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  • Writer's pictureValinda

To Cup or Not to Cup: A Look at the Pros and Cons of Menstrual Cups

In the United States, a staggering 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons end up in landfills every year, contributing to environmental waste on a massive scale. Yet, amidst this tide of disposables, there are eco-friendly alternatives gaining momentum. From reusable pads to innovative menstrual underwear, one standout solution is the menstrual cup. Its popularity is on the rise as women seek sustainable options for feminine hygiene. Globally, approximately 1.9 billion women, comprising around 26% of the population, navigate menstruation each year, collectively spending an average of 65 days dealing with menstrual flow. This underscores the urgency for sustainable menstrual products that offer both environmental benefits and practical solutions for women worldwide.


What is a Menstrual cup?

Imagine a tiny, eco-friendly superhero for your period! That's the menstrual cup—a reusable, flexible cup made of silicone designed to collect your menstrual flow. It's like a personalized fit for your body, coming in various shapes and sizes tailored to your age, flow, and whether you've given birth vaginally. Think of it as your period's perfect sidekick, offering comfort and convenience while reducing environmental waste.


How to use a menstrual cup

Using a menstrual cup may feel a bit awkward at first, and getting the hang of it can take some practice. But fear not! Finding your groove with this nifty period companion is totally doable. I've mastered a technique where I fold the cup in half, creating a neat little U shape. With a relaxed posture and a slight forward tilt of my pelvis, I ease the cup into place, using one hand to gently maneuver while the other keeps things tidy. Once inside, the cup unfolds magically, forming a seal that keeps leaks at bay. Pro tip: if you can still feel it, it might need a little readjustment. Oh, and for those with a lower cervix, a quick snip of the stem can work wonders for comfort. With a bit of practice, inserting and wearing a menstrual cup becomes a breeze, leaving you free to conquer your day, leak-free!

folding a menstrual cup - The Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

How to Remove

When it's time to remove your menstrual cup, it's crucial to release the vacuum seal first to avoid any discomfort during removal. Just like when you're inserting the cup, start by relaxing and tilting your pelvis forward to make reaching your vagina easier. With finesse, use one hand to gently move aside your inner labia while the other hand gives the cup a slight squeeze to break the seal. Now, with a gentle tug on the stem, you can safely remove the cup. Take care not to spill its contents and create a mess. Once removed, give the cup a quick rinse before reinserting it for continued comfort and protection.

How to Clean

After your period wraps up, it's crucial to give your menstrual cup a thorough cleanse. Simply pop it into boiling water for around 5 minutes to zap away any lingering bacteria and keep things sanitary. Once sterilized, let your cup air dry completely before tucking it away for the next cycle. It's a quick and easy routine that ensures your cup stays fresh and ready for whenever Aunt Flo pays her next visit!


How often to change a Menstrual Cup

While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, most manufacturers recommend emptying and rinsing your cup every 6 to 12 hours, depending on your flow. This means you can wear it throughout the day and night without worries. However, if you have a heavier flow, you might need to empty it more frequently. Remember, it's essential to follow the instructions provided with your cup and listen to your body's signals. With proper care and attention, your menstrual cup can be a reliable and eco-friendly companion during your period


The Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

Problems and Solutions when using a Menstrual Cup


Can't put the menstrual cup in

Struggling to insert a menstrual cup is a common concern. If you're finding it tricky to get the cup in place, take a deep breath and relax. It's essential to find a comfortable position, whether it's squatting, sitting on the toilet, or standing with one leg raised. Using water-based lubricants can also make the process smoother. Remember, patience is key! Experiment with different folds until you find one that works best for you. Don't be afraid to try different sizes or brands if the first one doesn't seem to fit right. And if you're still having trouble, don't hesitate to reach out to online communities or healthcare professionals for guidance. With a little perseverance and some trial and error, you'll soon be a menstrual cup pro!


Wearing a Menstrual Cup is Uncomfortable

First, take a deep breath and try to relax your pelvic muscles. Sometimes, tension can make the cup feel more uncomfortable. Next, gently try adjusting the position of the cup by rotating or wiggling it slightly. Experimenting with different folding techniques during insertion can also make a difference. If the discomfort persists, consider removing the cup and reinserting it using a different angle or technique. It's essential to take your time and be patient with yourself as you figure out what works best for your body. Remember, finding the right fit and technique may require some trial and error, but once you do, you'll likely find that the comfort and convenience of a menstrual cup are well worth the effort.


My Menstrual Cup is Leaking

First, try to identify the cause of the leakage. It could be due to improper insertion, inadequate seal, or the cup being too full. If it's a matter of insertion or seal, carefully remove the cup, rinse it with water, and reinsert it, ensuring a proper seal this time. If the cup is full, simply empty it and reinsert. Remember, finding the right placement and angle for your body may take some experimentation.

several menstrual cups in a row - The Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

Pros


Eco-Friendly

Disposable menstrual products produce an incredible amount of waste which on its own should be enough of a reason to try a menstrual cup. A menstrual cup does not produce any waste so, switching to reusable feminine hygiene products is a great step in the right direction for the environment.


Save money

A menstrual cup is more expensive compared to a box of tampons but a menstrual last you for up to 10 years while a box of tampons lasts you maybe one cycle. This means that throughout the lifecycle of a menstrual cup, you can save a lot of money.


How much do you save with a menstrual cup?

The average woman uses about 5 tampons a day during her period which lasts 5 days on average. This is 25 tampons per cycle. We have 12 cycles per year which result in 300 tampons per year or 3000 in 10 years. Organic cotton tampons cost about $0,25 a piece which results in $750,- over 10 years.

Even if you would purchase a new menstrual cup each year (which costs about $20,- a piece), disposable products would still be more expensive.

menstrual cup - The Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

Less frequent changes

Depending on your flow you can wear your menstrual cup for up to 12 hours. Which is a great advantage of a menstrual cup.

Disposable products you need to change about every 4 hours. This can be annoying as you need to plan your day around the possibility to change your product regularly.

Increased capacity

A menstrual cup can hold 1 ounce of liquid/30 ml, which is about twice the amount of a super-absorbent tampon or pad.


Improved vaginal health

We all know how important vaginal health is. Any slight disruption in the body such as stress, diet, or medication can cause an imbalance.

Pads can create a warm, moist environment that encourages the growth of bacteria. These undesirable bacteria can end up causing discomfort, irritation, and smell.

On the other hand, tampons can also upset your vagina’s natural pH balance. The high absorption in tampons can absorb all the bacteria from your vagina, both good and bad, as well as menstrual blood.

The removal of this good bacteria could create an imbalance in your pH level. A menstrual cup does not absorb anything but collects your flow while keeping the environment of the vagina in balance.

woman holding a menstrual cup - The Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

No chemicals

Regular tampons contain a lot of chemicals like bleach (to make them white), synthetic fibers (for extra absorbance), and fragrance (for a nice smell).

When you use a menstrual cup, your body does not come in contact with these chemicals.


Fewer cramps

This may differ per person but, some women (me included) have less menstrual pain when they use a menstrual cup. This is because the cup puts a little pressure on the muscles of your uterus, which are responsible for the cramps. With a menstrual cup, these muscles can’t contract as much and as a result, the cramps lessen.


No smell

Unfortunately, when blood comes in contact with air for a long time, an unpleasant odor will develop. When you use pads, there is no way to prevent this. Even though it is perfectly natural, many feel uncomfortable about it.

A menstrual cup contains the flow within the cup so it doesn’t come in contact with air and now smell will develop.

a menstrual cup - The Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

Reduced chance of leaking

When inserted correctly, menstrual cups form a seal to your vaginal walls, reducing your chances of leaking.


Reduced risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

While any menstrual product carries some risk of TSS if not used properly, menstrual cups are not associated with TSS in the same way that tampons are.


Less irritation

Wings from pads are known to irritate and even strings from tampons can be annoying and can even cause leaking. As a correctly placed menstrual cup is completely internal there is no irritation.


Cons


Learning curve

Just like mastering any new skill, there's a learning curve involved. From figuring out the right fold to understanding your body's unique anatomy, each step is a discovery in itself. Initially, you might encounter a few hiccups—maybe the cup doesn't quite sit right or feels a tad uncomfortable. But with patience and persistence, you'll unlock the secrets of a snug fit and leak-free days. It's a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, where every twist and turn leads to newfound confidence and freedom.


Difficult to insert

The first time you use a menstrual cup it is rather difficult but after a few periods, you will notice it will get easier. There are different ways to insert one and it may take a few tries to find a technique that works for you. Just to be safe, use extra protection like an eco-friendly pad or menstrual underwear to avoid leaks until you are confident with the technique.


hand with menstrual cup - The Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

Difficult to remove

Just as for the insertion, the removal also requires technique. Most cups have a stem, but you don’t want to just pull the stem to remove them (this hurts). Instead, use the stem to guide you to find the base of the cup. Pinch the base to break the vacuum and gently pull it out.


Cleaning

Unlike disposable menstrual products, you need to take care of your menstrual cup. This means cleaning your cup between each menstrual cycle. There is no need to sterilize your menstrual cup every time you empty it during your period. But after your period, you can easily sterilize your cup in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes.

Messy

Emptying your menstrual cup can be messy and quite intimidating, especially if it is your first time and you have a hard time with blood. This unfortunately is something you just have to get over with. Blဝဝd and periods are natural things and on average, women menstruate from 12 to 45 years old. This means 33 years with a cycle once a month is 400 periods of about 6 days. This is 2400 period days or 6,5 years. That is a lot of blood so you better get used to it.


Possible fit problems

Every person is different and individual anatomy can make finding the right cup for you challenging. Luckily there is plenty of option available for different shapes and sizes. Read the description carefully as trying different sizes is not possible.


hands with a menstrual cup - The Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

IUD interference

If you have an IUD in place, using a menstrual cup could pull the IUD strings and dislodge them. This is because the menstrual cup is sealed within your vagina meaning there is a vacuum. This needs to be broken before you remove the cup. However, if you pull without breaking the vacuum there is a pull on your cervix which could dislodge your IUD.


Allergic reactions

While rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the materials used in menstrual cups, such as silicone or latex.


Cost upfront

Although menstrual cups can save money in the long run compared to disposable menstrual products, the initial cost of purchasing a cup may be higher than buying a box of tampons or pads.


More Sustainable Personal Hygiene

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Meet Valinda

Hi there, I am the founder of the green and happy mom blog and green and happy shop. After battling severe depression, I am determined to make the world a little better and I want to take you along that journey with me. 

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