After learning about menstrual cups recently, I couldn’t help but try and know more about them. Having used sanitary pads so far, even the idea of a menstrual cup seemed alien. Exploring all the factors one could worry about menstrual cups took me a while. After finally deciding to use it for me, the nervousness was real. The confusion as to what to buy was real. The fear was also real.
So, I decided to make a blog with a personal note about everything I experienced. Although I have no medical expertise, it wouldn’t hurt to tell people what I have experienced. If you need professional guidance, my suggestion is to visit a gynecologist to discuss all your doubts and fear. The one thing I would like to tell you is more questions might arise for someone after using a menstrual cup for the first time.
Now that the fair warning is out of the way, let’s get real!
What is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cup is a silicon cup that can be used by women during their periods. It serves the same purpose as pads and tampons. But a menstrual cup is the better option comparatively, for numerous reasons.
Here is the wiki definition of menstrual cup:
A menstrual cup is a menstrual hygiene device that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. Its purpose is to collect menstrual fluid. Menstrual cups are usually made of flexible medical grade silicone, latex, or a thermoplastic isomer. They are shaped like a bell with a stem or a ring.
Why menstrual cups are better than pads and tampons?
It is reusable! Yes, just like cloth pads they are reusable. The menstrual cup has a simple maintenance process.
It is cost-efficient! Pads and tampons are not reusable. To use the ones with decent quality involves a lot of money and you have to keep buying them regularly. But a menstrual cup brought once can be used for five years. (Maximum limit as per my research) You can change it once a year if you feel uncomfortable! The price of decent quality menstrual cup starts from INR 300/-. And even if you use it only once a year it costs lesser than regular sanitary pads.
It is environment-friendly! Menstrual cups don’t generate waste like pads. Even when it is discarded, they are recyclable and less damaging to the environment.
So, after doing my fair share of research, I bought a menstrual cup and waited for the opportunity to use it. When it was time to use, I chickened out and opted for a pad. It was pretty late in the night and I didn’t want to lose my sleep becoming paranoid. So, the next morning it was finally time.
Was it painful?
But was it worth it?
Don’t panic. I tried to fold the cup’s opening in order to insert it and failed miserably. I thought maybe it was not for me. But then I searched for ways to fold the cup opening. One of them was good enough- punch down fold.
Here are other folds:
Image courtesy: https://www.juju.com.au/pages/menstrual-cup-folding-methods
You can check out this website that has videos on how to fold the cup as shown in the image:
After folding it was easier- not easy- but only easier to insert. Because it was still painful and it took some time. After inserting there was the next problem. I could feel that the cup was still folded after entering the vaginal opening.
As per my research, I rotated from side to side, to see if the fold would unfold on its own. But to add to my worry it didn’t. The fear of leaking started to slip in. I was willing to take a risk. But when I went to check on it after a while, I found the stem of the cup and tried to pull it out. The familiar pain was there as I tried. But the menstrual cup was a little far in, and I started to panic. But the pull made me understand the cup had unfolded and formed a vacuum. So, there was no leakage.
After finding the base of the cup, I pinched the bottom of the cup and released the vacuum, and pulled out the cup in one quick motion. That was it.
Things I learned:
- It will be painful while both inserting the menstrual cup and removing it.
- The cup doesn’t immediately unfold and form a vacuum- it takes some time. But in some cases, you might not have inserted it properly. So please be on the lookout until you get comfortable with the cup.
- Don’t try to cut off the bottom stem of the cup, because after a while the cup is well inside and the stem is pretty helpful while removing.
- There is no need to check every single hour. You can understand the time limit based on flow level. But basically, it stands good at least up to six hours.
- While using the cup, empty the fluid and flush. Wash your cup in tap water. It is okay to insert a wet cup as per my research. But if you must, carry around tissue to dry it before inserting.
- Once your cycle is over store it away. When it is time to use it again you can boil water in a bowl and put your cup inside for a few minutes. That’s it!
- Some people might clean with hot water every time they store it away and before using it for the next cycle. It is a personal choice!
Now that we have made that clear, I will share what made me think it was worth the pain.
- The cup was leak-proof. One important thing we expect from any menstrual products.
- I had a good night’s sleep with no disturbance or worry.
- There is only a sensation for a few minutes, but after that, there is no indication about your periods or the cup! There is no itching or allergies like that can be caused by pads. There is no need to adjust your inner garments or dress.
- The satisfaction of not generating wastes and affecting the environment and saving up my money was just the cherry on top.
You can feel anxious or nervous about changing to a menstrual cup. But you have a lot of resources to help you transition into the practice. Do your share of research before starting!