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What's Hot: The Menstrual Cup

22 November, 2022

Though they’ve been around since the 1930s, the idea of reusable internal wear was… well, scandalous. A sustainable and cost-efficient product for periods? Disgusting. But recently, interest in menstrual cups such as the Mooncup, Softcup and DivaCup has gone crazy. 

What is a menstrual cup?

Menstrual cups look like small rubber or silicone funnels (the kinda thing you might use to refill your olive oil bottle) but the difference is that they’re flexible enough to insert into your vagina where they catch and hold menstrual blood. 

They might not be for everyone, so check this list out for both menstrual cup pros and cons. 

The benefits of a menstrual cup

Menstrual cups are forever, not just for Christmas 

The average lifetime spend on period products adds up to almost £5,000. Not with a menstrual cup. A one-off purchase of around £20 will last you a decade.

Cups hold more blood

Menstrual cups hold almost five times the amount of liquid as a tampon. That means emptying them that much less. The rest of the time you can forget about them and get on with your life. Plus, they can be left in for up to 12 hours.

Less smell

You know that sickly sweet period blood smell? That occurs because the blood gets oxidised when it is exposed to air, which happens with pads or tampons. With menstrual cups, the seal prevents blood from being exposed to air — and there are no strings.

They’re less likely to leak 

When pads or tampons are full, they become soggy and stop absorbing. Has anyone in the history of ever slept with just a tampon in without pants and woken up with clean sheets? 

Because a cup can hold more volume and doesn’t leak, this is possible. Your cup should not overflow if it's inserted correctly (and if it is leaking, something isn’t right).

Menstrual cups are environmentally friendly

Tampons, applicators and pads all land up as landfill, contributing to the end of the earth. Reusable menstrual cups last much longer, which means you’re not contributing as much waste. 

Great for travelling

You can be self-sufficient off the beaten track with a cup — no more running around remote islands or tiny villages trying to find a shop that sells tampons.

They’re vagina-friendly

Cups that are made of 100% medical-grade silicone are hypoallergenic, latex-free and BPA-free. Chemicals, bleach or dyes are common in pads and tampons.

They’re less likely to contribute to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, according to some studies. Tampons can irritate your vaginal wall and they can also absorb healthy vaginal fluid.

You get to learn about your body

By collecting your period blood you really understand what your flow is really like in terms of volume, colour texture — and this is great information to better understand your body. Check out our blog post on “Period blood – how is this still a taboo?” to find out more.

They work for most people

They’re fine for virgins or swimmers and also virgin swimmers. 

Menstrual cup disadvantages

Menstrual cups can be a great option, but there are still some things to bear in mind. 

Menstrual cup insertion

Inserting any menstrual cup can take a bit of getting used to. There’s a certain knack to insertion that can be difficult to master to start with.

Finding the right fit

Cups can feel uncomfortable if the cup isn’t in right or if you need a different size. 

It's key to get the right size — otherwise, it's going to feel uncomfortable, it may leak and it can even irritate the urethra and cause you to get a urine infection. A menstrual cup that fits well will create a ‘seal’ around the vaginal wall, and won’t move much during the day.

They’re not suitable for everyone

You need to be careful using a cup after surgery or giving birth, and if you have an IUD/coil in.

One study in The Lancet reported that menstrual cup use led to an IUD becoming dislodged in 0.39% of menstrual cup users. However, it was found that 0.2% of IUDs can become dislodged spontaneously anyway. Another study found no increased risk of interference with the IUD. 

Risk of irritation or allergic reaction

Inserting any object into the vagina can cause pain, small injuries, a skin allergy or an allergic reaction. 

Beware of long nails or a cup that is too large, and check you have no known allergies to the material that the cup is made from. The same Lancet study found that less than 0.2% of menstrual cup users experienced pain or injury or an allergic reaction or rash. It also found no evidence that there was an increased risk of infection with cups compared to other period products.

They can be hard to take out

You shouldn’t pull on the stem when you remove it. Instead, pinch the base and pull and allow the collected fluid to empty into the toilet. Then wash the cup and reinsert it.

They can be messy

Some women are scared that emptying their cups in a public bathroom may resemble a Hunger Games bloodbath scene. Some women actively look forward to it. Whatever your stance, removing your cup can sometimes be messy. 

After disposing of the blood you need to rinse out your cup with hot soapy water and use a menstrual cup wash cleaner.

If you are suffering from heavy or painful periods and are looking for the right treatment, take our online assessment.

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