Why Menstrual Cups Are Great For The Environment & For You!
Are you searching for an alternative to tampons or pads? Here’s everything you need to know about the best menstrual cups and why they could work for you.
Periods are a monthly occurrence that brings bad moods, terrible cramps, and a decent amount of mess.
Many of us have grown accustomed to dealing with this unwanted monthly visitor, all while juggling the cost of sanitary items and the discomfort of wearing a tampon or pad to work.
But what if we told you there’s another option? One that is cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and comfortable, too.
If any of those factors piqued your interest, allow us to introduce menstrual cups. Here’s a rundown on the best menstrual cups and why they’re likely the perfect product for you.
What is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups were first developed in 1867. Soft and made of medical-grade silicone or rubber, these cups are inserted into the vagina to collect fluid, which is later disposed of. The cups are reusable, eco-friendly, and often recommended by OB/GYN as a safe alternative to other period products (with a few health exceptions).
To put that environmentally friendly aspect into context: The average person uses up to 15,000 feminine products in their lifetime. A menstrual cup for heavy flow is only replaced a couple of times a year.
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How do menstrual cups work?
After insertion, menstrual cups collect blood instead of soaking it up like a tampon or pad. The cup should be removed every 4-12 hours to dispose of the blood — although how often you need to empty the cup will depend on your period’s flow.
Other factors to keep in mind:
These products aren’t one size fits all. Different types of menstrual cups come in multiple sizes, and it takes a little finessing to find a fit that works for you. You can find a menstrual cup for low cervixes, certain age groups, or beginners.
Because you can insert menstrual cups for long periods, you can wear them to bed. (Tampons should be changed every eight hours.) You may need to change them more frequently when lying down because of potential leakage, though.
The most comfortable menstrual cup is the one that feels light to wear. If you’re experiencing pain, it could be because of an improper fit or period cramps (in which case, grab some over-the-counter pain relievers).
Menstruation cups: How to use them and 3 things to look for
Sure, there’s a learning curve (just like any menstrual product). However, if you’re buying for the first time, look for three things in your menstrual cup review: comfort, fluid capacity, and grip.
This is all about the flexibility of the menstrual discs and how well they conform to your body. Is the cup comfortable? Does it chafe, rub, or fall out?
Ideally, you’ll want a cup that seals to your vaginal walls so that you don’t even realize it’s there. The cup shouldn’t feel painful to insert or use. If pain persists, and you have concerns about wearing one, consider speaking to your gynecologist or general practitioner. A smaller cup may be a better fit, even if you have to empty it more frequently.
2. Fluid capacity
This is all about how much blood a period cup can hold. A small cup can carry a decent amount of fluid, but if you have a particularly hefty period, you may want to explore a larger size so you can remain leak-free.
“Grip” is how snugly the menstrual cup sits vaginally. Don’t insert it like a tampon; the cup needs to rest securely, with a tight seal around the rim to prevent slippage or leaks.
To insert your menstrual cup:
Open up the product package, and follow the instructions. Typically, this means folding the cup in half to inserting it into your vagina. (Don’t worry — they’re collapsible.)
Maneuver the cup around until it’s in a comfortable position.
Once inserted, remove your hand and let the cup unfold.
If it’s the correct size, the cup will seal itself into position.
To empty your menstrual cup:
Sit on the toilet.
Reach inward and grip the base of the menstrual cup.
For easy removal, gently pull the cup downwards until the seal releases.
Dump the blood in the toilet.
Clean the cup off. If you can, rinse it in the sink. Then, put the cup back into place.
To deep-clean your menstrual cup:
Boil a pot of water.
Submerge the cup in the pool of water for a maximum of 10 minutes.
Empty the pot of water, and let the menstrual cup cool to room temperature.
Wash the cup with a mild, water-based soap. Don’t use any oil-based soap.
Rinse the cup, then dry it.
General rules for cleaning:
Your menstrual cup should be cleaned with warm water and an oil-free soap once a day.
Your cup should be deep-cleaned each month at the end of your period cycle.
Overall, the most challenging part of using the menstrual cup is cleaning it. Some folks are understandably uncomfortable with this, especially if they have to deal with the mess in a public restroom.
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Are menstrual cups safe?
Menstrual cups are a great option because they’re safe to use. Although there’s a slight risk for potentially deadly complications from bacterial infections or toxic shock syndrome (TSS), you should be safe as long as you properly clean your device. TSS is often associated with tampon usage because they can promote the growth of bacteria.
Factors that can increase your risk of TSS:
Leaving the menstrual cup in place past the recommended time limit
Additionally, menstrual cups are a Class II Medical Device, as recorded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means they’re “FDA cleared” like their feminine hygiene counterparts.
Who should use menstrual cups?
Menstrual cups are great for anyone who menstruates and has an interest in an eco-friendly and cost-effective option. While cups are not “one size fits all” for women’s health, neither are pads or tampons. All three products are designed to fit individual preferences and needs.
A few factors may make menstrual cups a poor fit for you:
Embarrassment over changing your cup in a public washroom
Embarrassment over washing away menstrual blood in a sink
Embarrassment over inserting the cup into your body vaginally
Note: Don’t try a reusable menstrual cup if you’re allergic to silicone or rubber or are currently pregnant.
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Which is the best menstrual cup for beginners?
Finally, we want to mention a few period cups for beginners that are easy to insert and comfortable.
Of course, there are many brands and models, so it may require some trial and error to find the right fit.
Both options are available right here on Gopuff, made available online to ship right to your door. That way, you don’t have to go to the store; instead, you can focus on nursing your period cramps in bed while watching Netflix with snacks. We recommend making some chocolate chip cookies or even an entire cake to numb the pain if you're feeling up to it. Gopuff can help with that, too.