Menstrual cups are considered a better option compared to other period products. Read on to know if it is a safer option for you or not!

While there are several menstrual products available in the market, menstrual cups are gaining popularity for their comfort and sustainability. A menstrual cup is a flexible, bell-shaped cup typically made of medical-grade silicone or rubber. It can be worn inside your vagina to collect menstrual blood for up to 10 to 12 hours at a time. If you keep it clean, a single menstrual cup can last for several years, making it a cost-effective and eco-friendly option. Just like other products, the menstrual cup also comes in various sizes to accommodate different flow levels. Despite their benefits, some women may hesitate to use them due to discomfort with insertion. However, with practice and proper guidance, many find menstrual cups to be a game-changer in managing their periods.

How to choose the right menstrual cup?

Just like sanitary pads, menstrual cups come in various sizes to help women with light, heavy, and super-heavy flows. Here’s how to choose your menstrual cup size:

1. Teenagers

For teens who haven’t had penetrative sex, a small cup is recommended.

2. Never been pregnant

If you never had a baby, you should go for a medium or small-sized menstrual cup.

3. Vaginal childbirth

If you’ve given birth vaginally, a large-sized cup is ideal.

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menstrual cup size
Menstrual cups come in various sizes. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Childbirth via surgery

For those who’ve had a C-section, a medium or small size is suitable for them.

5. Heavy flow

If you are over 35 years old and experience heavy flows, you are advised to use a large menstrual cup size.

6. Average flow

Those women who are aged 25-35, have average flow, first-time users, or teenagers can opt for small-size menstrual cups.

Remember, while these may be basic size guidelines, you must also keep in mind how heavy or light your period flow is.

How to use a menstrual cup?

Using a menstrual cup can seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a convenient and eco-friendly alternative to pads and tampons. There are several folding techniques to insert a menstrual cup, with the most common being the C fold, 7 fold, and push-down fold.

1. U-fold or c-fold

  • Wash your hands and cup properly before using it.
  • Take your menstrual cup and press the sides of the cup with your fingers, so that the lips of the cup touch.
  • Next, simply fold the cup in half, along the length to create a U or C shape.
  • Take a deep breath and insert the folded cup into your vagina, pushing it upward.
  • Once inside, release the fold and let the cup pop open inside you.
  • You can use your finger to ensure it’s fully expanded around your vaginal walls.

2. 7-fold

  • After cleaning the menstrual cup, fold the cup in half so that the lips touch.
  • Now pull down the right side to form a ‘7’ shape with the lips of the cup.
  • Now, take a deep breath to relax your muscles and slowly insert the folded cup into your vaginal opening (Use your fingers to move your vaginal lips apart).
  • Once inside, release the fold and allow the cup to open fully. Use your finger to check for proper positioning.
menstrual cup
Menstrual cups are very safe to use. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Push-down fold or punch-down fold

  • Hold your menstrual cup at the base with your left hand.
  • Use your right hand, and place your index finger on the top of the cup rim.
  • Now, push it down into the base and pinch it to hold the position.
  • Push the sides together and hold it firmly, with your left hand.
  • Keep it folded, until it is inside your vagina.

Note: Remember, no matter which folding technique you are using, when you’re inserting your menstrual cup, you need to keep it folded until it is inside your vagina.

How to clean a menstrual cup?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to cleaning a menstrual cup:

  • If you are using the menstrual cup for the first time, it is important to sterilise or boil it for about 5 to 10 minutes. (Keep a separate pan at home and sterilise it.)
  • During periods, wash your hands, remove the cup, unclog the blood, and wash it before using it again.
  • Rinse the cup with cold water to prevent staining, then wash it with warm water. You may also use a mild, unscented soap to clean it.
  • Make sure to thoroughly rinse off all soap residue.

Sometimes you might need extra care when washing the holes or if there is a foul smell in the cup. Consider the sterilisation process to clean it properly. After this process, make sure you are letting it air dry completely before reinserting it.

Cleaning menstrual cup
It is easy to clean a menstrual cup. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

When to change a menstrual cup?

It’s recommended to empty and clean your menstrual cup every 8-12 hours, depending on your flow. If you have a heavier flow, you may need to empty it more frequently. While a menstrual cup can last up to 10-12 years, it can get damaged. So, it is better to replace your menstrual cup every 1-2 years, if there are any signs of damage.

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How to remove a menstrual cup?

  • Step 1: Usually, remove your cup every 8 to 12 hours, depending on your flow. Wash your hands thoroughly. It’s best to be near a toilet or have a surface covered to prevent spilling blood.
  • Step 2: Gently rotate the cup to break the seal. Once the suction is loosened, pinch the base of the cup and carefully pull it out.
  • Step 3: Empty the cup into the toilet and flush the toilet. If you want to re-insert the cup, wash it off with plain water and use a clean tissue to wipe the cup before reinserting.

Benefits of using a menstrual cup

Menstrual cups offer numerous benefits, making them a popular choice among women seeking a sustainable and comfortable alternative to traditional menstrual products like pads and tampons. Here are 5 reasons why you must switch to menstrual cups:

1. Eco-friendly

Menstrual cups are eco-friendly. Unlike disposable pads and tampons, which contribute to significant waste, menstrual cups are reusable and can last for years with proper care. This reduces the environmental impact associated with menstrual waste, making it a more sustainable option.

2. Saves money

Menstrual cups are cost-effective. While the initial investment may be higher than purchasing disposable products, the long-term savings are substantial. With proper care, a single menstrual cup can last for several years, eliminating the need for monthly purchases of pads or tampons.

3. Safe for longer periods

You need to change your tampon every 4-8 hours but menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, depending on your flow. This means fewer trips to the restroom compared to traditional products.

menstrual cup
It can be wear for a longer period of time. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Good for vaginal health

Unlike tampons, which can absorb natural vaginal moisture and disrupt the vaginal pH balance, menstrual cups collect menstrual fluid without interfering with the body’s natural processes. This can reduce the risk of vaginal infections and irritation, making menstrual cups a healthier option for women.

5. Leak protection

When inserted correctly, menstrual cups are highly effective at preventing leaks during their periods. This can be especially beneficial for activities such as swimming, exercising, or traveling, where leaks can be particularly inconvenient.

Disadvantages of using a menstrual cup

While menstrual cups offer numerous benefits, they may not be suitable for everyone, and there are some disadvantages you should know:

1. Tough to find the right fit

Choosing the correct size and shape of a menstrual cup can be challenging. Some users may need to try multiple brands or sizes before finding one that fits comfortably and prevents leakage. This can be frustrating and time-consuming.

2. Removal can be messy

Removing a menstrual cup, especially for beginners, can be messy. If not removed carefully, spills and leaks can occur, leading to discomfort.

3. Interfere with IUD

intrauterine device (IUD) is a type of contraception that are placed inside the uterus to avoid pregnancy. There is a risk that using a menstrual cup could interfere with IUD, leading to displacement or expulsion. This risk is higher for those with low cervixes or improperly placed IUDs. Women using both a cup and an IUD should consult with their healthcare provider to ensure proper placement and minimise the risk of complications.

menstrual cup
Consult with your doctor about IUDs and menstrual cups. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Hygiene issues

While menstrual cups are reusable and can be cleaned between uses, proper hygiene practices are essential. Otherwise, it may cause bacterial growth and infections. You must thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling the cup, sterilise it between cycles, and store it in a clean, dry place.

5. Discomfort or pain

Some women may experience discomfort or even pain when using a menstrual cup. This discomfort can be due to improper insertion, a poor fit, or sensitivity to the material of the cup.

So, now you know why you should use a menstrual cup and what difficulties you might face. While the decision about trying is completely yours, we suggest you give it a try!

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