The Menstrual Cup: Questions Answered

Photo via saalt

No matter how you look at it, menstruation is a hassle at best and a crippling, no-energy-for-several-days nightmare at worst. In plain words, menstruation sucks. After a few decades, I’d figured out how to manage my body’s cramps, bloating and low energy (ibuprofen, bananas, heating pad, water, healthy foods, exercise—ok got that). However, I had yet to find a satisfactory alternative to wearing pads or tampons. The fear of leakage had me wearing a tampon with a panty liner for added security or pads with extra length, resulting with my bottom getting a rash by the time my period was over. Anyone else in the same boat?

Recently, during a girls’ conversation about the inconvenience of menstruation, the menstrual cup was mentioned. And this was where I did a double take. Say what?! My initial thought was, what the heck is a menstrual cup and how does it work? Forgive me if the menstrual cup is the latest news to me but I was utterly clueless. Never mind that the menstrual cup has been around for decades!

First of all, what is a menstrual cup?

In brief, it is a reusable period cup made of medical-grade silicone, rubber, latex, or elastomer that can last up to 10 years. Wow, 10 years! Do a quick search online and you will find that there are more brands than one can count on both hands. The menstrual cup is also available in more than one size. Great to know!

Secondly, how does it work?

Similar to tampons, the cup is inserted into the vagina. However, instead of absorbing blood, blood and other matter discharged during menstruation are collected in the cup. Every 4-12 hours, the cup is removed, cleaned and re-inserted or stored away until next use. Each brand will have instructions for use.

Most importantly, is it effective and safe?

For good measure, a systematic review and meta-analysis of the menstrual cup was pulled to review the data on a number of studies. The full article can be found at The Lancet.

To summarize, the review “indicates that menstrual cups are a safe option for menstruation management.”

As for effectiveness, based on several responses from first-time and on-going users, there was little to no leakage. In the case of leakage, it was assumed that using the large cup size instead of the small would have been beneficial.

In addition to the above-mentioned questions, as a first-time potential user, I had a few more questions 😊

Why did you decide to try the menstrual cup?

  • I was interested in the cup more so for pregnancy than my menstrual period. I heard that women also used it to get pregnant. After intercourse, the cup is inserted to prevent loss of semen. However, after purchasing it, I decided to use it for my monthly period.

  • I was drawn to the cup because of reviews from other users. I heard it was better than pads.

  • Pads were giving me a rash, and I needed an alternative.

How much did you spend on your menstrual cup and where did you buy it?

  • $31.00 at Target

  • $30 at Target; I also bought a cup wash in addition to the cup for $6. The cup wash is formulated to help balance pH.

  • I bought two sizes, small and large for less than $40 from Amazon.

How did you choose a brand?

  • I read the packaging and decided based on the thoroughness of the label and information.

  • I based my decision on the package information.

  • My decision was based on reviews.

Can you feel the cup when it’s been placed?

  • The first time you can feel it but you get accustomed to it over time.

  • I can feel it a little bit but it’s not bothersome. It’s kinda like a tampon.

  • No, it’s really comfortable when it’s placed.

What challenge(s) did you encounter with using the menstrual cup?

  • Learning how to take it out more so than putting it in; even though there were instructions, it was harder to take out—it was trial and error.

  • Getting the cup out is pretty challenging. The cup is not something you want to change in a public restroom. Your fingers need some strength to pull since there is some suction. I recommend watching the demo video for the brand you buy.

  • Removal of the cup. If you pull out fast, blood can splatter.

How has using the menstrual cup changed your experience with your monthly periods?

  • It’s cleaner, no leakage, no need to wear a panty liner.

  • It’s cleaner and better than using pads. It’s less bothersome, and I can go for a maximum of 12 hours before needing to change it.

  • No bad leaks, no rash.

What tip would you give for those interested in trying the menstrual cup?

  • Don’t have long fingernails. First timers may need to dig out the cup. Practice a day or two before actual period to avoid anxiety of trying to remove the cup. It takes practice .

  • Need to make sure your fingers are strong enough to pull it out. Every time I it take out, I do get concerned that it may get stuck. Read the instructions and sterilize accordingly.

  • Just give it a try!

Would you recommend the menstrual cup? Why?

  • Neutral about it; personally, would use it but there’s pros and cons. Initially, I wasn’t a big fan of it but after using it more often, I don’t mind using it. I will switch off and on with pads and the menstrual cup.

  • Yes, it’s cleaner, feels more sanitary.

  • Yes, highly recommend. I was sorry I didn’t find it sooner. Oh, and it’s a money saver!

Is there anything else you want to share with others about the menstrual cup?

  • I will use it during heavy flow at night while sleeping but if I had to choose during the day during lighter days, I will use pads.

  • It’s cost-effective. The cup lasts supposedly for 10 years.

  • I can still go swimming like tampons but without fear of leaking. Don’t be deterred by upfront cost. It’s worth it!

Not a fan of the menstrual cup or not even remotely interested in trying it out? Another product I highly recommend is Always Pure Cotton with FlexFoam pads. If you like the flexibility of Always pads, you’ll want to try the pure cotton 😊