Menstrual cups are just one option that menstruators can use during their cycle.  They can be used in conjunction with pads or a replacement for pads and tampons.

A menstruator will throw away around 300 pounds of pads and tampons within her lifetime and in the US, about 20 billion period products end up in landfills each year.

So a menstrual cup is a great way to reduce waste, they are environmentally friendly but they are a little bit more effort.

But it can be difficult to determine where to start with menstrual cups, so we’re answering all of your menstrual cup questions.

What exactly is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a reusable feminine hygiene product that is a funnel shaped cup that you insert into your vagina to catch the menstrual fluid.

Cups are able to hold more blood than pads and tampons and are more eco-friendly because they can be used over and over again. 

Depending on the menstruators flow, you can wear a cup for up to 12 hours.

How do you use a menstrual cup?

If you want to use a menstrual cup, be sure to talk to your OBGYN as they can help you decide what size and brand might work for you.  You’ll want to decide if you want a smaller or larger version, taking into account what the length of your cervix is, whether you want a firm or flexible cup, and if you have a heavy flow.

The larger menstrual cups are used more by women who are over thirty, have a heavier period, or who have had a child.

Before you first use your menstrual cup, it might make it easier to insert by lubricating the rim with lube or water, making it smoother to insert.

Here is how you can insert your menstrual cup:

  1. Make sure to wash your hands before you insert your menstrual cup.
  2. Put water or lube on the rim of your menstrual cup.
  3. Then hold the menstrual cup in one hand and fold the cup in half.
  4. Insert the cup with the rim up into your vagina in the same way that you would insert a tampon without an applicator.
  5. When the cup is inserted into your vagina, rotate it.  This will then open the cup so it creates an airtight seal that can hold all the menstrual fluid.

Just like a tampon, you shouldn’t be able to feel the menstrual cup if it is inserted correctly and the cup shouldn’t be able to fall out.  Make sure to consult your OBGYN if you’re having trouble putting it in.

When should you take out your menstrual cup?

Depending on your flow, you should take out your menstrual cup after 6 or 12 hours and make sure you take out your cup after 12 hours.

Taking out your menstrual cup is simple, here is how you do it:

  1. Make sure to wash your hands
  2. Just like how you would pull  out a tampon, take your index finger and thumb near your vagina.  Pull out the stem of the cup until you get to the base of the cup.
  3. Pinch the base of the cup and keep pulling it out.
  4. When the cup is out, empty it into the toilet.

After you’ve taken out the cup, make sure to wash it and wipe it clean before it is reinserted again.  You can use the cup for between six to ten months and then you should get a new one.

Why use a menstrual cup?

Menstrual cups are reusable!  You can use them for a couple of months whereas tampons and pads you have to continually throw away.

Menstrual cups also hold more fluid, you can wear them for up to 12 hours and depending on their size they hold 1-2 oz of blood.  To get a sense of how much more this is, tampons only hold ⅓ of an oz.

Menstrual cups allow you to wear an IUD at the same time.  They DO NOT dislodge an IUD like some myths claim, but make sure to talk to your OBGYN to see if this is the right move for you.

You can have sex while wearing a menstrual cup.  Soft cups can stay in while you’re having sex.  Your partner won’t feel it, and you don’t have to think about period sex leaks.

Menstrual cups are also so much less expensive than pads or tampons.  You only have to pay for a menstrual cup once or twice a year, but pads and tampons need to be purchased each month.

What are the cons of using a menstrual cup?

The cups can be tough to remove or put into your vagina.  It takes a bit of getting used to and to figure out how to best fold the cup so it slides right in.

It can also be hard to find your right size.  Menstrual cups, like clothing and shoes are all different sizes, so you want to make sure you try a couple to see what works best for you.  Again, be sure to consult your OBGYN as they can help you with this decision.

Make sure you’re ok with the material.  Some menstrual cups are made out of latex and people can have an allergy to the material.  Try to find a silicone or rubber material.

It can be a bit messy when you take it out.  You need to remove it every six to twelve hours but you might be in a public restroom or at work, so it might be a bit more difficult to wash it out.

There are so many options when it comes to your period, if you have questions make sure to talk to your doctor and we’re also happy to help with any questions you might have.  Email [email protected] and we’d love to help you!

About the author

Alice Cash is the Marketing Manager for Jubilance by day and an award winning Theatre Director by night.  Leading the podcast Weekly Woman, she loves her candid conversations with women from all over the world about how they live and the amazing things they are doing to make a difference. Alice is also the editor of the bi-monthly newsletter the Jubilee, a blog dedicated to the power of female wellness especially concerning menstruation.  She’s worked in France creating theatre pieces and taught drama and filmmaking to women and children in Haiti.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds two master degrees from NYU and The New School.  Alice has traveled to  40+ countries, including Tibet.  She is a New Yorker and can often be found in Central Park, searching out the best bubble tea, or directing a play, you never know where she’ll show up. @alicesadventuresinwonderworld
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