Off late there is a lot of buzz about menstrual cups. While many women are still suffering from the problems raised by sanitary napkins, menstrual cups have become pretty famous. Menstrual cups are comparatively new in the market and has lots of benefits on the offer.
But unlike other traditional means used by women to date, menstrual cups require the user to know about the usage, removal, care, and side effects. As more and more people shift towards using menstrual cups, their search on the internet about the various aspects of this wonderful invention increases.
In that light, it will be helpful to look into the pros and cons of a menstrual cup, the procedure of daily care, usage and the popular concerns about cramps, pain, chances of infection and other issues related to its use.
If you are curious to know all about menstrual cups and or want to try it out for yourself, we hope our comprehensive piece helps you to make a good decision.
That brings us to a very common question associated with the menstrual cup, What is it? And how to put in a menstrual cup?
What Is A Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual cup is a small rubber or silicone holder that you can use during your chums. While napkins and tampons absorb the blood, the cup “holds” it.
How to put in a menstrual cup?
Before you start with your periods, you need to fold your menstrual cup neatly and insert it in your vagina like a tampon. If you can do this correctly, then you will not feel any discomfort with the cup. The process is similar to putting a birth control ring or diaphragm in position.
The cup pops open against the vaginal walls and then catches the blood drip. The best part is that you don’t need to worry about leakage!
How To Remove A Menstrual Cup?
Periods are painful enough, and you do not want to add menstrual cup pain to the mix. In that light, you have to know how to how to remove a menstrual cup properly without poking around, or accidentally scratching your privates with your nails.
To remove the menstrual cup without any damage to your private parts, you need to relax. Seriously, if your muscles are tensed, then the removal process will be difficult, time-taking and in worst-case scenarios, painful. Once you calm yourself down, your cup will come off very easily, and most importantly, it will be mess-free. However, if you find it difficult to reach the cup in its position, you can get one cup with a slightly longer head.
Types of menstrual cup
If you have come this far, then you must be ready to ditch your tampons and try something better. Indeed menstrual cups give you that option. If you are planning to buy a menstrual cup, these are the most common types that you can look into:
The Diva Cup:
This one has two varieties, Model 1 and Model 2. The former is ideal for women below 30 years of age who have never given birth. Model 2 caters to women who are 30 and above.
This is a silicon-based cup and can hold up to 12 hours. As per most reviews, this product is amazing.
This one has two products ts in one package. There is a small and a large one. As per the company website, the small cup is for the light flow days, and the larger one is for the heavy-duty days. The product has good reviews, and the best part is that it does not leak if inserted properly.
This product too has two options, Model 1 and 2. Model 1 is designed for light flow days, or for women who have not given birth yet, while Model 2 is for everyone. The product is very safe to use, made from medical-quality silicone which can last for up to 12 hours. As per the product’s review on Amazon, some women found it very difficult to pull out the product and that has led to low reviews.
This is way cheaper than the other products available in the market. The best part of this product is its softness and buyers drool about it. Another key takeaway of the product is that it comes with a money-back guarantee. So, if you do not like the product you can also give it back and get a refund. However, the product does take time, especially for first-time users.
This is the ideal product for first-time users. It is very easy and smooth to insert the product which makes it ideal for beginners. The product comes with a tapered stem that is sleek and bendy. Due to this insertion and removal of the product is very easy.
More than 2000 women have brought this product off Amazon and have been quite satisfied with it. However, compared to other products, this one has a slightly higher learning curve.
Though this product does not allow leakage, some users found it difficult to insert and remove the cup. After the product is inserted, it has to be twisted and pulled a bit hard so that it unfolds itself. Lots of users found it difficult and were not quite successful in achieving it.
This one is also a good product that provides good leakage protection along with all the other features provided by the other brands. However, not every user is happy with the stem of the cup. The Company runs a charity and donates one cup to every woman in need of every single purchase.
Menstrual Cup Side Effects
While a lot of women have already moved on to menstrual cups, a few are still considering a shift. For these women, knowing the side effects of menstrual cups can be useful:
Choosing the ideal cup size becomes an issue. Most women often pick up the wrong size and it does not work out.
Though many menstrual cups can be left on for 12 hours at a stretch, if left in for longer than that, it can cause some bad odor. However, it has not been proved yet. Plus, wearing menstrual cups for too long increases the chances of a vaginal infection.
Though menstrual cups are great and are very easy to use, many a time, the cups get stuck and removing it is a huge issue. This mostly happens to women with a high cervix.
If placed incorrectly, menstrual cup cramps based on positioning near the cervix become a common thing.
Menstrual cups may not be ideal for certain women with medical conditions.
Menstrual Cup Dangers
Menstrual cups are considered quite safe within the medical community. In fact, many doctors recommend menstrual cups to the patients. However, there are some risks and dangers associated with the use of menstrual cups.
This especially goes out to women who are planning on a shift.
Irritation: Irritation while using a menstrual cup can occur due to many reasons, but it can be cured and prevented for most parts. For instance, if the cup is inserted without proper lubrication, it can cause some amount of discomfort.
In such cases, a small amount of water-based lube can be used for inserting the cup. The best way to prevent application irritation is by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Infection can also arise if the cup is not cleaned properly between two uses.
Menstrual Cup Infection: Infection due to menstrual cup usage is a very rare phenomenon. The only time it can occur is when the bacteria from the hands are transferred to the actual cup. For instance, yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis can occur if vaginal bacteria and the resulting pH level in that area is imbalanced.
You can reduce the chance of counteracting an infection if you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water every time before you hande the cup. Additionally, the cup needs to be washed thoroughly as well.
TSS: Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare complication can occur from certain vaginal infections. This generally happens when Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria, that are generally found in the nose, skin, and mouth, finds its way very deep in the body.
This condition generally occurs when a used tampon is worn for too long, or when the absorbency level of the tampon is too high.
So far, only one incident of TSS associated with menstrual cup usage has been reported.
To reduce the chances of TSS, the following points can be followed:
- Wash your hands well with proper antibacterial soap every time you have to insert or remove the cup.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions while cleaning the cup.
- Make use of a small amount of water-based lube on the outside of the cup before you insert it to hold it in position.
Sleeping With Menstrual Cup
Though it may seem odd, wearing a menstrual cup to sleep is actually possible and is not unsafe at all. In fact, sleeping wearing a menstrual cup is the perfect alternative to wearing maxi sanitary napkins. Once you get used to wearing menstrual caps, you will not find sanitary napkins very appealing.
Additionally, there is always a scope for leakage which is not the case when it comes to menstrual cups. One menstrual cup can be used for straight 12 hours so you need to worry about changing it.
However, initially you may find it difficult to sleep wearing a menstrual cup, but once you get the hang of it there is no going back.
How To Wash Menstrual Cup
Unlike napkins and tampons, menstrual cups have to be cleaned after every use. This is one way they are different from the tampons and napkins. A lot depends on the proper washing of the menstrual cups.
If the cups are not washed and cleaned properly, it can cause severe infection and will produce an awful stench.
So, here are a few ways, you can take proper care of your cup and clean it:
Begin by washing your hands and the cup with lukewarm water and perfume-free soap. Soap has a role to play in maintaining the pH level of your vagina so be very careful with your soap selection.
For the first use, washing the cup may not be enough. It is a good idea to boil the cup for about 20 mins. Make sure that the pot has enough water so that the cup does not burn.
To clean your cup daily, you can use any fragrance-free and oil-free soap. It’s ideal if the soap is mildly acidic. A ph level of 3.5 to 5.5 is just perfect. However, ensure that the soap is absolutely oil-free. If there is oil in the soap, they stick to the cup and create and can create irritation in the body.
Boiling the cup for 20 minutes before each menstrual cycle is advisable as this keeps the cup safe and fresh. However, if you forget to do that, you can make use of cup wipes to wipe your cup for daily usage.
Dealing With Odor
Yes, your cup might start to smell if proper care of the cup is not ensured. However, a smelly cup doesn’t mean that it is dirty. We all have different body types and different body types mean different body smells. So if your cup has an odor over time, then it is natural. Boiling your cup in water for 20 minutes can be ideal for dealing with this “smelly situation”.
You can also make use of hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to soak the cup for an hour. Lemon juice is also ideal for soaking the cup but nothing beats boiling!
While cleaning the cup, make sure to use cold water rinsing, or else it might leave stains. However, if your cup has stains on it already, keep it under the sun for some time. You can also use spirit, or lemon juice to handle the staining.
In addition to all these, it’s crucial to make sure that your hand is clean and your fingernails are properly washed before you start handling the menstrual cup.
Every time something new is introduced in the market, the pros and cons of the products come up as more and more people start using them. The same applies to menstrual cups. Yes, there are menstrual cup problems, but it cannot be denied that the product is safe, easy to use, and environmentally friendly. So if you still have not tried using this product, give it a shot and experience change. Who knows, it might just be the thing for you!