Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She is also a fitness enthusiast who enjoys yoga, and has an interest in health and wellness.
What in The World is a Menstrual Cup? That Sounds Weird!
A menstrual cup is a device that is worn internally to collect menstrual flow, similar to a tampon. Unlike a tampon, it collects the blood, rather than absorbs, so there is less risk of infection than with tampons. Menstrual cups are usually made from medical grade silicone. They are reusable, so they do not contribute to landfill waste. With proper care, a menstrual cup can last for years before needing to be replaced, which will save you a lot of money in the long run.
The most popular brand of menstrual cups in the United States is the Diva Cup. Other popular brands include Lena Cup and Lunette. I have personally used the Diva Cup and the Lena Cup. Both are excellent choices.
Why Would Anyone Want to Use That?
There are many benefits to using a menstrual cup instead of tampons. Since menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone, and collect rather than absorb, they are much healthier and carry fewer health risks than tampons. They also hold more than a tampon, so you can go longer between emptying it than you can between changing tampons. You can go up to twelve hours before you need to empty a menstrual cup, which makes them an excellent choice for women who work full-time jobs and can’t take many restroom breaks. Most women also find menstrual cups to be much more comfortable than tampons once they get the hang of using them. Two of the main reasons many women switch to menstrual cups is because they are much more environmentally friendly, and they cost less to use than tampons in the long run.
Health Benefits of Menstrual Cups
Menstrual cups are much better for your health than tampons. According to WebMD, menstrual cups are much safer than tampons because they present a lower risk of the bacterial infection toxic shock syndrome. Because tampons absorb fluids and hold them against your body for extended periods of time, they are breeding grounds for bacteria. Tampons have been linked to a deadly disease called toxic shock syndrome. Disposable tampons and pads may also increase your risk of yeast infections, rash, and chafing. According to another article published by WebMD, there is no chance of these health problems with menstrual cups, as they are worn internally and are made of hypoallergenic medical-grade silicone.
MenstrualCupReviews.com also states in their FAQ section that many women also report less severe cramping when using a menstrual cup than when using disposable products.
Disposable tampons may leave behind small fibers, which can cause tiny tears inside your body, increasing your risk of infection. According to EcoWatch, many mainstream brands of feminine hygiene products also include dangerous materials, including glyphosate, a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Tampons may also change your body chemistry and pH balance.
You can avoid some of these problems by using organic disposable products, but reusable medical-grade silicone menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads are a much healthier choice.
It goes without saying that reusable menstrual products are much better for the environment. Disposable tampons, along with their applicators and packaging, end up in the landfill. Most brands of tampons include non-biodegradable (not to mention toxic) materials that won’t break down in the landfill. A single menstrual cup can last up to ten years before needing to be replaced if properly cared for.
While a menstrual cup may cost a bit more than a pack of tampons, it is well worth the initial investment. A menstrual cup may cost between $20-$35, depending on which brand you choose. The average woman spends around $50 on disposable tampons and pads a year. Menstrual cups pay for themselves within the first year of use and may last many years.
I Can See the Benefits, But Aren’t They Messy and Difficult to Clean?
Once you get the hang of using a menstrual cup, emptying it isn’t any messier than changing a tampon. You simply empty the contents into the toilet and rinse it out before reinserting it. If you are in a public restroom when you need to empty it, you can get away with simply wiping it out with toilet paper and cleaning it better when you have more privacy, though, since you can leave it in for up to 12 hours, you likely won’t have to empty it in public very often.
At the end of your period, before storing your cup away until next month, you will need to clean it thoroughly. Some women prefer to boil their cups to disinfect them, but this isn’t necessary. You can also clean it with regular antibacterial soap, special wash meant specifically for menstrual cups, or even cleaner meant for “adult novelties” (make sure it says it’s safe for silicone if you choose to go this route). Once you get into the routine of using a menstrual cup, it isn’t difficult at all!
I’m Interested, But Which Cup Should I Choose?
There are many different cups on the market today. Different models are better for different women, as we all have our own unique anatomy. Some women find that they have to try out a couple different cups before they find the right one. Most menstrual cups come in two different sizes. Some companies, such as Diva Cup, recommend their smaller size for women who are under 30 and have not given birth, and their larger size for women who are over 30 or who have given birth. Other companies, such as Lena Cup, recommend their smaller size for women with lighter flows, and their larger size for women with heavier flows.
I have used the Diva Cup and the Lena Cup, so I will review these two cups.
The Diva Cup was the first menstrual cup I tried, mostly because it was the only cup around in the US at the time. I started using it about a decade ago and haven’t looked back. It took a few tries before I got the hang of it, but once I figured it out, I haven’t even considered using tampons again.
I do use pads as a backup with the Diva Cup, as it does leak occasionally. The Diva Cup is a relatively soft cup, so it doesn’t always pop open right away. If you don’t notice, it may leak, so you may want to wear a pad as a backup. I recommend cloth pads, as they are more comfortable and more environmentally friendly than disposables.
I have only tried the smaller size Diva Cup.
When it came time to replace my Diva Cup, I found that there were many more options available than there were when I originally purchased my Diva Cup. I went with the Lena Cup, size Large. The Lena Cup has a unique bell shape that supposedly stays sealed better. It is also slightly stiffer than the Diva Cup, so it opens easier when you insert it. I initially opted for the large size Lena Cup because it holds more and would need to be emptied less often.
Overall, I prefer the Lena Cup to the Diva Cup. It doesn’t leak like the Diva Cup does. The large size is a bit too difficult to use during light days, so I ordered an additional size small Lena Cup to use during the first and last days. I haven’t had a chance to try out the small size yet, however.
Are You Ready to Make the Switch?
Once you make the switch to a reusable menstrual cup, you’ll never look at tampons the same way again. Menstrual cups are a healthy, comfortable, and environmentally responsible alternative to disposable feminine care products.
Also of Interest:
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber
Paris on April 26, 2019:
I'm definitely considering switching to menstrual cups and this article helped. Thanks for the info!