Ever wonder how menstrual cups work? What makes so popular? After all, this industry reached $995 million in 2016, and it’s only getting stronger.
Menstrual cups have emerged as a favorite choice for adults. They’re not just convenient and easy-to-use but affordable too. In a study conducted on 47 people, those who tried these products said they would continue to use and recommend them to others.
Disposable tampons and pads are a thing of the past. They’re expensive, not great for the environment (so much plastic) and also contain chemicals, pesticides and other toxins that aren’t great for your body.
The menstrual cup is here to stay. Let’s see how it works and why it’s so great for you!
What Is a Menstrual Cup?
This eco-friendly bell-shaped device is made of medical grade silicone. Though the first studies on it were done in the ’60s, it has only recently gained popularity.
Unlike tampons and pads, menstrual cups are reusable for as long as 5-10 years. The average cost is around $25 USD. You can get some cheap cups from China, but we don’t recommend this because they’re not made from medical grade silicone. They’re also so flimsy that they don’t work very well and you’ll end up buying another one that actually works.
However, over the medium to long-term, you’ll save a ton of money by making the switch to a menstrual cup from the disposable options.
Currently, the most popular options are Mooncup, Ladycup, Diva Cup, and MeLuna. People describe these products as being discreet and comfortable. Their affordable cost gives them a major advantage over traditional feminine hygiene products.
How Menstrual Cups Work
Menstrual cups prevent blood from leaking onto your clothes when you’re on your period.
All you need to do is to insert one inside the vagina just below the cervix. The cup will collect the fluid instead of absorbing it like tampons and pads do.
When the cup gets full, it’s necessary to remove it from your vaginal canal and empty its content. Depending on the volume of menstrual fluid, this can be done every 12 hours or so.
The best part is that you don’t need a new cup for future uses. Simply clean your cup with mild soap and warm water and reinsert it.
Most manufacturers recommend replacing the cup once a year. However, these guidelines vary from one brand to another. Some brands can last for up to 10 years.
Are Menstrual Cups Safe?
Unlike tampons, menstrual cups do not often cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS). There is only one reported case of TSS being caused by menstrual cup usage to date. Compare this to the thousands of cases per year with tampons. Menstrual cups are also less prone to bacterial growth compared to other products in the same category.
These devices provide adequate leakage protection. Additionally, they come in different sizes and designs to accommodate any type of menstrual flow. See the Menstrual Cup Comparison Chart for more details.
Since most models are made from hypoallergenic materials, they do not cause adverse reactions. Silicone menstrual cups have the highest safety ratings. On top of that, they’re eco-friendly and biodegradable.
Contrary to popular belief, these products don’t cause discomfort. If it’s uncomfortable, reinsert it again or choose a different size.
Now that you know how menstrual cups work, you might wonder if they can be used during sex. In this case, soft, disposable models are a safe choice. Rubber and silicone cups must be removed before intercourse.
Can a Menstrual Cup Damage the Cervix?
A question that some people have before using a menstrual cup is whether it can damage the cervix. The short answer to this complex question is “not under normal circumstances.”
Menstrual Cup Placement
Menstrual cups are designed to sit quite low in the vaginal canal. They should be so low that the stem is right near the opening. If you have a long vaginal canal, consider one of the longer menstrual cups. However, if you have a short vaginal canal, consider a low-cervix menstrual cup.
If you have a low cervix/short vaginal canal but use one of the regular, or longer length menstrual cups, it’ll probably be quite uncomfortable. The stem will stick out of your vaginal canal, and/or the cup will push very strongly up against your cervix. This however will probably not damage your cervix, but will just be uncomfortable.
Menstrual Cup Removal
The other consideration about damaging your cervix with a menstrual cup is during removal. It’s important to break the suction seal by pushing in the edges of the cup, before pulling it out (especially if you use an IUD).
If you don’t break the suction seal, you can experience some serious pulling on the cervix, sometimes even leading to uterine prolapse.
However, if you remove your menstrual cup correctly, damaging your cervix will probably not be an issue for you.
Can a Menstrual Cup Cause Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?
A common question that people have is whether or not a menstrual cup can cause BV. Basically, bacterial vaginosis is a condition in which there are too many bacteria in the vaginal canal. There is a white-gray discharge, which can often smell quite fishy. There can also be itching, burning or pain, especially when urinating.
Are you more prone to BV if you use a menstrual cup, compared to pads or tampons? In general, menstrual cups are better for your vaginal health than tampons. This is because they don’t contain fibers that can get stuck in there, or anything like pesticides or other harmful chemicals from the manufacturing process.
Most people find that after switching to a menstrual cup, they have fewer yeast infections, or cases of Bacterial Vaginosis. This isn’t the case for everyone, however.
BV when Using a Menstrual Cup: A Few Tips
For some people, after they start using a menstrual cup, they get more of these kinds of infections, including BV. Here are some things you can try:
- Wash the cup thoroughly after taking it out, and before reinserting it. See: Menstrual Cup Cleaning for details. Make sure to wash any soap residue off very well. This residue can alter the pH of your vaginal canal, and cause something like bacterial vaginosis, or a yeast infection.
- Deep clean your cup at the end up your period, and before starting it again. Do this by boiling your menstrual cup in a pot of water on the stove for 5-7 minutes.
- Wash your hands with soap before handling your menstrual cup. If you’re used to using tampons with an applicator, this may not be something you automatically do. However, there are lots of bacteria on your hands, which might cause some problems.
Get the Right Menstrual Cup
So, are you ready to get your first menstrual cup? Or perhaps you’re already using one and looking for a better model?
Check out our menstrual cup comparison chart to get the right fit! It features top-rated brands that will make your choice a lot easier!
Or, just take our menstrual cup quiz. There are five easy questions that will only take a couple minutes of your time. At the end, you’ll get a recommendation for the best menstrual cup for your body type. Check it out here: