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Menstrual Cups: What Are They?

Menstrual Cups: What Are They?

Team Missy

Have you heard about Menstrual Cups? 

We had, but we weren’t entirely sure what all the hype was about. And honestly were weren’t sure that it was for us.

Periods are a drag, but sadly a fact of life if you posses a uterus. And Ireland isn’t exactly a country that encourages healthy attitudes about bodies or periods. So, it’s really no surprise that sometimes people are freaked out by their own bodies. Especially when you’re younger, amirite?

After hearing lots of positive stories about Menstrual Cups we decided to do some investigating and now we see why women are saying goodbye to pads and tampons forever. Here’s everything that you need to know about Menstrual Cups.

What Are Menstrual Cups?

A menstrual cup is a silicone sanitary product that you insert into your vagina to catch your period blood. Most menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone or rubber.

You insert it similar to a tampon. The cup creates almost like a seal so leakages do not happen and the blood is collected in the cup.

Em…Why?

There are a number of benefits that come with using a menstrual cup over tampons and pads…

One menstrual cup can be reused for a number of years once it’s looked after correctly. The average person with a womb spends €10 each month on tampons and pads. A menstrual cups costs around €20-€30. So, after 3 months use a menstrual cup has already paid for themselves!

Some of us reading this might take it for granted that we can easily afford that few euro every month for sanitary products, but this is not the case for every woman. Period Poverty is a serious issue that affects many around the world, including Ireland.

Menstrual cups are environmentally friendly too. It saves loads of waste because it’s reusable. There are no chemicals, and no plastic waste. Did you know that a number of chemicals are used to produce ordinary pads and tampons? Because we didn’t!

Using a menstrual cup is no harder than a non applicator tampon. It’s really just about learning how to use a menstrual cup. Like with anything, it can take a bit of practice in the beginning. Look, the first few times you use it might terrify you, but it is worth sticking with.

How do I use a menstrual cup?

It might sound complicated and a bit scary but once you get the hang of it it’s super easy. You’ll want to make sure that your fingers and cup are wet before you start. You’ll then need to fold your cup and fold it again, squat, and for lack of a better expression, put it up there and then the cup should open up (you might hear or feel a pop). 

It shouldn’t go up as far as a tampon; it should sit very comfortably at the opening of your vagina for the blood to flow into. If it’s not comfortable, it’s not in properly – it’ll take a few tries when you’re new to it, but you’ll get there and eventually it’ll become a breeze.

To take it out you just pinch it slightly to break the seal and then just pull it out genteelly using the stem. Then you just empty it in the toilet, give it a rinse in the sink and re-insert it.

The trick to inserting it correctly is to fold the cup. And there are many different folds. There are great YouTube clips that show you all the different folds.

The thought of inserting a cup “up there” may sound kinda scary, but it’s really not. It’s perfectly safe and comfortable. In fact most women who use a menstrual cup say that they wouldn’t return to pads or tampons.

What Are The Benefits Of Menstrual Cups?

You don’t need to worry about getting Toxic Shock Syndrome, which isn’t common, but you know… a worry!

As we’ve already said, they are environmentally friendly. Just imagine the amount of waste accumulated by sanitary products throughout life dealing with periods.

Pads and tampons can be irritating due to the chemicals used to make them. Some women believe that they even prolong your period and make it more painful.

Some people also claim to have shorter periods when using menstrual cups and that their period pains eased.

In a slightly bizarre turn of events a lot of people who hate tampons love menstrual cups. They are more comfortable to wear compared to tampons as the cup is made of soft silicone it moves with your body.

Where Can I Buy A Menstruation Cup?

There are lots of different types of Menstrual Cups on the market. Your local Pharmacy should have them. Superdrug and Boots also sell them. 

And of course you can purchase them online too. We know, shopping online…revolutionary! Mooncup and OrganiCup are among some of the most popular brands.

There’s even menstrual cups especially made for younger users, like the Lunette Menstrual Cup which comes in different colours! Not only is it smaller and shorter – it is squishier, so it’s easier to insert.

Here’s a handy guide that we found to help you find your perfect menstrual cup.

Answers To Some Questions You Might Have

What if it overflows?

It shouldn’t. Although it mightn’t seem like it, you only lose about 3-5 teaspoons of blood during your period.

Can it fall out?

No. When inserting you fold the cup and when it’s in the vagina it unfolds and acts like a suction cup and seals to the sides. So, it’s highly unlikely it would just come out.

Can I use them if I’m a virgin?

Yep! They’re no different from using tampons. If you’ve started your period then you can use a menstrual cup.

What about leakages?

See Also

Menstrual cups are designed to not leak, so if you’re experiencing leaking you might not have it in properly or it might not have done the magic pop. You should feel a pop once you’ve inserted it and removed your fingers – that means it open and ready for business.

Can I play sports?

Yes! You can do everything as “normal”. In fact some even think that menstrual cups have less restricting effects than pads or tampons. You can also swim.

Can you feel it when it’s in??

No. If it’s uncomfortable that means it’s not inserted correctly.

Will it not smell?

No. In fact there should be no smell at all. Menstrual blood develops an oder once it comes in contact with air. Because menstrual cups create a seal it will not be exposed to air, meaning no smell.

Can I use it at night?

Yes, you can use it at night. Just empty it before you go to bed, reinsert it and empty it again in the morning.

How long can I leave it in for?

Most menstrual cups advise being left in for 4-8 hours before you empty it and reinsert it, but some also say up to 12 hours, so read the instructions that comes with it. Most people say that they pop it in in the morning and go about their day without really remembering that they are on their period as they don’t have to do anything with their menstrual cup until the evening – that sounds a bit magically tbh!

How do I clean it?

During your period giving it a rising with water in the sink at home after you empty it is fine, but once you’re finished your period you should sterilise it. Some brands come with a container to sterilise the cups in. Otherwise just pop it in an old jam jar with water and microwave for 5 minutes. Keep it in the jar when you’re not using it between periods to keep it clean.

What about when I’m out and about?

You’ll be fine! Usually menstrual cups only have to be emptied once every 4-12 hours depending on your flow. But you can remove it and empty it in the toilet when popping to the loo when you’re out and about or in school/college. Just use a tissue to give it a quick clean before reinserting it. It’s ideal to give it a wash, but if you can’t it’s ok to do this too, just don’t make it a regular thing.

Top Tips For Using Menstrual Cups

  • Try boiling the cup in hot water to soften it up before inserting
  • You can also leave the cup wet or use some water-based lubricant for some extra help when inserting.
  • Like all of us at some point, you might still be getting to know your anatomy so some practice using the cup might be needed. When you use it for the first time, give yourself plenty of time to try it out in a place you feel comfortable.
  • Give yourself time to adjust to the change. Many reported that they weren’t sure that they liked using a menstrual cup or said that they hated it the first time they used it, but discovered that they loved it after using it for 2-3 period cycles. Everyone is different and if you don’t like using a menstrual cup that’s fine. But if you’re curious about them and feel it may suit your lifestyle better than pads or tampons give it a go and see what you think.

What are your thoughts on Menstrual Cups? Let us know in the comments or if you have any questions.

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