The use of menstrual cups as a replacement for regular sanitary napkins or tampons is gaining popularity in India.
A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup, made of silicone or latex rubber, that is used to collect menstrual blood during your periods. Unlike a sanitary pad or a tampon, a menstrual cup collects and does not absorb blood.
Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of using menstrual cups. Before that, let’s take a quick at how to use a menstrual cup.
How Does a Menstrual Cup Work?
A menstrual cup has two main parts: the cup and a thin stem at the bottom for ease of removal. If you are using a cup for the first time, ensure to read the directions on the packaging carefully on how to insert it.
Wash or sterilize the cup as per the instructions and wash your hands with soap and water too. Follow these steps:
1. Fold the cup to insert it. Fold the menstrual cup so that the wide opening of the menstrual cup is made smaller for insertion.
You can do this in two ways:
C-fold, also known as Half fold or U-fold: Fold the top rim of your menstrual cup in half, so that it creates a tight C or U shape.
Push down fold or Tip fold (Tulip fold): Push one side of the rim down into the cup, creating a narrow point.
2. Insert the cup into your vagina. You have to be comfortable while inserting a menstrual cup. You may choose to sit on the toilet seat, stand, or squat. Hold the folded menstrual cup with one hand, and slowly insert the menstrual cup into your vagina. While inserting, try to maintain the folded position of the menstrual cup.
Once the rim of the cup is in, continue to push further until the entire cup and stem are inside your vagina. Do not push the menstrual cup so deep that you are unable to grab the stem of the cup.
3. Rotate to adjust the cup, if required. Check the instructions on the packaging. Some brands ask you to rotate the cup once it is inserted to make sure it is sealed and not loose. To do this, grab the menstrual cup by the base (not the stem) and give it a full rotation.
4. Check and wear. To check if your menstrual cup has opened completely, insert a finger along the inside of your vagina up to the rim of the menstrual cup, and follow the rim around. To test this further, you can grasp the stem and gently pull on it.
If you feel some resistance or pressure, then you can be sure that the cup has opened completely. Once you are comfortable, you can wear the cup anywhere between 6 to 12 hours.
5. Remove the cup when needed. To remove the cup, bend down slightly or keep one leg on the toilet seat while standing.
Use your forefinger and thumb, grab the stem of the cup, and gently pull it down. Empty the contents of the cup in the toilet and clean the cup with warm water before inserting it again.
Menstrual Cups Pros
Menstrual cups are widely used since they are convenient and eco-friendly. Other advantages of using them include:
1. Lighter on your pocket. Most menstrual cups are reusable and can last for several years as opposed to disposable sanitary pads or tampons.
2. Increased comfort during your periods. Cups do not cause vaginal dryness, which is a common complaint about tampons.
3. Clean and less messy. If inserted properly, a cup should not leak or spill, and you can wear it while working out swimming, or showering.
4. Eco-friendly. Pads and tampons are commonly single-use, non-biodegradable, and come with lots of packaging, all of which harms the environment. Cups are designed for multiple uses and are environment-friendly.
5. No funky or embarrassing odour. During periods, the smell of blood and scented pads or tampons may combine to produce an embarrassing odour.
With cups, your period blood is not exposed to the air and there is no foul smell.
Menstrual Cup Cons
1. Uncomfortable if the cup does not fit properly. If the cup is not inserted correctly, it can be very uncomfortable for you to walk or sit. You may have to try different brands, shapes, and sizes until you figure out the perfect one.
2. Menstrual cups can be hard to remove. Taking out menstrual cups requires patience and learning. Do not pull down the stem with force when you remove it.
Try to pinch the base, pull out the cup, and empty the collected blood into the toilet.
3. Regular sterilization is required. Sanitary pads and tampons usually do not require sterilization or maintenance. Sterilize the menstrual cup in boiling water for 10 minutes or with a sterilizing solution at the end of every cycle.
More Points to Remember
Wash your hands well with soap and water before inserting or removing a menstrual cup.
Avoid rubber menstrual cups if you are sensitive to latex (a soft white substance that is made of 55% water and about 40% rubber material). You can opt for silicone menstrual cups.
Always read the instructions on the packaging before using a menstrual cup for the first time or before using a new brand. Consult your gynaecologist to understand menstrual cups in more detail.
1. Susana.org. 2021. [online] Available at: <http://www.susana.org/_resources/documents/default/2-985-policybriefno222010useofmenstrualcupbyadolescentgirlsandwomenpotentialbenefitsandkeychallenges.pdf> [Accessed 16 February 2021].
2. Npr.org. 2021. NPR Cookie Consent and Choices. [online] Available at: <https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/07/17/742370168/menstrual-cups-they-re-safe-to-use-and-people-like-using-them> [Accessed 16 February 2021].
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