4.14.2011

Reasons to Consider a Menstrual Cup

Since I've been doing a lot of reviews lately, I wanted to try something different and go through all the Pros and Cons of menstrual cups. So, here we go. :)


Various menstrual cups

A menstrual cup, is a small silicone, TPE, or rubber cup that is inserted into the vagina during a women's period. It collects the fluid instead of absorbing it like a tampon, and is rinsed and reinserted between uses. That's right, it's a reusable menstrual product! If you haven't heard of these before, you are probably pretty grossed out right now. But before you click away, read a little more, and I think you'll understand the benefits of a menstrual cup, even if you don't necessarily want to try one out. Menstrual cups...

1. Save you money. The average women uses $4000 worth of disposable menstrual products in her lifetime. $4000! Just think of all the shoes I will be able to buy now that I've switched. Menstrual cups, depending on the brand and where you buy them, cost only $25-50. And they last for 10 or more years if you take care of your cup.

2. Save you trips to the drugstore. You never have to replenish your stock of tampons or pads. No more stopping for emergency supplies because you just got your period, and I always absolutely hated getting checked out by a male cashier when I was buying tampons.

3. Are environmentally friendly. That average women we were talking about uses about 16,000 disposable menstrual products in her lifetime. If there are 7 billion people in the world, we have 3.5 billion people that will have a period every month for about 40 years. Just think about how many pads and tampons must go into landfills daily. Since nothing really decomposes in landfills, disposable menstrual products are a big contributor to human waste. Most cups are made of silicone, which is recyclable, and they are reusable. So if you are a bit of a tree hugger like me, or if you just tend to choose sustainable products, the menstrual cup is the way to go.

Fleurcup

4. Are healthier for your body. When most of my friends heard about menstrual cups from me, they were really grossed out because it seemed unhygienic. However, I would argue that menstrual cups are just as hygienic and healthier than tampons or pads. They are made of inert medical grade silicone, rubber, or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), which does not harbor bacteria, while blood soaked cotton provides an environment for bacteria to grow. This is why tampons are linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome and vaginal infections, and pads are linked to UTIs. Of course, these problems with disposables can be avoided by changing them regularly, but there are still other health benefits with cups. Tampons and pads are made with lots of chemicals, fragrances, and bleached cotton. Menstrual cups have not been linked to any health problems, and they keep the vaginal environment intact, by not sucking up extra moisture like tampons. Many cups also have measuring lines so you can monitor your flow to check to see if it's a healthy amount.

5. Are vagina positive. When using a menstrual cup, you learn more about your vagina, your cervix, and your cycle. It's a great feeling to be more in tune with your own body. When I was using tampons and pads, I threw away the tampon after using it, and my period was generally gross, smelly, and annoying. With a menstrual cup I saw my own flow and realized it was a natural, healthy process. I don't think it's gross anymore, and I know a lot more about how my body works.

6. Last longer. They have higher capacities than tampons and pads, so you can change a cup less frequently. If you have a moderate to light flow, you will be able to change the cup every 12 hours or so. The most absorbent tampon has about a 15ml capacity, and cups range from 15ml to 30ml of capacity. (Tampons may leak before they are fully saturated as well.) So for women with very heavy periods, this is a great solution. Personally, I can leave my cup in for a whole day without needing to change it. :)

7. Give you a "happier period." Menstrual cups do what tampons and pads have always promised to do in their commercials. There is no string, so cups show nothing outside of the body, and there's no period odor. Unlike tampons, you can put a cup in before your period starts, about when you think it's supposed to come; this is really helpful if you have an irregular cycle. Some women (not me) also find that their cramps decrease or go away when they start using a cup. I forget that I'm on my period all the time while I'm wearing a cup. :)

8. Are great for a busy, active lifestyle. You only need one cup while traveling or in your purse/backpack, instead of hauling around a case of tampons whenever you go on a long trip. They are great for long trips because they last longer, and if you go hiking, you don't need to worry about carrying around and disposing of tampons or pads. Menstrual cups can be worn while swimming, sleeping, horseback riding, doing yoga, etc.

9. Are pretty. Menstrual cups come in lots of different colors, and some are even made with glitter. Even though no one sees my cup while I'm on my period, I feel better because I'm using something cute. :)

MeLuna menstrual cups

10. Leak less often. A study done on cups found that they leaked half as often as tampons or pads, and had to be changed 2.8 times less often for the women in study. If nothing else a menstrual product shouldn't leak, and it should make your life easier. My cups only leak if I let them overflow, meaning I left them in too long, whereas I always got an old discharge/blood mixture and occasional leaking with tampons. I've also ruined underwear, pajama bottoms, and sheets while wearing pads at night; I'm much more confident, and sleep easier when I'm wearing my cup.

11. Are so much more comfortable. Menstrual cups are made of soft squishy silicone, and I never feel mine when it's inside. I always found tampons very stiff and uncomfortable while exercising--like I literally had a stick up my vagina. Pads always felt like diapers to me and they tend to shift around and leak, and sometimes the sticky part gets stuck in unmentionable places. Menstrual cups look large, but they fold up small for insertion, and if your vagina can fit a penis, or a baby's head, it can also fit a folded up menstrual cup. If you unroll a tampon and compare it to a menstrual cup they are about the same size anyways.

A DivaCup folded up nice and small

There are a few characteristics about menstrual cups some might call negative, and it would be dishonest for me to leave them out of this post. But honestly I don't think they are that big of a deal. Also menstrual cups...

1. Are hands on. You have to actually put your fingers inside your vagina and you will see your menstrual fluid. If this makes you squeamish, this may not be the best option for you. But honestly it's natural to know about your own vagina and you should be comfortable with your own bodily functions. Many women around the world use non-applicator tampons, which also involve using your fingers.

2. May be more difficult to use. Like tampons, menstrual cups have a learning curve when you are using them for the first time, only it is a bit longer (about 1-3 cycles). You can decrease this time, by reading the instructions thoroughly and watching instructional videos etc. I had no leaks when I first started using a cup because I was already well versed in the insertion and removal process.

Femmecup
3. Require a bit more time and effort. I'd say menstrual cups add about a minute to the time it takes to change them, when compared to tampons. You also have to take about five minutes out of your day to clean your cup after the end of your period. Big whoop. :)

4. Can cause discomfort. Sometimes menstrual cups can press on the bladder or rectum for some women. (This did not happen for me.) I should also note, that some women have trouble going to the bathroom with the cup in (again not for me). This is easily solved by removing the cup beforehand, or switching to a softer cup with a less pronounced rim. I'm not going to claim that menstrual cups work for everyone, because they don't necessarily work for every woman. There are other reusable alternatives like sea sponge tampons and cloth pads, and you can also use organic cotton disposables, which are a lot healthier than their drugstore counterparts.

So this concludes my post on the pros and cons of menstrual cups. I hope you found this helpful! Also just a note, menstrual cups can be used by virgins, just like tampons, I would just take a little extra care so as not to stretch or tear your hymen (aka cherry, corona). Leave a comment below if you would consider using a cup, or if you are already a cup user.


You can watch my video on the advantages/disadvantages of cups here if you need extra persuasion. ;)


If you'd like to try out a menstrual cup I recommend checking out:

wikiHow - How to Use a Menstrual Cup

wikiHow - How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Brand
wikiHow - How to Clean a Menstrual Cup
MenstrualCups.org
MenstrualCupInfo YouTube Videos

Lunette Selene

You can purchase menstrual cups from many online retailers, or check out your local Whole Foods or organic/health store. There are links to all the vendors on the wikiHow Choose a Menstrual Cup page, and I also recommend doing a search for "buy [brand of menstrual cup]" on Google to find the cheapest price. Thanks for reading! :)


14 comments:

  1. as for #4 in cons, i think it's more that you need to choose carefully. like, with tampons it's no big deal to try out different brands but although many are lucky to buy a cup that is sold locally or comes in their favourite colour and have it work for them, it's much better to choose the size charts and make an educated guess.
    at least mention that in lots (most?) of cases, the discomfort is due to some specific feature of the cup (stiffness, pronounced/double rim, pointy/non-pointy base) and a switch to another brand will solve the problem.

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  2. *choose according to the size charts, i mean:)

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  3. @serpent-849 Sure, I'll mention it. But I'm not sure if the problem is always solved by switching to a different cup if they have a sensitive bladder and such. Sometimes cups just don't work for certain women.

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  4. Very well written article. Although I would have liked to seen the odor issue discussed a little more. I love cups, but I'm still working out the kinks. It is so much easier for me and great for the environment too.

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  5. @Robin, Thanks! :) Basically because the blood doesn't get exposed to the air, and is held completely inside, there's no odor! It's really as simple as that. It's so nice, because even when I used tampons I felt like I would always catch a whiff of that period odor, and not while I was changing tampons.

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  6. Thanks, this post helped. Im a first time user and I decided since thats the case to use the disposable Instead Softcup. I was skeptical when it came time to buy, but i said what the heck. At first, insertion was awkward but later on after throwing one away i tried again and went swimming with my mind at ease, im confident that i made the right decision. One day with a cup and my life has changed forever. :)

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  7. What about public restrooms? Do you keep something to rinse it with you or do you carry it out to the sinks and hope for the best. My job and my school don't have private stall bathrooms.

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  8. @Ashley Yay! I'm glad it helped. :)

    @kciccone I usually dump the cup out in the toilet, wipe it off with toilet paper, and reinsert. It really doens't need to be thoroughly cleaned to keep doing its job. (Although I'll give it a rinse later at home.) It helps to bring a wet paper towel into the stall with you though, and I know some people bring a water bottle.. Sometimes I do hold the cup hidden in my hand and bring it out to the sink to rinse--it's very easy to covertly wash it. :) But that depends on if I'm in a rush or not.

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  9. The glitter one is cute!

    When you first started using the cup, did you have to get over the ick factor? I am scared of blood =[... and yes I run The Period Blog... lol

    Also I hear emptying and cleaning up while in the shower helps. Have you tried this before?

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  10. @The Period Blog

    Hi :) I think I was a little bit different at first, because it's much more hands on than the tampons I used to use. I can't say I was really grossed out though. I've never been scared of blood, but I did get it on my hands at first during removal, and that is not the most pleasant thing. After a little practice though, it stopped being messy and that was that. I used cups ever since :)

    I absolutely prefer emptying and cleaning in the shower! Everything goes down the drain, and everything gets clean, really easily. Changing the cup in a private bathroom is just as easy though... and public bathrooms aren't hard either.

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  11. @The Period Blog

    You're welcome! Another alternative to reusable cups like these is the Instead Softcup... idk if you have heard of them. They are disposable menstrual cups.

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  12. I've been using a menstrual cup for a few years. In the beginning I kept a few pads around while I was learning how to use the cup. The first one I purchased was too small and I experienced leakage because there wasn't a tight seal. The 2nd one I purchased was just right. The only downside I have is that on my very heavy day, I have to make sure I wake up in the middle of the night to dump it or else I'll wake up swimming in the Red Sea LOL! ;-) I love the look ladies give me when they ask me if I had a spare pad or tampon and I say "no, I don't use them." That look is priceless!

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    1. Hahah yes! And then ensuing conversation about what a menstrual cup is. Too funny!

      What cup do you have for your 2nd one? Did you buy a large capacity cup?

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