Menstrual Cups – Things You Should Know
The affordable and comfortable feminine hygiene products are breaking the stigma associated with periods in women. A menstrual cup is one such woman empowering product that helps women to embrace freedom with open arms.
Although menstrual cups were introduced way back in the 1860s, these have become popular recently due to improved design and comfortable usage because of soft silicone construction.
Keep reading this article as we will discuss the general queries related to menstrual cups so that you pick the best product for maintaining optimal, safe, and hassle-free female hygiene.
Is a Menstrual Cup an Ideal Menstrual Period Product?
A menstrual cup is a funnel-shaped, flexible, and small cup that serves as a feminine hygiene product. It is a reusable cup made of rubber or silicone that can be easily inserted into the vagina for catching and collecting menstrual fluids.
These are eco-friendly cups that can last for many years. As compared to other methods of holding blood during periods, a menstrual cup can hold more blood. Moreover, you can wear a cup for as long as 12 hours, depending on your menstrual flow.
How Does a Menstrual Cup Work?
The flexibility of silicone or latex rubber makes a menstrual cup an ideal period product for inserting into the vagina and collecting the blood. It works differently than a tampon or a sanitary pad that absorbs the blood.
Many are sceptical about how to use a menstrual cup. To use it perfectly, you need to fold the menstrual cup tightly and insert it just like a tampon. Then, if you have placed it correctly, you won’t even feel it and keep on doing your daily chores without any discomfort.
Once you have inserted the menstrual cup, rotate it to open up and rest against vaginal walls. A menstrual cup forms an air-tight seal that prevents leaks. Thus, this cup simply collects the blood that drips into it.
A menstrual cup can collect the blood volume of an entire menstrual cycle. The menstrual cups come in two variants, including disposable and reusable cups.
When you need to remove the menstrual cup, simply pull the stem projecting from the bottom and compress the base for releasing the seal. Then, throw away the disposable menstrual cups and use the reusable cups again.
The reusable cups can be emptied, washed with a soapy solution, and used again. Once your menstrual cycle is over, sterilize the cup in boiling water.
Do Menstrual Cups Hurt?
Do menstrual cups feel uncomfortable or hurt? This is a commonly asked question regarding menstrual cups. However, you need not worry at all while using these cups, as these are easy to insert and place in the vagina due to their soft and flexible construction.
In fact, many women can’t feel as if they have inserted it inside their vagina. It provides pain-free insertion; however, you need to practice the ideal insertion technique to open it entirely inside the vagina and create an air-tight and leak-proof seal.
The flexible silicone material warms up inside the body to match the body heat. Thus, menstrual cups don’t hurt and once inserted, you hardly remember carrying it within you.
Are Menstrual Cups Safe?
As long as you maintain the safety instructions, the menstrual cups are safe to use. However, menstrual cups carry potential health risks similar to tampons if you do not use them correctly.
As per the review of studies published in the Lancet, menstrual cups provide a safe, effective, and affordable way of managing the periods. If you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, the menstrual cups are as safe as any other internal period product.
Many women have used menstrual cups without experiencing any serious complications. Let’s discuss the few potential risks associated with the usage of menstrual cups.
Like any other menstrual product, the most common issue related to menstrual cups is leakage. However, the leakage usually occurs if you haven’t fit the cup correctly or it gets full.
To avoid the leakage issue, ensure to empty the cup regularly and fit it perfectly while inserting it. A well-fit menstrual cup forms a tight seal around the vaginal wall, and it does not move from its position.
Rashes and Allergic Reactions
In some rare cases, a menstrual cup may cause a skin allergy or allergic reaction. You may experiment with different brands to pick the one that suits you perfectly.
Pain and Minor Injuries
If you insert a menstrual cup roughly or use an incorrect cup size, you may experience pain or minor injuries. However, if you use the correct cup size and insert the cup carefully, there are minimal chances of experiencing severe pain or injuries while inserting and using a menstrual cup.
IUD Dislodgment or Expulsion
There is a very rare chance of IUD dislodgement or expulsion with menstrual cup usage. However, as the IUD expulsion during periods is commonly reported with or without using the menstrual cups, it cannot be explained due to the menstrual cycle.
In rare cases, you may experience certain urinary issues as inserting any external object into the vagina may cause bacterial infection and irritate the urethra.
If you do not place the menstrual cup correctly, it may even block the urethra and cause problems in urination. In even more rare cases, it may result in hydronephrosis.
The incorrect placement of the menstrual cup inside the vagina may be the underlying cause of all these urinary issues. To avoid these issues, learn how to place the menstrual cup perfectly.
No evidence suggests that using menstrual cups poses a higher risk of infections as compared with menstrual period products.
If you do not keep your menstrual cup clean and hygienic, then it may increase the risk of infections. However, it can be easily avoided by maintaining the proper cleanliness of your cups.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
A strain of Staphylococcus aureus causes TSS, and it is widely attributed to tampons because of their highly absorbent materials. However, in some rare cases, it is also reported in women who have used menstrual cups.
Thus, there are significantly fewer chances of infection, pain, or urinary problems due to menstrual cups. However, you should consult a gynaecologist immediately if you experience any such issues.
You can avoid most of these issues by using the menstrual cups correctly as per the recommended guidelines.
What are the Drawbacks of Using Menstrual Cups?
Menstrual cups provide a safe, affordable and eco-friendly option as a menstrual period product; however, these come with their share of disadvantages.
Removing the Menstrual Cup May Get Messy
Sometimes removing your menstrual cup may land you in messy or embarrassing situations. You may find it awkward or difficult to remove the cup. It may also cause the spillage of menstrual fluids during the removal.
Removing the menstrual cup can get tricky as you need to sit or squat and apply pelvic floor muscles to push the cup downwards and grab the stem.
It is recommended to pinch the base to break the seal and angle the cup backwards slightly to avoid any spillage.
Inserting the Menstrual Cup Correctly Requires Practice
Inserting the menstrual cup correctly takes a bit of practice. If a menstrual cup is not placed correctly inside your vagina, you should take it out and re-insert it perfectly. Once inserted, your menstrual cup should open completely and form an air-tight seal.
You may not fit your menstrual cup in one try and may require practice and patience to learn the technique. Moreover, it may cause discomfort if the cup is inserted without any lubrication.
Challenging to Find the Right Fit
The menstrual cups come in various sizes, and it’s challenging to find the one that is the right fit for you. You have to consider multiple factors for choosing the menstrual cup, including your age, pregnancy, cup capacity, cervix length, firmness and flexibility of cup, etc.
In the beginning, you may experience leakage and need to experiment with a few brands before zeroing in on the perfect menstrual cup that perfectly matches your needs.
Allergic to the Material
Although most menstrual cups are latex-free, some women may experience allergic reactions if they are allergic to silicone or rubber material.
Requires Thorough Cleaning
A menstrual cup requires proper cleaning after it is emptied and inserted again. Moreover, once the menstrual cycle gets over, you need to sterilize it with boiling water. If you don’t clean it properly, it may cause infection.
How to Find Your Perfect Menstrual Cup Size?
It’s tricky to know a menstrual cup size that fits you perfectly. You should discuss with your doctor and consider the following factors to figure out the right menstrual cup size.
- Length of cervix
- Presence or absence of heavy menstrual flow
- Flexibility and firmness of the cup
- Cup capacity
- Strength of pelvic floor muscles
- Whether you have delivered vaginally
Generally, smaller menstrual cups are recommended for women younger than 30 years and who haven’t delivered vaginally.
On the other hand, larger menstrual cups are recommended for women who have delivered vaginally, are older than 30 years, and have heavier periods.
How Long Can You Keep a Menstrual Cup Within Your Vagina?
Generally, you can keep most of the menstrual cups inside the vagina for up to 12 hours. After that, you need to remove it with clean and disinfected hands. Then, empty the contents of the cup and wash it thoroughly by using a mild and fragrance-free soap before inserting it again.
Ideally, you should remove and empty your menstrual cup twice a day during periods. You can also leave it inside the vagina overnight. You can perform workouts and go swimming with a menstrual cup inside you.