I recently came to know about the menstrual cup on an online mom’s group (First Moms Club) and was curious to try it out. I had been using sanitary napkins/ pads most of my life and had discovered tampons just a couple of years back. (Indians are huge propagators of maintaining virginity till marriage and anything that needs to be put inside the vagina is frowned upon, hence the ignorance). Tampons were a blessing to me since I have a heavy flow and hate the feeling of wetness and squishiness the pads provided. So I was ready to give the cup a go as soon as I found out about it. I have used it for 3 cycles now and would try my best to cover all queries and answer all questions anyone might have about it.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is basically a cup shaped device that is inserted inside the vagina to catch the menstrual blood. It collects the blood inside the body and needs to be removed to drain the contents. Since it collects the blood inside the body and not outside there is no issue of odour and wetness. More on the pros and cons a little later.
There are endless choices available online with amazing reviews but expensive for a trial. What if I didn’t like it and didn’t use it anymore? I ordered the Silky Cup from Amazon.com. I chose this cup because it wasn’t as expensive as the other more popular ones, looked decent enough and had good reviews. This one has a printed MRP of Rs 400/- but was available a little cheaper at amazon when I bought it.
The cup came decently wrapped in a black plastic. The outer box is sturdy and has a size chart printed on one side and instructions for use printed at the back.
The package consists of an instructions manual and a black satin bag to carry the cup.
The cup itself is made of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), shaped like a bell and is flexible Some brands offer coloured varieties as well. White works well for me.
The cup comes in three sizes – Large, Medium and Small. I had ordered the L size since on the site it advised L for women over thirty and for those who have delivered babies vaginally. It is couple inches in length and once inserted properly should not be felt at all. which means you should not be able to feel anything different if it is inserted properly. Inserting and removing the cup is the only thing that needs a little practice but don’t worry you’ll get the hang of it pretty soon.
How to use the cup?
The cup is first folded at the seam and then inserted into the vagina. It unfolds on its own and creates a light seal. Sometimes when I feel it has not unfolded properly I have to twist the cup around till it opens. If you are used to the tampon then the insertion should be easy otherwise relax and have a go at it. You will eventually get it.
To remove the cup, just pinch the base (not the stem) to release suction and remove carefully. It is best done over the toilet seat to avoid spills and for easy drainage. Once emptied, the cup can be rinsed and reinserted or washed with normal soap and water and sterilised in boiling water for a few minutes before storage.
The cup once inserted should sustain you for a period of 5-10 hours depending upon your flow. You will understand your cycle after a few uses. I have linked the websites of three most popular cups at the end. Do check the videos on how to insert and remove. I am linking Precious Stars Pads. It has various videos clarifying doubts regarding menstruation and menstrual cups including comparisons between various methods and even on how to insert/remove and how to rectify problems of leakage and Bree explains things nicely.
The first time I used the cup, the stem felt a little large on me and kept rubbing and creating irritation so I cut half a centimetre of the stem and now it sits fine.
What I like about the cup?
- Zero waste. There is actually no wastage. No used pads/tampons to throw and no worry of disposal methods like finding paper to wrap and no more looking for dustbins. This, for me, is the best feature of the cup specially while travelling. All you need is access to a toilet with water/toilet paper and you are set.
- Comfort. The cup is super comfortable if inserted correctly. A good night’s sleep without worry, no wetness, no chafing.
- No leaks/ stains. Initially, like me, you might be hesitant regarding spotting and leaks. I wore a pad in addition to the cup for the first two cycles. But once you get the hang of proper insertion you will learn to trust your cup.
- Economical. The cup might seem expensive when you first buy it but it is supposed to last for about 10 years. Imagine the number of tampons/ pads 10 years of menstruation uses and replace all of that with one single cup.
- Flexibility of use. Since the cup is worn internally it can used while swimming and while doing all other sort of physical activities like running etc without worrying about anything.
- No Odour. No smells.
Things that I don’t like?
- Insertion and removal needs practice. Also due to the fact that it is inserted vaginally people in India and other conservative countries might frown upon the usage but it does not rupture the hymen so no worries there.
- It can get messy. Expect your fingers to be covered in blood during insertion and removal. There are chances of spills while removal so it is best done over a toilet to avoid splashing the blood over other stuff.
- On days of minimal flow insertion might seem rough since the vaginal walls are not lubricated enough.
All in all I really like the cup and plan to use it every cycle. It is really environment friendly and is simply much more convenient to use and comfortable compared to sanitary napkins/pads/tampons/cloth etc. I love it and recommend it to everyone willing to take a chance.
Leave your views on the cup in the comments below or feel free to ask any question about anything I might have forgotten to mention here. Have a happy period. ;0
PS – I have since then ordered the She Cup as well and I find it to be much more comfortable than the Silky Cup. This one opens up faster than the Silky cup and feels better to me. So now I use both. My list of 3 go-to cups based on my experience and feedback received from many friends, colleagues and women in general, but my no means exhaustive, is – She Cup, Diva Cup, Rustic Art Cup. Go check their websites for any queries and get your cup. Happy Cupping.