Menstrual Cups – Are they Worth the Hype?
All across the internet recently I have seen an influx of youtubers and instagrammers talking about how life changing the menstrual cup is. And how it has shaped their ‘Time of the Month’ for the better. So after much research I decided to give it a go for myself to see how it worked with me. There are numerous benefits to using this type of menstrual product, and I will talk more about this below.
What is a Menstrual Cup?
Well to begin with, what is a menstrual cup you ask? It is a small silicon cup shaped item which is inserted into the vagina during your period. And what this does, is it catches the blood instead of absorbing it like a tampon does or lets it lie flat against the skin like a pad. Depending on what cup you purchase there may be different recommendations on when to change and how long it can be used for consecutively. For the one I chose which was a Lunette size 1, this can be left for up to 12 hours at a time which is so much better than a pad or tampon which needs to be changed much more frequently. This was a main selling point for me when looking into the cup, as don’t know about you, but when I am ‘on’ I tend to schedule my everyday life around when I need to take a trip to the bathroom to freshen up.
Comparison with Tampons and Pads
And another selling point for me is that it is perceived to be better for your body compared to a tampon. Tampons are said to be dipped in bleach to produce that distinctive white colouring. And there is a possibility that fragments of the tampon can be deposited in the body without you knowing. On top of this, tampons are the biggest reason why so many females end up suffering from toxic shock syndrome. And due to the material used to make the tampons, they don’t breakdown easily once disposed of. Which makes the idea of a re-usable menstrual product a better method which does not harm the environment and yourself.
With the cup,there are no risks of this as the cup is made from medical grade silicon and does not absorb the liquid, but merely collects it. And due to its flexible tendencies, when a cup is inserted it will fit comfortably within. With a cup, it sits a slight bit lower than your typical tampon would, and there is usually a stem on the end to assist with removing it, just like the string of a tampon.
When comparing it to pads however, it is eliminates the uncomfortable feeling of sitting in your menstrual blood all day. And as the blood is outside of the body, this is when it starts to release an odour, an no one likes the daunting smell as it fills you with so much anxiety and embarrassment. This is eradicated by using a cup as the blood is kept within your body and that way it does not come into contact with the air outside of your body.
Choosing your Menstrual Cup
When it came to making the decision of which cup to purchase, there are many factors which need taking into consideration. I did a lot of research and took into account various peoples feedback and experiences with a variety of them. Two of the most helpful sources I found were the website putacupinit and the Youtube channel Precious Stars Pads. Using a combination of these two, I was able to be certain that the Lunette size 1 cup would be the best for me to tryout. On the putacupinit website they also have a quiz where you can answer questions to help you narrow down the best options for you. But below I will discuss briefly what you would need to figure out what size cup would be suited for your needs and requirements.
- Current menstrual cycle – is it heavy, regular or light?
- Have you given birth vaginally or are you a virgin?
- Do you have a high, regular or low cervix?
- Do you have any allergies to specific materials such as silicon?
These few questions will most definitely help you to find the best one for you. And you can find helpful videos online and on the putacupinit website where they will assist you with working out the size of your cervix. So be prepared to get well acquainted with your lady parts!
I purchased my cup on Amazon via the Lunette store as they were having shipping issues at the time I bought it, an I wanted to receive it asap so that I could try it out before my period started. It set me back £24.10 for my cup, however, to put it in perspective, just 1 pack of 30 tampons is around £4. And you will go through a considerable amount of these over the years, which makes this sustainable approach so much more cost effective.
When I received it, it came in a box which contained a pamphlet, the cup and a handy little bag for storage. On first impressions I was pleasantly surprised how much smaller it was in person than it was in videos online. Which most certainly put me at ease when thinking of inserting this into myself.
As per the instructions I boiled the cup in a pan of water for 20 minutes after giving it a clean to ensure that it was well steralised. You can purchase the Lunette wash and wipes to do this, or alternatively you can use a fragrance free soap which is more convenient.
Testing it Out
So I didn’t have to jump in at the deep end when I got the cup, I tried it out straight away after cleaning it, as I didn’t want any surprises when it came to using it properly. After a couple attempts using the most popular fold which I believe is called the C or U fold, it eventually when in. And once it was in place I couldn’t feel it at all, and the little stem stuck out comfortably and as it was made of a flexible silicon, it moved with you, so you didn’t feel any discomfort at all.
One thing I found when putting it in to begin with was that it was really fiddly. I had to hold the fold at the top and the bottom, as when I just inserted the top bit, and let go to push the rest in, it would open up too low down and it would feel awkward.
When it came to removing it, I just gently pulled on the stem and squeezed the cup together to release the suction to get it out. The feeling of it loosing this air was such a weird sensation. Although, this was probably down to the fact that it was empty at that point in time.
How I Found Using the Cup
I have just used the menstrual cup for my first period and below are my thoughts and feelings on how I felt that this method worked for me.
Thankfully I started my latest cycle when I got home from work so I had ample time to relax at home and insert it comfortably. As mentioned previously I used the classic C fold which means I fold it half, then in half again essentially, although there are different way to do this which you can find out more online in the resources discussed previously. Surprisingly it was successful first time and went in, I did not have to trim the stem like some articles suggest as I found I preferred to have it poking out a little so it gave me something to hold onto for grip when removing. Although again this is down to your personal preference so you would need to see what works for you best.
The first stint I used it for was about 5 hours before I went to sleep, and I was shocked to see that there was a little amount of blood within the cup, much less than I was expecting compared to the massacre you see with a tampon or pad after that length of time. So I was eager to see how it would cope all day at work the following day as the cup I bought specifically said it could be used for up to 12 hours a time.
During the day I kept feeling anxious like I would need to check and change it regularly like I would a tampon. And to keep track of this and to avoid any mishaps I decided to wear a liner too just in case. However, every time I checked during the day it was clear and it was all psychological the thought of overfilling and spilling as I was used to changing a tampon around every 4 hours.
When I finally got home and removed it, I expected it to be horrific and full to the brim. But instead there was barely anything there, about the length of a standard fingernail length I would say. Which was mind blowing to me as I was under the impression by body produced much more than that within the 9 hours I wore it for. But this was pretty consistent for the 4 days I was menstruating, and I got on with the cup magnificently and felt so much more in tune with my own body.
Removing it was not too difficult as I had a decent practice beforehand. All I found I needed to do was pull on the stem slightly then I could get enough grip on it to squeeze it between my fingers to release the suction then gently guide it out – mess free!
One thing I would say I was a bit oo-eer about with the cup was that when I was at work I would need to bend down a lot to pick stuff up and pack it. And as I would lean over I could feel the cup slightly and it would panic me that I had moved it. But as it is made of silicon it can bend with you and you move and the general suction of the cup itself when I inserted it seemed pretty solid so I had nothing to worry about, it was just the fact I had not felt it before.
Cleaning wise I was not as squeamish as I thought I would be, at the end of the day I have had thousands of periods in my lifetime so a bit of menstrual blood did not phase me. I just tipped what I could in the toilet and rinsed it in the sink. And conveniently I found that I was only ever doing this at home so did not have to worry about doing this while out and about which was a plus. However, they do sell disinfectant wipes specifically for the menstrual cup which I would most definitely look at investing in for on the go use.
And finally as the end of my cycle I just boiled the cup in a pan of water like I did before my first use to sterilize it and jobs a goo dun. The fancy little bag it came with is also a handy way to discretely store it away for the next time I need it.
Overall my experience with using the menstrual cup was surprisingly easy and I find it so much more convenient to use than the wider used menstrual products on the market. And if you think about it, I paid just over £24 for this cup and I can definitely see it lasting me a long time and as it says on the packaging, it is most certainly your vagina’s new best friend!