11 Things Every Woman Needs To Know About The Menstrual Cup

It can be expensive and really annoying to have to constantly spend money on pads and tampons every month when it’s time for your period. A menstrual cup sounds like the perfect product if you hate the disposable items and want another option, but there are some important things to know before you make the swap. Here’s the lowdown.

  1. Menstrual cups save you money. Although they can be more expensive (usually between $25 and $45), a menstrual cup could last you for many years before you have to change it. This also makes it much more convenient than having to purchase personal hygiene products every month, especially if you hate buying tampons.
  2. They’re better for the environment. Plastic pollution is a huge problem we face on earth. Menstrual cups can help to reduce your monthly waste because you don’t have to throw them out the way you throw out your tampons after using them (as well as their packaging).
  3. They can’t get stuck inside you. While you might worry about a menstrual cup getting stuck in your vaginal canal, this can’t happen. However, if you’re really worried about this, choose menstrual cups that have long stems so that you can find them and remove them much easier without stressing about it.
  4. They’re not smelly. One of the biggest concerns some women have with using menstrual cups is that they’re smelly. However, since the menstrual blood doesn’t make contact with air in the way it does with tampons and pads, this reduces the risk of menstrual odor.
  5. They can be worn for many hours. You can wear your menstrual cup for about 12 hours, which is great. However, if you have a heavier flow, then you’ll probably have to remove it earlier.
  6. They can be worn during sex. Although it sounds silly, you don’t have to remove your menstrual cup before having sex. However, this should only be attempted with a disposable menstrual cup since it’s made out of softer material. You should never wear a reusable menstrual cup during sex as these cups are made of long-lasting materials such as silicone and are thicker. They’re also placed lower in the vaginal canal.
  7. They’re not one size fits all. One of the most important things to consider when choosing a menstrual cup is its size. You need to take your vagina length into consideration. If you put your finger into your vagina and feel your cervix (a firm yet smooth structure that looks a bit like a donut) only when it’s all the way into your vagina, then you probably have a long vagina and will need a large cup. You can take a quiz to find the right cup on Put A Cup In It.
  8. They can leak. Unfortunately, menstrual cups are not leak-proof. You have to ensure you insert them correctly to ensure that they don’t make a mess. Follow these instructions for putting in a menstrual cup: fold the cup by pressing one half of it into the other half, then slide the folded-up cup into your vaginal opening, before pushing it gently until it feels comfortable. Finally, twist the base of the cup so that you are guaranteed of it being open.
  9. They might not be great to wear during some exercises. Although you don’t have to worry about uncomfortable chafing when it comes to wearing a menstrual cup during sport, they might not feel that comfortable during exercises that involve lots of bending, such as yoga, as you might feel the cup moving around a little.
  10. They can spill blood everywhere (but you can avoid this). As with anything, it takes some practice to get the hang of removing a menstrual cup. For starters, make sure you’re standing over the toilet or you’re in the shower so that if blood spills you don’t get it all over your clothes. Here’s how to remove a full cup without making a mess. Insert your fingers into the vaginal canal and pinch the cup’s base. Gently and carefully pull it down. Don’t tilt it over when you’re taking it out as that will make the menstrual blood spill everywhere. Once you’ve taken it out, you can empty it into the toilet.
  11. They can cause toxic shock syndrome. You might think that inserting a menstrual cup is safer than a tampon because you don’t have to worry about toxic shock syndrome, but this isn’t true. Although rare, toxic shock can happen with anything that’s inserted into the vagina. Research has found that menstrual cups hold onto toxins, even after they’ve been rinsed. Yikes. To prevent this from affecting you, make sure you purchase more than one cup so you can properly clean one, such as with boiling water, while using another one. And, never leave a menstrual cup inside you for longer than 12 hours.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.