You can keep it in for up to 12 hours and you only need one which can last up to 10 years. The menstrual cup! But how to use this cup exactly and what to keep in mind when buying one?
Menstrual cups are flexible cups that are worn internally. Instead of absorbing the menstrual blood, like tampons do, they catch and collect it. Usually they’re made of silicone, but sometimes also of rubber (latex) or TPE. There are two kinds: reusable and disposable single use cups. Here, we’ll focus on how to use the reusable cup.
Pick the right size
Some brands only have two different sizes: one for if you’ve already given birth vaginally and one for if you haven’t. With others, choosing the right size sometimes seems like advanced mathematics. Because with a menstrual cup, it isn’t about how heavy your flow is. Instead, it all depends on your physique. What’s your body type? Are you tall or short? How old are you? Have you already been pregnant? Are you still a virgin? Do you maybe have a tilted uterus or very strong pelvic floor muscles? And, last but not least, can you easily reach your cervix with your finger?
Suitable for everyone?
Nope. Read also the ‘inserting’ part below. Try a mini tampon first if you aren’t used to inserting something in your body. If this feels comfortable, you are ready for step two (a cup). Ask your GP or gynaecologist for advice if you’re using an IUD (and wait at least six weeks after the IUD placement before starting with a cup). There have been cases where an IUD came loose when the cup was removed. Displacement or expulsion can happen due to the suction of the cup (if the vacuum isn’t broken properly) or due to anatomical reasons. Always check if you can still feel the strings from your IUD after removing the cup.
Always clean the cup before each first use by sterilising it. This is best done by putting it in boiling water for a couple of minutes. There’s also special cup wash and cup wipes. After removing the cup and emptying it (in the toilet), clean it by washing under running water before inserting again.
There are a couple of different folding methods, but eventually they all come down to the same thing: making the rim of the cup as small as possible to make inserting easier. The most popular option is the C-shape: squeeze the cup flat and fold it in half lengthwise so the rim makes a C-shape. Insert the cup into the vagina rim-first. You can make insertion easier by wetting the cup (with water or water-based lubricant). Unlike a tampon, there’s no need to push the cup in as far as possible. Inside the vagina, it’ll unfold automatically and rest against your vagina wall, forming a seal to prevent leaks. Once the cup is inserted correctly, you shouldn’t feel it. Of course, always wash your hands before inserting or removing.
Remove the cup by reaching for it with your fingers and slowly squeezing the bottom part a bit. This will break the suction seal and will allow you to remove it. Don’t just pull on the stem as this might hurt and cause the contents to spill.
Because you wear the cup internally, you don’t see it. Convenient for when you’re in the sauna or exercising. You can keep it in pretty long (up to 12 hours, depending on how heavy your flow is). Because the blood doesn’t come in contact with oxygen, it doesn’t smell. Menstrual cups are reusable, so way better for the environment – and for your wallet. Also, you get to know your body and your cycle better; using the cup might for example prove that you lose less blood than you think. They’re softer for your body as well: because they collect the menstrual fluid instead of absorb, they don’t dry out the vagina.
Getting the right size for your body type can be tricky. And it also takes some time to get used to the cup. Suppliers advise to have patience and try it out for about three cycles before giving up. Removing a full cup can become a bit of a mess, especially if you’re a beginner. After a while, you’re usually able to do this on a public toilet though. Even one that doesn’t have a sink – just use paper or special wet wipes to clean before inserting.
Did you know
Menstrual cups aren’t a new invention at all. In the USA, they were already patented back in 1932!