate your first few attempts a little more easily.
What is a Menstrual Cup???
A small-ish (larger in diameter than a tampon) thick silicon cup with a stem on the end for easy removal and application. The cup is inserted with the opening toward the top of your cervix and is held in place by the muscular walls of your vagina. The cup is used in placed of tampons or pads during your cycle. The opening of the cup collects menstrual fluid and can be removed emptied, cleaned and re-inserted throughout your cycle. Sizing of menstrual cups varies depending on the brand you buy. Sizing is based on use of the cup pre- and post- child birth via c-section and vaginal delivery.
Purchasing a menstrual cup will run you about $25 and can be bought at a few locations locally (Target, Whole Foods, Angel Britches) or you can order one from Amazon. Most manufacturers suggest using your menstrual cup for about a year before replacing, which is a much cheaper price point than the boxes of tampon or pads you’d need to get you through a year. Menstrual cups are sold under many names including Diva Cup, Luna, LENA, Athena, and Dutchess, just to name a few.
I’m going on using my menstrual cup for about 4 months now and am happy to say that I haven’t purchased any other feminine hygiene products since, saving me quite a bit of money. I am able to insert my menstrual cup early in the morning and not remove and empty or clean it until late in the evening at bedtime. I personally have very predictable, light periods so I am able to leave my menstrual cup in for an easy 12 hours at the heaviest point of my cycle and even longer when my menstrual flow subsides.
I am comfortably able to wear my menstrual cup during workouts, while swimming and while bathing or showering. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised with the confident protection my menstrual cup provides. When inserted correctly, I have had very few leaks or mishaps while using my cup. My menstrual cup came with a discreet carrying pouch making it easy to carry when you are expecting your period to begin.
Since periods are not one of the more glamorous aspects of life, like any feminine hygiene product, the menstrual cup comes with some drawbacks. Unlike tampons or pads that can be stashed any and everywhere, having only one menstrual cup makes life interesting if your monthly visitor decides to surprise you. I still carry a tampon, just in case, but around “that time of the month” I just put my cup in my purse to have it on hand. Having lighter cycles, removing and cleaning my cup during the day in public restrooms is not an issue, but with heavier cycles and more frequent emptying, use of a menstrual cup may require a backup option if you’ll be away from home for a while. Removing, cleaning and emptying a menstrual cup in a public restroom would be a difficult and messy situation and impossible to complete discreetly with kids in tow.
Like other feminine hygiene products, insertion and removal of a menstrual cup requires a little practice. Proper positioning is important to ensure a good seal and prevention of leaks. Personally, I find it easiest to insert the cup in a standing position and removing the cup in a seated or squatting position. Removal over the toilet or in the shower is VERY important or you’ll encounter a very big mess. Removal of your cup in the shower also allows for cleaning of the cup without having to carry your used cup across a bathroom to a sink for cleaning. The stem of the cup is long to accommodate easy removal for different sizes of woman but can be trimmed if you find it bothersome. Don’t make the mistake of trimming the stem too much as it is very important in the removal process. Also, I must mention that if you’re squeamish about seeing blood or touching your nether regions, using a menstrual cup many not be the best option for you.
With a few months of use under my belt, I can honestly say that I’ve completely eliminated the use of tampons and other feminine hygiene products. With each use, I feel more confident inserting and wearing my menstrual cup and also am happy to know that in choosing to use this device, I’ve further eliminated some of the chemicals I expose my body to, especially in such a delicate area.