When you got your first period as a teen, your mom or tita instantly knew what to do: She went to the restroom, whipped out a napkin or sanitary pad, and taught you how to use it. And for the longest time, that was the only menstrual hygiene product you knew. Then, western media introduced you to tampons—something you were probably curious about but hesitant to use because it involves insertion. But in the last few years, another product has increased in popularity: menstruation or menstrual cups.
Unlike napkins and tampons, a menstruation cup is a reusable feminine hygiene product. Because of this, using one is cheaper in the long run. Like with other options, there are some risks to using one, but in general, menstrual cups are considered relatively safe. Read on to learn more about menstruation cups.
Menstruation cup: how to use
A menstrual cup is shaped like a funnel and is made out of either rubber or silicone; this makes the cup flexible. Before attempting to insert a menstrual cup into your vagina, make sure your hands and the product itself are clean. Then, hold the base of the cup with one hand and flatten the cup by folding it vertically to make a "C." Get into a comfortable position; some women lift one leg up while others squat. Before you insert the menstrual cup into your vagina, the most important thing is to relax. If you're worried, there's also the option of "greasing" your menstruation cup with water or a water-based lubricant.
The cup should "sit" comfortably below your cervix. To make sure the cup has unfolded or opened inside, tug on the stem. If you feel some resistance, you should be good to go. If you're a virgin, yes, you can still use a cup. It might be uncomfortable at first, so we suggest using a smaller size until you adjust to this feminine hygiene product.
Depending on how heavy your period flow is, you can use a menstrual cup anywhere from six to 12 hours. This means you can use it overnight. Don't forget to check it once you hit the 12-hour mark, though, to avoid any leaks.
Menstruation cup: pros and cons
Pros of using a menstrual cup
- It's a more affordable option in the long run. Think about it: You pay one time for something you can use over and over again for at least a decade.
- It's eco-friendly. If you're conscious about the amount of waste you produce, you might want to seriously switch to a menstruation cup. Most sanitary pads are 90 percent plastic and tampons are made from cotton. Silicon, on the other hand, is a much greener option.
- It holds more blood than napkins or tampons. A menstruation cup can hold one to two ounces of period flow, which is twice the amount of what a napkin or tampon can take.
- It's safer. The way a menstruation cup works—it collects blood instead of absorbs it—there's lower risk of experiencing toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
Cons of using a menstrual cup
- It might be slightly uncomfortable in the beginning. As mentioned, a cup needs to be inserted into the vagina, and you might not find the right "fit" the first time you try.
- Taking it out can be tricky. And messy. After all, it's a cup holding your period blood. Get in a squat position and use your pelvic muscles to push the cup out while you're holding on to the stem.
- It might get in the way of sex. There are now disposable menstrual cups, which are softer than the regular ones, so you can have sex while wearing that specific type. However, if you're using a regular cup to spare the environment extra waste, you'll have to take it out before you have sex.
- You might be allergic to the material. Because, hey, it happens. Some people are allergic to rubber or silicone.
Menstruation cup: how to clean
It's actually super easy to clean your menstrual cup! All you need is to rinse it in hot water and soap. Some people also use a cleaning spray. Make sure to rinse your cup thoroughly until all the residue is gone. There's also the option of boiling your cup to make it *extra* clean. It might be extra work but hey, better safe than sorry, right?