It’s ‘Environmenstrual’ Week this week, so I thought I’d write a post telling you everything that you ever wanted to know about menstrual cups. And possibly a few things that you didn’t want to know, but you’ll be pleased that you do!
A menstrual cup is a reusable period product. It’s a foldable cup, usually made from medical grade silicone, which collects menstrual blood, rather than absorbing it like tampons, pads or period pants.
A menstrual cup works by being inserted inside the vagina. It forms a seal to prevent leaks, and collects the blood inside. Rather than ‘changing’ it like a tampon, a cup is simply removed and emptied, cleaned, then reinserted.
The video below is an excellent demonstration of where the menstrual cup sits inside the body.
When my menstrual cup first arrived I remember thinking that it was enormous and there was no way it would fit (I may have two children but they were both delivered via caesarean)!
The first time I used my menstrual cup, it took a bit of trial and error with different folds to figure out which worked best for me. I prefer the punch-down fold, although the c-fold seems to be the most popular. The video below demonstrates both of these folds, as well as nine other that you might like to try.
As for removing the cup, it’s helpful to kind of bear down to use your muscles to push it down. You can then pinch it between thumb and forefinger to release the seal and remove. It sounds impossible but once you’ve got the knack, it’s easy.
This all depends on the capacity of your cup and how heavy your flow is. For me, I can leave my cup in for twelve hours (the maximum recommended time between emptying) on most days of my period, but need to empty it every three-four hours on my heaviest days.
Hygiene is of utmost importance, so you must sterilise your cup before the first use of each period. Personally, my preferred method is to boil my cup in a pan of water for 5 minutes.
When emptying my cup, I empty the contents into the toilet then rinse the cup under the tap. I’ll often give it a clean using a menstrual cup wash, although this isn’t essential.
Obviously we’re all different, so the best menstrual cup for me, might not be the best menstrual cup for you.
I chose my cup by answering the Put a Cup In It Quiz. I was fortunate that my first cup has turned out to work well for me, but some people find that they need to try a few cups before they find the right one.
This is all down to personal preference. Personally, I find using a menstrual cup to be far more comfortable than using tampons or pads. Menstrual cups and other reusable period products are also better for the environment than disposable ones, as they reduce waste so dramatically. My Lunette cup can even be burned to ashes at the end of its useful life, making it truly zero waste.
Once you’ve found the right one for you, yes. Now that I’ve trimmed the stem on my cup, I can wear it all day long and forget that I’m wearing it. This is by far the biggest plus point for me, although I am a big fan of the environmental benefits, too!
Yes, it can, as long as it’s emptied and cleaned every 12 hours.
Personally, I prefer to wear my menstrual cup during the day, and period pants at nighttime, although this is personal preference.
I guess this depends on how clumsy you are when you remove it! But generally, I don’t find emptying and cleaning my cup any more messy than changing a tampon or pad.
The great thing about a menstrual cup is that you can empty it just before you go out, and have hours of use where you don’t need to empty it again (unless you have particularly heavy flow). However, on the rare occasions where I have had to empty it in a toilet without a sink nearby, I’ve used a menstrual cup wipe. I know wipes aren’t ideal environmentally, but I think I’ve used approximately three wipes in the eight months that I’ve been using a cup, so I’m happy with that compromise.
I bought my Lunette cup from Amazon, but Boots and Sainsbury’s have started to stock menstrual cups in store now. I’ve even noticed that Tesco have a menstrual cup available for home delivery on their groceries app, too. So you can pick up a cup with your weekly shop…