Are they safe? Are they sustainable? Do I really need them?
The answer to all these questions is YES. Menstrual cups can be used by menstruating women of all ages. They are a godsend. There, I said it. For ages, women have been subjected to using ways that are not only harmful for themselves, but also for the environment. Without the option of an alternative, one can’t expect women to go sustainable. It’s easier now with the advent of menstrual cups.
It seemed like a scary prospect at first but with proper research and understanding, I knew this is what I want. Given it’s manifold advantages both to us and the environment, one simply can’t ignore.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product made out of rubber or medical grade silicone. It is placed inside a women’s vagina and helps in collecting period blood. A menstrual cup is funnel shaped with a small stem in the end. It is a better alternative to using tampons or sanitary pads.
Wondering, what more benefits does it have? Here goes:
1. Long-lasting – A menstrual cup can last upto 10 years. Imagine the money you can save from not buying other feminine products.
2. Eco-friendly – Menstrual cups are reusable. This property helps in avoiding non-biodegradable products, thus reducing the amount of waste created.
Did you know? A single menstruator uses around 15000 pads in their lifetime, which usually ends up in landfills as plastic waste and contributes to environmental pollution. Shocking right!
3. Odour control – The foul odour that prevails during your periods is due to the blood coming in contact with air. With a menstrual cup, the odour is not a problem since its inside you.
4. No Leakage – Once inserted properly, it has no room for spillage. You can do away with the worries of checking for leaks each time you get up.
5. Hassle free – A cup can stay upto 12 hours without being drained. Unlike, a pad or tampon which requires frequent changes. On average, a woman bleeds only 20ml a day which is the minimum holding capacity of a cup.
6. Forget you’re on periods – Best feeling, right? Unless, its not inserted properly, a cup should not cause any discomfort while it’s inside. So you can forget you are on periods. One thing less to worry about.
You have learned about the benefits, ready to give it a go already. What next? Now comes the tricky part.
How does it work?
Fret not, there are thousands of tutorials and blogs out there to answer all your queries. Go find the right channels and get to watching.
I did my due-diligence on the insertion and removal part too. I know, it looks scary and intimidating. But with proper guidance, you can do it seamlessly.
The above video by Put A Cup In It, clearly showcases the techniques to insert a cup for a beginner.
Keep in mind that, if its inserted properly you should not feel it inside you. If you feel any discomfort or leakage, check for these.
Reasons you feel discomfort while wearing a cup
1. Cup did not open properly
You should hear a faint popping sound when the cup opens. Move it slightly to place it properly around your cervix. You will feel the vaccum created which ensures no leakage. It takes a few cycles to learn, so don’t give up yet.
2. Pelvic muscles are too strong
A soft cup can loose its grip and close up against strong pelvic floor muscles. If you feel you have that, try a firmer cup. Firmer cups are good for beginners since they don’t require much manipulation to open. They sit well against your vaginal canal.
Disclaimer – Firmer cups tend to apply pressure on your insides. It might lead to frequent urge to urinate or sometimes blocking it but it is rare. Same can happen with your anal region since all of them are aligned.
3. Cup Size
Choosing sizes have two criteria : Age and Cervix length.
Age – If you are under the age of 30 and never given birth vaginally, a small cup should be ideal for you. Otherwise, choose a medium or large cup.
Cervix length keeps varying throughout your menstrual cycle. If you have a low-lying cervix, a small cup is best for you. If you have a high cervix, you can go for a medium or large cup. Consider the age factor also before choosing.
How to measure your cervix length?
It’s considered best to measure it during or just before your periods, that when it is the lowest. I’ll link a tutorial to help you with the process.
If your cup is too long, it’ll hit against your cervix and can cause pain. You don’t want that, trust me. I had a similar experience of using a longer cup which was pressing hard against my cervix, resulting in discomfort and pain. Initially, I ignored it for period cramps but when the pain lingered longer, I knew this was because of the cup.
So look out for signs. Don’t ignore any feelings of discomfort. You are not achieving the purpose of a menstrual cup if its uncomfortable.
4. Stem is too long
Most cups come with a stem to ease the removal process. If you have a low cervix or shorter vaginal canal, chances are the stem will protrude out which causes irritation.
An easy solution for this is to trim the stem. Don’t worry, you won’t loose the cup inside. It naturally weighs down when collecting blood. Or you can use the rim of the cup to hold and remove it.
Which takes us to the next question.
How to remove the cup?
Many dread this part, fearing they will not be able to. What if its stuck? Won’t it come out? Will I loose it inside forever? These are just baseless myths. Removing a cup is much easier than inserting. So relax.
Sit on your toilet seat with your legs wide open, feel the cup with your fingers. Try to pinch it to help break the vaccum. When the seal is broken, pull it out gently and drain the fluids into the toilet.
Clean the cup with water before re-inserting.
You might ask, I have tried it all but still feel the discomfort.
What should you do?
If you have tried all methods, done everything correctly but still feel pain or discomfort. Please stop using a menstrual cup. A cup may not be suited for your anatomy. We all come in different shapes and sizes, there is no one-size fits all in this.
Seek medical help if you must. Try out different cups or alternative solutions like biodegradable sanitary pads or cloth pads. I did it too when I thought cups don’t suit me. But then, I took a chance and ordered a small cup from Pee Safe which turned out perfect.
How to Clean and Sterilise a Cup:
Keeping a cup hygienic is crucial to your health. You must clean the cup thoroughly with water after every use, don’t use any soap or cleaning agents.
Sterilise your cup before and after each period cycle. Dip it in boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilise. Keep it in a clean and dry place. Preferably in the pouch which it came in.
Here’s hoping you find your perfect cup. Enjoy your cup journey.
Do you use menstrual cups? How has your experience been? Did you face the same difficulties? Let me know in the comments below.