Ecological, affordable, durable and convenient. These are some of the reasons why more and more women have decided to switch disposable menstrual pads and tampons to a reusable menstrual cup.
Menstrual cup is a small bell-shaped feminine hygiene product made of medical grade silicone or rubber and placed inside the vagina during menstruation. Unlike pads and tampons which absorb menstrual fluid, menstrual cup collects the fluid inside the cup. The cup is then removed, emptied, washed and reinserted a few times per day.
Eco-friendly menstrual cups have become increasingly popular within the past few years as many women are seeking to replace disposable products with more sustainable alternatives. An average woman uses about 10 000 menstrual pads during her lifetime. When properly maintained, one menstrual cup can last for up to 10 years, so the amount of waste saved is considerable. Menstrual cup is also a much cheaper option in the long term. Since one menstrual cup costs only 20-30 €, the cup will have paid itself back after a few menstrual cycles.
Menstrual cup is a convenient and hygienic choice
Menstrual cups have so many advantages compared to the more traditional pads and tampons that it’s actually surprising that it hasn’t been until recent years that they’ve started to become more mainstream. In addition to being environmentally friendly and affordable, menstrual cup is hygienic and comfortable to use - as long as the right technique has been mastered.
One big advantage of the menstrual cup is its practicality. The cup can be used for up to 12 hours before emptying it depending on the amount of menstrual fluid. It is safe to use during the night without having to worry about leaks. You will also not “run out” of the cup, as you may do with pads or tampons. You also won’t be surprised by periods because you can already place the cup inside while waiting for the periods to start, not just when they have already started.
The menstrual cup is practical especially for women who do a lot of sports. The menstrual cup can be used during exercising without worrying about leaking or without the chafing of pads. The cup also gives you the freedom to enjoy swimming - and as we do here in Finland, going to sauna - and it is invisible on the outside.
Even though the menstrual cup is placed inside the vagina, it doesn’t scratch or irritate the vaginal walls or dry mucous tissue. No association has been made between menstrual cups and TSS (toxic shock syndrome), a potentially fatal bacterial illness, which has been associated with the use of tampons. This is most likely because the menstrual cup doesn’t irritate the vaginal mucous tissue, and thus doesn’t change the vaginal flora in any considerable amount. Menstrual cup can be a more comfortable option compared to menstrual pads which can often feel sweaty, itchy or cause you to chafe.
The pros of the menstrual cup in a nutshell:
- Menstrual cup is eco-friendly and reduces the amount of waste
- One menstrual cup costs 20-30 € and can last for up to 10 years when maintained properly
- Menstrual cup doesn’t irritate the vaginal mucous tissue, change the vaginal flora or irritate the skin
- Menstrual cup is hygienic and safe to use and it hasn’t been associated with TSS
- Menstrual cup can be used while doing sports, swimming or in the sauna
- Menstrual cup can be used for up to 12 h
- Menstrual cup can be placed anytime during the menstrual cycle, even when waiting for periods to start
- You will never run out of the cup, as you may do with pads or tampons
The downside with menstrual cup is that it takes some practice to learn to use it and the learning can get a bit messy. The menstrual cup can leak if it’s not properly placed. Some people also feel more comfortable with menstrual pads which are used externally. Best is to choose the product and method that you’re most comfortable with.
How to use the menstrual cup
A variety of different sizes, shapes and colors of menstrual cups are available on the market. The smaller sizes are recommended for women with lighter flow and the larger sizes for women who have given vaginal birth or who have a heavy flow. The popular Finnish brand Lunette offers two sizes, 25 ml ja 30 ml. The cup is emptied 2-4 times a day depending on the amount of the flow.
Placing the menstrual cup can feel a bit difficult at first but gets much easier with a bit of practice. It is good to practice the placement of the menstrual cup in between periods. The use of the menstrual cup follows these steps:
- Wash your hands with water and mild soap always before and after using the menstrual cup.
- Fold the menstrual cup into a c-shape: first flatten the cup and then fold it to double. Place the cup inside the vagina by pushing it up and slightly back so that the stem is completely inside the vagina.
- Make sure that the cup unfolds by twisting the cup or gently pulling from its stem. The cup will stay in place with the help of the vaginal muscles and creates a light seal against the vaginal walls. The cup shouldn’t cause any discomfort when correctly placed.
- Remove the cup by pulling from the stem or the base of the cup. Empty the cup and rinse it with water and mild soap and then reinsert.
- At the end of the cycle, disinfect the menstrual cup by boiling it in water for five minutes. Lunette provides a little pouch where you can place the menstrual cup to wait for the next use.
For further advice, check out the How to use your Lunette Menstrual Cup video which illustrates the use of the menstrual cup.
Everything You Need to Know About Using Menstrual Cups
Are Menstrual Cups Dangerous? 17 Things to Know About Safe Use