It’s time for a period talk! For today’s feature, we will teach you how to use a menstrual cup, as well as explain why it’s better than paper-based period products.
Periods are both a blessing and a curse to women. Regular menstruation ensures that your hormones are balanced and that your body is functioning as the way it should. However, it comes with a few bummers— you have to deal with cramps, mood swings, and expensive menstrual products.
Okay, you’re probably raising your eyebrows on the last line. Yes, we get that pads and tampons are not that expensive individually. But if you’re going to look at the bigger picture, you’re actually spending tons of cash on these products.
You might not realize it, but you’re going to spend at least Php 50,000 on your whole reproductive lifetime (from 12 to 52 years old) solely for tampons and pads– not to mention the other feminine hygiene products you’ll be using during that time. Yes, it’s that expensive. There’s also a survey conducted by OnePoll, which shows that the average woman spends $13.25 per month on period products– that’s $6,360 in their reproductive lifetime!
That’s why more women are now looking for cheaper alternatives from the typical paper-based menstrual products. This has led to a surge of demand for reusable period products, such as the menstrual cup.
What is a Menstrual Cup?
A Menstrual Cup is a flexible bell-shaped cup that’s designed to collect menstrual blood. To use this feminine hygiene device, you fold it and then insert it in your vagina. Just empty it every 6-8 hours (depending on how heavy the flow is) and you’re good to go.
Now, most period cups are made of silicone or rubber, so for our readers who are latex-sensitive, we suggest that you use a menstrual cup that’s made entirely of silicone.
As for the price, it ranges from Php 300 up to Php 2,000. Yes, you need to shell a few hundred pesos to get this period product, but take note that reusable menstrual cups last up to 10 years, so you’ll surely get your money’s worth.
Benefits of Using a Menstrual Cup
As this fem-hygiene product is making its way to the local market, you’re probably wondering if switching to menstrual cups is worth a shot. Well, to help you think things through, here are just some of the benefits that you can get by using menstrual cups.
1You’ll save tons of cash!
One of the main benefits of using a menstrual cup is that it helps you save up! What’s great about this period product is that it can be used for up to 10 years. You can just buy 3 pieces of these goodies and you’re good to go for a couple of years– which is definitely more cost-effective than buying pads every month.
2It’s good for the environment.
Did you know that more than 400 million pounds of sanitary pads and tampons end up in landfills every year? By switching to reusable feminine hygiene products such as menstrual cups, you’re helping out mother earth by generating less waste.
3It’s great for the wanderlusts!
For the girl on the go, you will surely love this cup. Unlike pad and tampon packs, a menstrual cup set doesn’t take up tons of space in your luggage. Another cool thing about this device is that you can move around without a hitch. Want to do some light trekking? Yoga? Dance? Swim? You can do all of those things when you use a menstrual cup. You don’t have to worry about leaks anymore.
4You’ll have more time between changes.
No matter how heavy or light your menstrual flow, it’s essential to change your pads/tampons every 3-4 hours to prevent bad odor, vaginal irritation, and accidental leaks. For someone always busy being out and about (such as on-site workers), it can be such a hassle to change your pads/tampons 3-4 times a day. Menstrual cups solve this problem, as you only need to empty your cup every 6-8 hours per day.
5There’s less odor.
Always worried about that not-so-good menstrual odor down there? If you use a menstrual cup, you don’t have to worry about this anymore. This device doesn’t allow the exposure of blood to air, eliminating the odor issue.
6You can have fewer cramps with it.
According to some online testimonies, they experience less severe cramping when using menstrual cups. So if you’re having those painful cramps, maybe you want to check this one out. Take note though, there are clinical studies to support this claim yet.
7It’s safer than its paper-based alternatives.
Another benefit of menstrual cups is that they don’t contain harmful chemicals found in tampons and pads, such as dioxin and bleach. They don’t also cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare yet fatal condition linked to tampon use.
How to Use a Menstrual Cup
Now that you’ve learned about the benefits, you’re probably pumped to use this innovative device. And for those who aren’t, it’s alright as this toy is not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re curious about how to use this, we got a step-by-step process on how to use this device.
Take note to our menstrual-cup-beginners, make sure to follow the instructions here to ensure a hassle-free experience. That means there wouldn’t be leaks or discomfort on your part. Read on!
1Select the right size.
Before purchasing a menstrual cup, make sure that you got the right size. To know your period cup-size, you can check the manufacturer’s size guide. But generally, menstrual cups come in small and large sizes.
- Small – This size is recommended for beginners that are 30 years old and below. If you have lighter flow and haven’t given birth (vaginally or under cesarean section), go for this one.
- Large – If you have a heavier flow, have given birth, or 31 years old and above, go for this size.
Take note though! The size will still vary on your current condition and preferences. You can consult a gynecologist to ensure your menstrual-cup-size.
2Sanitize the cup and your hands.
If you just got the menstrual cup out of the packaging, we highly suggest sterilizing the cup in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Remember to not let the cup touch the bottom of the pot. After that, let the cup cool for a few minutes– use that waiting time to wash your hands thoroughly.
3Apply water or water-based lube to the rim of the cup.
After sterilizing the cup, dab some lube or water to the rim of the cup for smoother insertion. Avoid using oils, jellies, or silicone-based lube (if the menstrual cup is made of silicone). Using those mentioned items above can irritate your vagina or damage the cup.
4Fold it down.
Press one side of the cup by folding it down and into the inside, resembling the letter “M”. Then fold the cup halfway. We get that for first-timers, this can be tricky. So to help you figure out this folding technique, you can check the illustration above or check this demonstration from Put a Cup In It (for reference, it’s the punch down folding technique at 0:22.)
5Get into a comfortable position.
Once you’ve folded the menstrual cup, you then must go in a comfortable position in which your vaginal muscles are relaxed. It’s up to you on how to position yourself, but we suggest going for a squat with one foot-raised to support.
6Insert the cup into your vagina.
Lubed up? Check. Cup is folded? Check. In a comfortable position? Check.
Once you’re ready, insert the cup, rim up, into your vagina. You must place it a few inches below your cervix. Once the menstrual cup is inside, it will pop open, creating an airtight seal to lock the menstrual flow.
Check if the cup is open by running your finger around the middle part of the cup. Feel an indent in the middle part? Use your index finger or thumb to nudge the indented part. You can also twist the base of the cup to make it fully open. Now, you shouldn’t feel any form of discomfort if the period cup is inserted properly.
7Remove the menstrual cup after 6-8 hours.
Once you’ve inserted it, you can now continue with your daily tasks. What’s great about this device is that you can move, jump, sit, stand, and do various movements without leakage. For first-time users and during heavy-flow days, we suggest emptying the cup for 3-4 hours. However if your flow isn’t that heavy and if you’re used to wearing this device, you can just empty it every 6-8 hours.
To remove the menstrual cup, simply go in a comfortable squatting position, reach inside the vagina and pull the stem out of your vag. Pinch the top rim (or as close to it) to give the seal time to break. Once you’ve squeezed the base to release the air, pull the cup out at a sideways angle. This is also tricky to beginners, but you’ll surely get a hang of it after 3 menstrual cycles.
8Clean and sterilize your cup after use.
If you’re reinserting the menstrual cup, you can simply wash the menstrual cup with water and mild soap. Now, if the period cycle is over, we suggest sterilizing it again for the next month. To do this, you can put the menstrual cup in boiling water for 3-5 minutes (don’t let the cup touch the bottom of the pot.
You can also use the sterilizer cup (if included in the packaging). Put the already-washed menstrual cup on the sterilizer cup. Fill it with water (¾ full). Place the lid loosely on top, then put the sterilizer cup into the microwave. Microwave it for 1-2 minutes. Once done, leave it in there for a few minutes.
Be careful when taking the sterilizer out of the microwave as it can be very hot. Once the water has cooled down, take out your period cup and dry it with a clean towel. Store it in its pouch or case afterward.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you’ve learned how to use a menstrual cup, you’re probably excited about getting your own period cup right now. But if you still have hesitations or questions about this fem-hygiene device, we gotchu. We’ve answered some of the frequently asked questions about menstrual cups. Read away!
1What are the disadvantages of a menstrual cup?
There’s not much, really, but one of the things that women find bumming about this device is how tricky to insert and remove it. Some girls also find it icky to use this because they’ll be dealing with some mess. But with enough practice, using this will be easy-peasy later on.
Another disadvantage is that menstrual cups aren’t for everyone. It wouldn’t work well with women that are allergic to rubber/latex, had gynecological surgery, or are using IUD (intrauterine device). If you have these cases, we suggest consulting with your gynecologist before getting this device.
2Can I try this when I’m not on my period?
It’s possible to do this but it can be uncomfortable. Since there’s no blood, the insertion isn’t as smooth. If you really want to practice, we suggest using an ample amount of water-based lube.
3I never had penetrative sex yet. Is it okay to use this device?
Don’t worry about that, sis. Your vagina doesn’t change just because you use a menstrual cup. In fact, your vag doesn’t even change after penetrative sex. It can feel a bit awkward though when starting out, but you’ll surely get used to it later on.
4Can I have sex while wearing a menstrual cup?
Hmmmmm, not really. If you want to do the deed while on your period, we suggest taking off the menstrual cup. Online forums are saying that you can wear a period cup while having sex. However, they’re using a disposable menstrual cup, which is a bit softer compared to reusable ones.
5Where can I buy a menstrual cup?
You can inquire in your local pharmacy/drugstore, or to make it more convenient, you can also purchase this fem-hygiene device online. You’ll have more options and some of the cups online are cheaper than the ones on physical stores.
If you’re looking for a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads, menstrual cups are the way to go! Aside from making your wallet happy, you’re also making mother earth happy by generating less waste. It’s a win-win for everyone!
As long as you’re using it correctly and maintaining it properly, you wouldn’t stumble upon any issues. So go ahead, sis. Use a menstrual cup and say goodbye to foul odor, blood clots, and discomfort!