Did you know that menstrual cups have been around since as early as 1867, predating the first sanitary pads by a decade and the first modern commercial tampons by more than 50 years? It’s only in today’s times that menstrual cups have become mainstream, a good 150 years after they were first introduced. However, menstrual cups are certainly not widespread with research showing that only between 11 and 33 per cent of women are aware of menstrual cups and their benefits.
That said, if you’ve heard about them and are curious about their uses, pros and cons, read on to know. But before we delve into the details, let’s first understand what a menstrual cup is, and if it’s something you should consider:
What Is A Menstrual Cup?Considering we’re discussing menstruation and feminine hygiene products, naturally, a menstrual cup is a type of reusable feminine hygiene product. It’s a small, flexible funnel-shaped cup made of either rubber or silicone, and is inserted into the vagina to collect discarded tissue from the uterine walls during one’s period.
In terms of efficiency, cups can hold more blood than other methods, allowing many women to use them as an eco-friendly substitute to tampons or sanitary pads. And depending on your flow, it is safe to wear a cup for up to 12 hours.
Should You Use A Menstrual Cup?Now that you understand what the product is, it begs the question: who is it for and will it work for your requirements? To figure out the right size for you, you should first consult your gynaecologist to figure out whether it makes sense for you. Consider a menstrual after you factor in the following, in consultation with your doctor:
• Your age• Length of your cervix• Your flow• Strength of your pelvic floor muscles• If you’ve given birth vaginally
It is important to note that smaller menstrual cups are recommended for women below the age of 30 who haven’t given birth vaginally. Larger sizes are recommended for women who are over 30 years old, and have given birth vaginally or have a heavier period.
The Pros Of Using A Menstrual CupWhen considering using a menstrual cup, these pros or benefits can help you make the decision.
• Menstrual cups are cost effective as they’re long lasting, eco-friendly, and reusable, and come with a one-time payment as opposed to tampons or sanitary pads you have to regularly stock up on. • Menstrual cups are safe to use as they collect rather than absorb blood. This way, you’re not at risk of getting toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare bacterial infection associated with the use of tampons.• You can have intercourse while wearing a cup. While most reusable cups need to be taken out before you have sex, the soft disposable ones can stay in while you get intimate. Not only will your partner not feel the cup, you also won’t have to worry about leaks.
The Cons Of Using A Menstrual CupWith every positive comes a negative. Understand some of the drawbacks a menstrual cup can have, so you can make an informed decision.
• A cup can be messy to remove. If you find yourself in a place or position that makes it difficult or awkward to remove your cup, spills may be inevitable. • A cup can prove to be difficult to insert or remove, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. You may not get the right fold when you insert your menstrual cup, or you may have a hard time pinching the base to pull the cup down and out.• Finding the right fight is not easy because they’re not a one-size-fits-all product. That means you may have to try out a few brands and sizes before finding the perfect one for you. We recommend opting for the disposable variety for the first few attempts. • If not careful about the quality of the product, you could have an allergic reaction to the material. While most menstrual cups are made from latex-free materials like silicone or rubber, those with rubber or silicone allergies are still at risk• It may cause vaginal irritation if a menstrual isn’t cleaned and cared for properly. • It may also cause discomfort if you insert the cup without any lubrication.
It’s important to note that there can be an increased chance for infection if you don’t properly maintain and store your menstrual cup. To avoid any issues, it is recommended you wash the menstrual cup very well, rinse it, disinfect it, and let it dry. Don’t reuse a disposable menstrual cup, and make sure to thoroughly wash your hands before and after use.