Menstrual cups are a great help for women during their periods. They serve as an alternative to traditional sanitary towels and tampons. In this case, menstrual cups can be either disposable or reusable. Depending on the manufacturer, they have different stiffness, size, length, width and are made from different materials. Finding the right menstrual cup means having a good understanding of the variety of products available on the market, as well as considering your own preferences and personal needs.
Part 1 of 4: Finding the Right Menstrual Cup
Step 1. Check out the available range of bowls
Many menstrual cup manufacturers offer several variations of different models at once.
- Read the information about different brands of menstrual cups so you have a good understanding of what materials they are made from and what features they have.
- Among all the variety offered, you should think about the size of the bowl, its color, capacity, the stiffness of the upper rib, the rigidity of the lower part that collects the secretions, the length of the bowl, its width along the upper rib, the materials used to make the bowl, and also about the need whether your bowl is disposable or reusable.
Step 2. Start by determining the size
There are no established size standards for menstrual cups as there are for shoes or clothing. A “small” bowl from one manufacturer may differ markedly from a “small” bowl from another manufacturer. However, most manufacturers provide their recommendations for choosing the size of the bowl (small or large), depending on some characteristics of the female body and certain categories of women.
- Bowls usually come in two sizes: small or large. General guidelines for the selection of the bowl size are only a starting point, later you can decide to change the brand and the size of the bowl in order to choose the product that suits your needs perfectly.
- If you are a teenager, virgin, less than 30 years old, you have never had a natural birth, you exercise regularly, then you can try to start with a small bowl.
- When choosing a cup of small size, the main point is its comfortable placement in the vagina, and not the question of how much discharge it can accommodate.
- The large bowls are intended for women over 30 who have given birth or have very heavy menstrual flow.
Step 3. Give yourself some time to get used to the menstrual cup
Once you've decided on the brand and size of your menstrual cup, give yourself some time to get used to it. During the habituation period, in addition to the cup, wear a pad or a daily pad to prevent leakage.
- You may need to go through a couple of menstrual cycles to finally determine if your first choice is the perfect option for you.
- Menstrual cup manufacturers understand that using their products requires getting used to. Some of them even offer a money-back guarantee to new customers if they don't like the product.
Step 4. Adjust to the capacity of your menstrual cup
The capacity of the menstrual cups varies depending on the brand.
- All menstrual cups can hold more than a normal tampon for normal menstrual flow.
- The average recommended wearing time for the bowl between emptyings is 10-12 hours.
- If you have a very heavy discharge, empty the bowl every 6 to 8 hours to prevent leakage.
- Carry a supply of traditional hygiene products with you until you are comfortable using your menstrual cup without leaking.
Step 5. Consider alternatives for menstrual cups
The menstrual cup you use should be comfortable. A reusable menstrual cup will last you for years.
- Once you've found the right menstrual cup for yourself, you shouldn't feel it at all. If you feel uncomfortable, try a different size or manufacturer.
- Try a bowl that is narrower at the top or more flexible at the bottom for collection.
Step 6. Try disposable menstrual cups
You may find these menstrual cups more comfortable to use. There are two types of disposable menstrual cups.
- The first type of disposable menstrual cups is thrown away immediately after a single use, and the second is thrown away after the end of menstruation.
- Disposable menstrual cups are made from a highly flexible material. The collection container for such bowls is very light and thin.
Step 7. Find the right length for your menstrual cup
If you are leaning towards using a reusable menstrual cup but you find it uncomfortable, look at the length of the cup.
- Cup length is often the single biggest cause of discomfort when using reusable menstrual cups.
- If you are unsure of the cause of the discomfort, try using a medium-length bowl.
- Most bowls have a stem at the base that can be trimmed to make the bowl more comfortable in length.
- If you have heavy periods or have trouble finding a comfortable menstrual cup, try comparing menstrual cups from the same manufacturer or from several well-known manufacturers. You can find more information about them on the Internet.
Step 8. Choose a menstrual cup with the right firmness
In the absence of specific medical requirements for the menstrual cups produced, they can be both stiffer and softer.
- Some women are more comfortable with the stiffer bell-shaped bowls. In addition, stiff bowls leak less because they hold their shape better.
- Stiffness helps the cup to open up after insertion into the vagina and to press tightly against its walls, this avoids problems with the cup slipping or crushing it into the vagina.
- Stiffer bowls are usually easier to remove, as squeezing a bowl at the base usually makes it easier to break the suction tightness.
- However, due to the increased rigidity of the cup, you can feel it inside the vagina, feel pressure on its walls, and some discomfort.
- Whiter, softer menstrual cups put less pressure on the bladder, tend to feel more comfortable and work well for women with specific vaginal structures.
- Soft menstrual cups can be difficult to remove because the pressure of your fingers trying to break the cup's suction will not respond to the entire cup. In general, soft menstrual cups are more likely to leak because they tend to change shape under the pressure of the moving muscles in the vaginal wall.
Step 9. Choose the color of the menstrual cup
Several manufacturers make menstrual cups in all colors of the rainbow.
- Disposable menstrual cups are usually clear. If you like a clear color, then most manufacturers of reusable menstrual cups also have clear menstrual cups.
- The colored color of the menstrual cup helps to hide the formation of stains on it from prolonged use. Soaking in hydrogen peroxide can be used to remove stains from clear menstrual cups.
Part 2 of 4: Benefits of Using a Menstrual Cup
Step 1. Know that you can use your menstrual cup while you exercise
A menstrual cup is perfect for women who exercise regularly. In addition, some disposable menstrual cups can be used during intercourse.
- Disposable menstrual cups are not contraceptive and do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Refillable menstrual cups are made of thicker materials and are not suitable for use during intercourse.
- Menstrual cups can be used during physical activity, such as swimming, playing sports, or cycling.
Step 2. Using a menstrual cup allows you to lengthen the time between hygiene procedures and get rid of the smell of menstrual flow
Conventional hygiene products require a change every few hours. And the menstrual cup can be left on for up to 12 hours.
- In addition, when using sanitary napkins, an unpleasant odor is generated due to the contact of menstrual flow with the air.
- The menstrual cup collects secretions inside the vagina and prevents odors.
Step 3. Menstrual cups reduce the risk of infections
Keeping your menstrual cup clean is associated with a lower risk of infection.
- The menstrual cup does not alter the pH of the vagina, nor does it cause the microscopic damage to the tissues of the vagina that is common with tampons.
- Changes in pH and “microdamage” can lead to bacterial infections. This can be avoided by using a menstrual cup.
Step 4. Please note that the menstrual cups you use must be approved by Roszdravnadzor
Menstrual cups sold in the Russian Federation must be approved by Roszdravnadzor. The presence of the appropriate marketing authorization indicates that the menstrual cups of a particular manufacturer are safe to use. Most menstrual cups are made from hypoallergenic, non-toxic materials.
Some menstrual cups can be safely used by women with latex allergies. To be sure, be sure to carefully read the instructions that came with your particular menstrual cup
Step 5. Using a menstrual cup avoids toxic shock syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome is usually associated with the use of tampons during menstruation.
- Toxic shock syndrome is a sign that a bacterial infection is developing due to the use of tampons.
- There are currently no reported cases of toxic shock symptom onset when using menstrual cups.
Step 6. Using a reusable menstrual cup saves money and the environment
Reusable menstrual cups are economical and environmentally friendly.
- The price of one menstrual cup is higher than the price of a pack of pads or tampons, but you can use it for years.
- Disposable menstrual cups are cheaper than reusable menstrual cups and are comparable in price to traditional hygiene products (but it all depends on where you bought them).
- Reusable menstrual cups can help reduce waste.
Step 7. Menstrual cups are easy to use
Once you are comfortable with inserting and removing a menstrual cup, you will find that using it regularly during your period is easy.
- Each menstrual cup manufacturer provides step-by-step instructions on how to insert and remove a menstrual cup, these instructions can also be posted on the manufacturer's website, and in some cases manufacturers post videos on YouTube to help explain the instructions for using their products.
- The menstrual cup is inserted into the vagina in a folded state at a slight slope towards the back of the vagina, after which the menstrual cup is pushed slightly so that it opens and locks in place.
- To remove the menstrual cup, it is first squeezed at the base and then pulled out. It is not worth pulling the bowl just by the tail, as the bowl is held in place by a sealed suction. If you pull the cup by the tail, you can injure the tissues of the vagina.
Part 3 of 4: Disadvantages of using a menstrual cup
Step 1. The process of emptying the menstrual cup
Emptying your menstrual cup may be less clean. When you remove your menstrual cup, it is filled with the collected secretions from the past 8-12 hours.
- It will take some practice to work out the most convenient way to remove the bowl. Many women do this over the toilet to avoid spilling the bowl on their clothes or on the floor. If possible, you can practice removing the bowl in the shower.
- The removed menstrual cup can be rinsed with fresh water and reinserted for the next 8-12 hours.
- Until you are fully familiar with inserting and removing your menstrual cup, you can additionally use pads or panty liners.
- When using a public toilet, you will need to consider the optimal bowl rinsing strategy, as individual toilet stalls usually do not have sinks.
Step 2. Difficulty inserting the menstrual cup may occur
Some women have difficulty inserting the menstrual cup into the vagina.
- Typically, problems with inserting the menstrual cup are more common in adolescent girls and young women.
- Virgins can also have problems inserting the menstrual cup into the vagina.
Step 3. It may be difficult to remove the menstrual cup
Difficulty removing the menstrual cup occurs more often than problems with inserting it.
- It is important not to pull the bowl by the tail. Since the cup is held in place by suction, pulling it out by the tail can irritate and damage the vaginal tissue.
- To remove the bowl correctly, squeeze its base to break the suction tightness, and only then pull the bowl out.
- After removing the bowl, you need to pour its contents into the toilet, rinse the bowl with fresh water, and then insert it back into the vagina.
Step 4. The need to sterilize the menstrual cup after each menstrual cycle
At the end of each period, your menstrual cup needs to be cleaned thoroughly. If you think that you will not have time for this, then you better refrain from using menstrual cups.
- You can sterilize your menstrual cup by boiling it for five minutes in a small pot of water.
- Other sterilization methods are also suitable for menstrual cups using disinfectant solutions, which are used to sterilize baby bottles and nipples.
- In any case, follow the directions for use of your menstrual cup in the instructions for use.
Part 4 of 4: Precautions
Step 1. Choose a latex-free menstrual cup
If you are allergic to latex, there are menstrual cups made from materials that are safe for you.
Be sure to read the instructions for your menstrual cup to be sure. If you are allergic to latex, lean towards using a medical grade silicone menstrual cup
Step 2. Consult your gynecologist if you have an intrauterine device installed
Most gynecologists oppose the use of menstrual cups in conjunction with an intrauterine device.
- There have been cases of displacement of the spiral when inserting or removing the menstrual cup.
- Before purchasing a menstrual cup, check with your gynecologist to see if it is safe for you to use it.
Step 3. For certain health problems, avoid using a menstrual cup
If you have any concerns about this, then to be completely sure you should consult your doctor.
- You should not use a menstrual cup if you have recently given birth, if you have recently had a miscarriage, or have had an abortion.
- Do not use a menstrual cup if you have a curled uterus.
- Avoid using a menstrual cup if you have been prohibited from using tampons due to a surgical procedure or other medical reason.
- Do not use a menstrual cup if you have been diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse.
Step 4. Find out if you are at risk of developing endometriosis from using a menstrual cup
Check with your gynecologist about this before trying a menstrual cup. This is highly unlikely, but if you are concerned, it is best to discuss this with your doctor.