Like many other females, I too have used sanitary pads during my periods since menarche and feared to experiment with a menstrual cup. I remember when I first heard about it, so many questions bubbled in my brain:
What is menstrual cup?
Is period cup safe and comfortable?
What if a menstrual cup leeks?
Can period cup slip and lost inside the vagina?
How to use and clean a period cup?
I have friends who after using the period cup for a few months said that their life changed and even during periods, they feel like they are not at all bleeding.
No doubt if you do not require changing pads or tampons every 4-6 hours, and still can enjoy leak-free and rash free periods, it is a blessing.
To clear my doubts that were holding me to use period cups, I decided to visit my gynaecologist and gave this topic a thorough search on the internet.
The gathered information is shared in this article in hope every woman out there will find it useful.
What Is Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product. It is a reusable cup made up of silicone or rubber to catch and collect the menstrual period blood. It is funnel-shaped and is flexible and small. You can wear it up to12 hours depending on your flow. As it is made up of non-porous material such as a thermoplastic elastomer or medical grade silicone, it is safe and ideal for internal period care.
The best thing is that you can even wear period cup with IUD and can poop or pee or even have a safe sex without taking it out.
How Much Blood a Menstrual Cup Can Hold?
On an average, a female bleeds about 2-3 tablespoon i.e. 1.5 ounce during each periods. Research also suggest that this figure may go up to 4 tablespoon in some females. A menstrual cup can hold around 1-2 once of flow.
How to Use Menstrual Cup?
To use menstrual cup you need to acknowledge the right size that will fit you. You can buy it from a store or online. Most of the trusted brands sell both large and small version. Meet your gynaecologist to find out what size is for you. Select a menstrual cup based on following points:
- Your age
- Cervix length
- Period flow
- The capacity of the cup
- Flexibility and firmness of the cup
- Pelvic floor strength
- If you have delivered vaginally.
Females below 30 years, who have not yet delivered vaginally is usually recommended the smaller size. Females above 30 years of age or who have delivered vaginally or have a heavier period is recommended the larger cup.
Putting the Menstrual Cup In
If you ever used tampon then it will be easy for you to put in a period cup. Follow the steps given below:
- Wash your hand with soap and water.
- Apply water-based lubricant or water to the rim of the period cup
- Now holding the cup in one hand and fold the cup tightly into half. Make sure rim is facing up.
- With rim facing outside and up insert the cup into the vagina and make, it sit a few inches below the cervix.
- The cup on entering the vagina will open up to create an airtight seal that prevents leakage.
After How Many Hours You Should Empty the Menstrual Cup?
You can wear a period cup for 12 hours. This means you can enjoy a good night sleep without worrying about the leakage. Nevertheless, how long you should take to empty the cup depends on whether the flow is heavy or light. If the period cup fills before 12 hours, you will have to empty it before to avoid leakage. To know how much time it takes in the individual case for the cup to fill check every couple of hours then check every four hours until you get a sense of how long it takes the period cup to fill.
However, do remember all your effort should be not to go over 12 hours. If due to any reason, this happens instead of getting panic empty as soon as possible. If you experience unusual symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
How to Take Menstrual Cup Out?
- To take menstrual cup out, first clean your hands properly.
- Now pull the stem of the cup gently with your thumb and index finger until you reach the base of cup
- Release the seal by pinching the base and then pull the cup out
- Empty it in toilet or sink.
How to Clean the Period Cup?
Cleaning and caring for the cup properly is very important or it may cause irritation.
and wipe clean the reusable period cup before inserting it again into the
vagina. Even if your flow is less, it is advised at least to empty your cup two
times a day.
It is effortless to clean. First rinse it will cold water to avoid any kind of stain and then use hot water (tolerable temperature) and a ‘cup safe soap’ to wash it. While washing under the water rub the cup between your hands.
To clean the air holes fill the cup with water, place your palm on it and turn it quickly upside down. Squeeze so that water squirts out of the air holes and get clean instantly. You may also use a delicate toothbrush or a blunt toothpick soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean the air holes. *Do not use a sharp needle or pins for this purpose. You may also use gentle soaps with pH level mild to acidic that are free of perfumes, additives harsh dyes and oil.
*Never put the menstrual cup in the dishwasher.
Females who need to empty menstrual cup more than two times in a day may opt to rinse the cup with warm water in between the two washes.
How to Clean Menstrual Cup in a Public Restroom?
Best will be to carry ‘cup wipes’ handy in
your purse to clean period cup in a public restroom. Make sure to first wipe
and sanitize your hands with cup wipes and then remove the cup.
If it is possible and you are changing in a single restroom with sink, wash cup with warm water after cleaning your hands with soap and water. We do not advise to use soap provided at public toilets to wash a cup to be safe. Clean with soapy water once you get home.
If you do not have a cup wipe and sink is on the other side of the bathroom stall. First wash your hands thoroughly, get inside the toilet opening the toilet door using a tissue. Remove the cup and wipe it with a toilet paper or fresh tissue. Rewash the cup as soon as the water is available.
*If you are using disposable cups, better throw them after removal and use a new one.
Taking Care of Period Cup between the Periods
To maintain hygiene, keep the cup clean, and fresh boil we emphasise to boil the cup for 20 minutes before and after each cycle. To get rid of the smell you may soak the cup for an hour in rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice before boiling. To remove stain you may make the cup sit in sun for a few hours.
After disinfecting the cup dry and store it in a clean cotton bag. Never store it in an airtight container.
*Wash your hand with soapy water before and after cleaning period cup or boiling it.
How Many Years a Menstrual Cup Lasts?
If you take good care of menstrual cup, it may last for 6-10 years.
How Will You Know You Need To Replace Your Menstrual Cup?
If cup shows splitting, cracking or gets a sticky chalky residue you need a fresh cup.
*Never, use a new period cup without boiling it for 20 minute
How Much A Reusable Period Cup Costs?
A menstrual cup costs around $20 to $40. You can use it for 5-10 years if cared properly. On the other hand, on an average a woman spend around $50 to $150 on pads and tampons (depending on the flow).
Is not reusable menstrual cups budget friendly.
Can You Get Toxic Shock Syndrome By Using Menstrual Cup?
Menstrual cup rather than absorbing blood collect the blood and thus decreases the risk of toxic shock syndrome, which is a rare bacterial infection that is associated with tampon use.
*A Word of Caution- Although most of the menstrual cup is latex free so it is also a good option for those who have latex allergy. Nevertheless, do remember a few females are allergic to silicone material so before using it consult your doctor and have an allergy test.
After getting all my doubts cleared, I have
been using period cup since the last two periods. Once you learn how to insert
and remove the period cup, and if it fits you right, it does not feel messy.
I suggest if you are going to try it for the first time better practice inserting and removing the cup a few times before periods to get used to it. Do take care of cleaning instruction and hygiene.
By using period cup not only you will do a favour to yourself but also to the mother nature as it stops you from contributing more waste to the earth in the form of used and dumped pads and tampons.
Every female is different, so may have a different experience. Do share your thoughts on the menstrual cup in the comment section.