Menstrual Cups 101
What IS a Menstrual Cup?
The word “menstrual” probably has some of us running for the hills—or clicking away from this post. After years of being told that our periods are dirty, shameful, or gross, it’s natural to shy from the subject. We’re sold tampons and pads that offer features like “extra absorbency” and “feminine scents.” Hide it. Don’t talk about it. So we haven’t. We shutter away our vaginas tampons and pads—often filled with chemicals and bleach—because they’re supposed to be discrete. But we’re still subject to leaks, messes, hanging tampon strings that get covered with pee and unveil themselves at inopportune moments (hot tub, anyone?) and worse—things like Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Ladies, let’s say it together: there’s a better way.
Enter the menstrual cup. You might have heard it called a menstrual cup, or period cup, among other names. The premise is simple: it’s a soft, flexible silicone (or rubber) cup that sits inside your vagina during menstruation, collecting blood. You remove and empty the cup in the toilet, rinse it clean, and reinsert so it can go back to work, every 6-12 hours until the end of your period.
So, instead of blood getting absorbed into a tampon or pad, it pools inside the cup and collects until you remove and empty it. If you haven’t used one before, the prospect of “pooling blood” can incite visions of the Bates Motel, not an easy-to-use feminine hygiene product. Don’t panic: menstrual cups are simple, straightforward, and very easy-to-use.
Unlike a tampon, which gets filled and begins to leak after just a few hours, a menstrual cup can collect up to a full ounce of liquid. That capacity might sound unimpressive, and we know what some of you are thinking. You expect my bountiful red flow to fit in a tiny one-ounce cup without leaking? Yeah right, sister. I’m a super-absorbent kind of gal and I still have issues keeping that flow from ruining undies and sheets. The great news is that most women only product about two or four ounces of blood TOTAL throughout the duration of each cycle. And that measly-sounding one ounce of liquid a menstrual cup can handle at a time is actually five times greater than the amount which maxes out a tampon.
The flexible little cup gets inserted, filled, removed, emptied. Rinse & repeat, pretty straightforward. But the benefits go beyond its convenience.
Better for the Environment
Imagine you’re on your period. If you use five disposable pads or tampons every day for five days, that’s 300 a year. This adds up to an astounding 10,000 in the span of your lifetime! Because it’s reusable, using a menstrual cup eliminates the products we would otherwise be consuming and then disposing of in the landfill. Eco-friendly period? Check!
Better for You
Instead of exposing the delicate skin of your vagina to abrasive cloths soaked in chlorine, BPA, adhesives, and fragrances, go additive-free with medical grade silicone.
Embrace the Learning Curve
Between choosing the right size and learning how to properly insert one, it may not feel like smooth sailing from the get go, but it’s worth the effort! A menstrual cup also invites you to get familiar with the monthly workings of your vagina; for women who tend to shy away from down-there topics, it’ll take some getting used to. There are a lot of advantages in switching to a cup, but you’re the only one who can decide what is right for you.