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Menstrual Cups: What They Are? Advantages, and Disadvantages

There are several mediums of menstrual engagements, and a menstrual cup is one of them. In this article, we will be discussing everything from what a menstrual cup is, to their advantages, disadvantages, cost, and how to choose the right one.

What is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product that is considered reusable. Menstrual cups are a small, very flexible funnel-shaped cup that is made from silicone and easy to insert into the vagina to collect or catch menstrual fluid.

Menstrual cups are known to be capable of holding more blood than the other methods of menstrual engagement, and this is why many women would instead use them than sanitary pads or tampons. And depending on how heavy or light your flow is, you may be able to wear one menstrual cup for as long as 12 hours.

There are many available brands of a reusable menstrual cup like DivaCup, Moon Cup, Lena Cup, Keeper Cup, Lily Cup, and Lunette Menstrual Cup. If you would prefer to use disposable menstrual cups, you can find a few such in the market, and an example is the Instead Softcup.

As you read further, you will learn how to insert, take out, and clean a menstrual cup.

How to use a menstrual cup

If you would like to use a menstrual cup, you should discuss it with your gynecologist. You can also buy any of the brands in most stores or online. But before you buy, you have to find out what size of menstrual cup you use.

Most brands of menstrual cup sell both large and small versions, but you must put certain factors into consideration before you choose a fitting size. These are some of the factors you must put into account:

  • If you have birthed a child vaginally
  • Your age
  • Cup capacity
  • The length of your cervix
  • Firmness and flexibility of the menstrual cup
  • Whether you have a light or heavy flow
  • The strength of your pelvic floor muscle

For women who are below 30 and haven’t had any children vaginally, a smaller sized menstrual cup is recommended for use. Larger sized menstrual cups are recommended for women who have heavy flows, are above 30, and have had a vaginal birth.

What to do before you put in your menstrual cup

As a newbie, the first time you use a menstrual cup, you may feel uncomfortable. But you can make the process of using a lot easier if you grease the bowl.

Before inserting the cup, lubricate the rim using water-based lube, or water. When a menstrual cup is wet, it becomes much easier to insert.

How to insert a menstrual cup

If you can insert a tampon, then you shouldn’t have a problem inserting a menstrual cup. Nevertheless, we will share with you, the easy steps you can take to insert your menstrual cup successfully. Follow the steps below to use your first menstrual cup successfully:

  1. Wash your hands properly
  2. Apply a water-based lubricant, or just water to the rim of your menstrual cup
  3. Carefully fold the menstrual cup tightly in half, holding it in a single hand with the rim facing upwards
  4. Insert the folded and well-lubricated cup, with the rim up, into your vagina the same way you would insert a tampon without the aid of an applicator. The menstrual cup should sit a few inches below your cervix.
  5. Once you have inserted the cup into your vagina, carefully rotate it. The cup will spring open and make an airtight seal that prevents leakage.

You should not feel the presence of your menstrual cup if it is correctly inserted. You should not have a problem doing basic things like jumping, standing up, sitting, moving, or doing any other simple thing you can do when not menstruating.

Your cup should not fall out if adequately inserted, and you should not feel any pains. If you are having problems slotting in your menstrual cup, talk with your doctor or gynecologist about it.

When should you take out your menstrual cup?

When you want to take out your menstrual cup, here are the steps you must follow:

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water
  2. Make sure to place your thumb and index finger into your vagina. Gently pull the stem of the cup until you get to the base.
  3. Pinch on the base to let the seal release, and carefully pull down to take out the cup.
  4. Once the cup is out, pour its content into a toilet or sink.

What are the advantages of using menstrual cups?

  • A menstrual cup is affordable
  • A menstrual cup is safer than tampons
  • Menstrual cups hold more blood than tampons and pads
  • Some brands of menstrual cups can’t be felt during sex
  • Menstrual cups can be worn with an IUD

A large number of women prefer to use menstrual cups for the following reasons:

  • Menstrual cups are budget-friendly: Because menstrual cups are reusable, all you have to do is pay a one-time price and save money for as long as possible. Unlike when you have to give out a specific amount of money every month for tampons and menstrual pads.
  • Menstrual cups are safer for use: Unlike other mediums of menstrual engagement, menstrual cups do not absorb blood. Instead, it collects blood and allows you to quickly dispose of its content. This prevents issues such as toxic shock syndrome which is a bacterial infection commonly associated with the use of a tampon.
  • Menstrual cups hold more blood: When you use a menstrual cup, you do not have to worry about getting stained as it can hold as much as one to two ounce of menstrual flow. On the other hand, tampons can only absorb up to one-third of an ounce.
  • Menstrual cups are eco-friendly: You can make use of reusable menstrual cups for a very long period, so you do not have to worry about contributing to environmental waste.
  • With menstrual cups, you can have sex: For most reusable menstrual cups, you will have to remove them before having sex to prevent discomfort or breakage. However, if you decide to opt for the soft disposable ones, they can stay in place while you do your lovemaking. Apart from the advantage of your partner, not feeling the presence of the menstrual cup, you also do not stand a risk of experiencing leaks.
  • You can wear a menstrual cup with an IUD: There are companies that claim a menstrual cup can dislodge an IUD. However, studies have revealed that this is false.

Disadvantages of using a menstrual cup

Just as with most things that have advantages, there are disadvantages associated with the use of menstrual cups. Here are some of them

  • Menstrual cups may be challenging to insert or remove
  • Menstrual cups can be messy
  • Menstrual cups may cause vaginal irritation
  • It may be hard to find the right menstrual cup fit
  • Menstrual cups may cause an allergic reaction

To make things even more explicit, we will explain each of the above-listed disadvantages one after the other.

Menstrual cup removal can become messy:

If you find yourself in a place where you are uncomfortable, and you need to take out your cup, it makes things confusing or even awkward as you may be unable to avoid spills.

Menstrual cups can be challenging to insert and take out:

You may realize that you do not get the right folds when you want to insert a cup. Or you may have a difficult time pinching the bottom when you want to remove the cup.

It can be a challenge to find the correct fit:

No menstrual cup is one-size-fits-all. So you may find it challenging to get the perfect fit. What this means is that you may have to try several brands before you find one that is perfect for you.

You may be allergic to the material used:

Most menstrual cups are produced from latex-free materials, which makes it a fantastic option for individuals with latex allergy.

But for some others, there is a possibility that the rubber or silicone material used for the production of the menstrual cup may lead to an allergic reaction.

Menstrual cups may cause infection and irritation

If a menstrual cup isn’t appropriately cleaned before reuse, it may cause irritation and infection. It is essential to wash your hands properly before inserting a menstrual cup.

Before you decide whether to use a pad, tampon, or menstrual cup, you must consider the cost, comfort, and the possibility of having sex while using any of them.

We hope you found this helpful? Please leave a comment below.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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