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Making Sense of Menstrual Cups

Most girls are presented with the option of tampons or pads for their period products. What if we told you there is another option? Menstrual cups have been taking social media by storm, and women are taking notice of their period product options. If you’re looking for a new option for your time of the month, menstrual cups may be your answer.

What is a menstrual cup?

Menstrual cups have been a recent hit on social media, but they were actually produced in the United States for the first time in 1987. And while tampons have held the spot of most popular internal absorption period products, menstrual cups — reusable feminine hygiene products that are inserted into your vagina — are increasing in popularity.

What are menstrual cups made of?

Most menstrual cups are made from a flexible material, such as rubber or silicone. This elastic funnel allows the cup to work for a variety of women, as it adjusts to fit the vagina.

How do I use one?

Similar to tampons, menstrual cups are made in different sizes for women of all ages and flows. For girls that are younger or experience a lighter flow, smaller cup sizes are recommended. A woman with a heavier flow or a history of vaginal births may prefer a larger cup size. After you speak with your Gyn healthcare provider to find your best fit, follow these steps from Healthline to start using your menstrual cup:

  1. Wash your hands. Just as you should while using other feminine hygiene products, keep your vaginal area clean when inserting or removing the cup to prevent infection.
  2. Apply water or a water-based lubricant to the rim of the cup. Especially if it’s your first time using a menstrual cup, you may find it easier to place your menstrual cup with lubricant.
  3. Fold the cup. Tightly fold the menstrual cup in half, holding it in one hand with the rim facing up.
  4. Insert the cup. Insert the folded cup, rim up, into your vagina like you would insert a tampon without an applicator. It should sit a few inches below your cervix.
  5. Rotate. Once the cup is in your vagina, rotate it by holding the cup with two fingers and turning it. It will spring open to create an airtight seal that stops leaks as the cup collects your flow.

When it’s time to take out your menstrual cup:

  1. Wash your hands. Again, keep your hands clean to protect your vaginal health!
  2. Pull the stem. Place your index finger and thumb into your vagina. Pull the stem of the cup gently until you can reach the base of the cup.
  3. Release the seal. Pinch the base of the cup to break the seal and pull down to remove the cup.
  4. Empty the cup. Tip your cup to empty it into the toilet or sink. Rinse the cup well with tap water before reinserting or storing. Read below for more cup cleaning information.

Things to keep in mind

How often should I empty my cup?

Depending on your flow, menstrual cups typically catch more blood than other internal absorption products. According to Juju it is recommended to empty your cup every 8 to 12 hours depending on your flow. If your flow is heavier on certain days, the frequency of your empties might increase. 

Cup maintenance and cleaning

Unlike other common period products, menstrual cups are reusable and can have varying life cycles. Proper maintenance and cleaning can help prolong the life of your menstrual cup as well as maintaining a cup that is safe to use. During your time of the month, Healthline recommends boiling your menstrual cup in water for 5-10 minutes. This will sanitize your cup and remove bacteria from previous usage or storage time between cycles. DivaCup recommends rinsing your cup out between reinsertions. If you’re in a public place or without access to a sink, carefully wiping your cup with paper towels or toilet paper will also work. 

Menstrual cups can last quite some time, but eventually you will need to replace it. DivaCup recommends replacing your cup if you notice or experience any of the following: 

  • A yeast infection
  • Extreme discoloring
  • Foul odor
  • Heavy staining
  • A white powder residue or any flaking on the cup
  • A grainy texture

Menstrual cups provide women with a reusable period control product with less frequent interruptions to their days. If you’re looking to try a new period product, ask your Gyn healthcare provider about menstrual cups to find the best fit for you! 

 

A menstrual cup