The benefits of menstrual cups are vast.
You may have heard about how they’re better for the environment, reusable, chemical-free — and getting more popular by the day.
It all sounds pretty good, right?
But there are some things to be aware of too.
If you’re wondering how does a menstrual cup work? — and curious about what exactly it is — look no further.
Here’s all the deets on benefits, drawbacks, and how to use them properly.
In this article: 📝
- What is a menstrual cup?
- Why should we use menstrual cups?
- What are the disadvantages of menstrual cups?
- Is a menstrual cup painful?
- Is a menstrual cup or tampon better?
- Are menstrual cups safer than tampons?
- Can you sleep with a menstrual cup?
- Does a menstrual cup leak when full?
- How do I know when my menstrual cup is full?
What is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups are small, funnel-shaped cups you insert into your vagina to catch and collect period blood.
They’re made from flexible (commonly medical grade) materials like silicone or rubber.
Why should we use menstrual cups?
Well, there’s no “should” about it, but here are some of the benefits.
They’re reusable, so they’re better for the environment than single-use tampons and pads. 🌱
Cups hold more blood than other methods, so depending on your flow, you can use a single cup for up to twelve hours.
There’s less odor than pads (as blood isn’t exposed to air).
And they’re also easy to use.
Ruby Cup is also regularly listed as one of the best menstrual cups for beginners.
What are the disadvantages of menstrual cups?
There are some things to bear in mind if you’re switching to menstrual cups for the first time.
Potential risks and problems include:
- Leakage or slipping (and general mess)
- Pain and minor injuries
- Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) — rare, but it can happen
- Dislodging an Intrauterine Device (IUD)
- Allergic Reactions
- Difficulties inserting and removing cups
- Not finding the right fit
- Needing to wash and sterilize them regularly
Is a menstrual cup painful?
If you know how to use a menstrual cup properly, it shouldn’t be painful at all.
For women inserting a menstrual cup for the first time, it might feel uncomfortable or just a bit strange at first.
But pain should not be a sensation felt.
Lubricating your cup with water (or a water-based lube) will make it much smoother to insert.
Inserting anything into the vagina has the potential to cause pain or injury.
So be careful, use a properly sized cup and stay mindful of things like long nails.
If a menstrual cup is causing you pain, there might be anatomical reasons for this.
So chat with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any issues.
Is a menstrual cup or tampon better?
In the tampons vs. cups debate, it really depends on what you prefer and find easier.
Cups hold more blood and don’t dry out your vaginal walls.
They’re also a good option for swimming during your period.
On the other hand, you need to wash them each time, which can be a pain if you’re out and about.
Some people struggle to figure out how to insert a menstrual cup.
In this case, a menstrual cup applicator might help.
Equally, how to remove a menstrual cup can be a learning curve.
You could also consider a menstrual disc vs. a cup.
Discs are, well, disc-shaped, as opposed to their cup-shaped cousins.
You can leave them in for roughly the same amount of time, but most aren’t reusable.
So again, it all comes down to what you prefer.
Are menstrual cups safer than tampons?
Both tampons and menstrual cups are safe to use.
If you insert them properly and don’t leave them in for longer than advised, you should be none the wiser you are on your period.
There are, of course, the dangers of Toxic Shock Syndrome and infection if used outside the recommended use, but your overall risk is pretty low.
As menstrual cups are reusable, cleaning is an extra consideration you don’t have with tampons.
Just make sure you know how to clean menstrual cups properly and wash your hands before you insert and remove your cup.
Can you sleep with a menstrual cup?
Because you can wear a menstrual cup for up to twelve hours (depending on how heavy your flow is), you can use them for overnight protection.
If your cup fills up and you notice any leaks, you may have to empty it during the night (or you can double up with a pad to prevent a messy night).
Does a menstrual cup leak when full?
Like any other period product, menstrual cups can leak from time to time.
Leaks are more likely if your cup is full or it doesn’t fit properly.
If your cup fits snugly, it forms a “seal” around your vaginal wall, so it shouldn’t move much.
To stop leaks, empty your cup regularly before it overflows.
You should also make sure your cup fits well.
Most come in small and large sizes, so try switching if you suspect the fit isn’t quite right.
How do I know when my menstrual cup is full?
Most of the time, you can’t actually feel when your cup is full.
There are some signs, though.
Some users report a “heavy” feeling.
Others talk about a “bubbling” sensation.
You might also spot warning leaks or feel like your cup is slipping.
When you start using a menstrual cup, experiment with how often you need to empty it.
Start by changing your cup every two to four hours.
If it’s not that full, try going a bit longer next time.
You’ll soon know what’s right for your flow.
So, there you have it!
If you’re an eco-conscious mama, menstrual cups are a clear winner.
But don’t just take our word for it.
The great menstrual cup debate is ongoing in the Peanut community.
It’s just one of the many conversations we’re having. 🎙