I’ve been reading with interest the comments our recent articles on periods and tampons have generated. I noticed more frequent mentions of menstrual cups so thought it was about time I understood them and why so many readers are talking about them. This is what I learned and I’m happy to share it with you.
1. What is a Menstrual Cup - Exactly?
One of the first facts about menstrual cups that you should know is simply what they are. A menstrual cup is a flexible vessel that is inserted into your vagina to collect your menstrual fluid rather than absorb it like a tampon or maxi pad does. There is a stem at the bottom of the cup that is used to help you find the base in order to pinch and empty the chamber.
2. It Takes a Few Goes to Master
It has to be said that inserting a menstrual cup can be trickier than a tampon at first. The key is to stay relaxed and fold the soft cup before you try to insert it. Using a water based lubricant can also make the job easier if you are really having trouble, but once the cup is inserted you will be able to adjust from within. Don’t be downhearted if it takes a while, it will be worth it in the end!
3. It Needs Cleaning Regularly
Most menstrual cups are made from silicone so they don’t naturally collect a lot of bacteria, but you still have to clean them thoroughly between each period. One of the best ways to do this fully is to sterilize the cup in boiling water for fifteen to twenty minutes, but it could also be cleaned by swabbing with rubbing alcohol. If you are worried about odor, then add a touch of baking soda to the boiling water.
4. They Are Cost Effective
A single menstrual cup costs in the region of $20 to $40 and can last up to ten years. When you compare this to the cost of buying a box of tampons every month for the same time period, you can be saving anything up to $1000! This is an amazing saving, and another positive is that having a cup instead of disposing of so many tampons every month can really help the environment.
5. Test the Market to Find One That Suits
Menstrual cups come in lots of different sizes and styles, so do not settle for the very first one that you see. Some are firmer than others, some are smaller than others. The best one for you will depend on your personal preference and you must take into account the details of your personal period experience and flow. Listen to your body and try out as many cups as you need to before you find the perfect match.
6. Research Where You Can Buy Them
Currently, menstrual cups haven’t made that mainstream leap into all local stores, so if you have no idea where to purchase one then go online and find out where your nearest location is. If it turns out that you are not able to buy one in person, there are literally hundreds of sites online where you can choose from a large variety of cups.
7. Make Sure It’s the Choice for You
Convenient, cost effective and environmentally friendly - sounds great right? Menstrual cups certainly are a good option, but what you have to decide is whether they are a good option for you personally. They involve a lot of ‘hands on’ work and you will need to be pouring your fluids down a sink or the toilet every twelve hours or so, so make sure you are in the right environment to do that. They may not be the best option for somebody who is high maintenance, so have a good think before you commit.
Now you know the main facts about menstrual cups, do you think you will try them out?