WTF Is a Menstrual Cup, and Should You Be Using One?
The world of period products seems endless these days — from eco-friendly period supplies to leak-free, period-proof panties to an ibuprofen patch that could help with cramps, there are constantly new and awesome ways to make that time of the month a bit more bearable. But some of these new things can be straight up confusing. Like menstrual cups: We have so many questions! Thankfully, the lead scientist at Clue, a period tracking app, is helping us out.
What Is a Menstrual Cup?
“Menstrual cups are small, flexible cups that you insert into your vagina during menstruation. Unlike tampons and pads, cups collect your menstrual blood, rather than absorbing it,” Clue tells us. “Menstrual cups may not be right for everyone, but they are definitely worth a try — the majority of people who try them for at least three cycles say they prefer a cup to both tampons and pads.” Okay, but why exactly would someone choose to wear a menstrual cup over a tampon or pad? Clue tells us there are three main reasons.
Reasons to Consider a Menstrual Cup
1. There can be major health benefits. If you’re a tampon devotee, this info might make you reconsider. “Unlike tampons, menstrual cups keep all your other healthy vaginal fluids right where they should be: in your vagina. Tampons absorb anything they can get their cotton-y fibers on. This includes healthy bacteria, hydration and lubrication.” While that might not sound so bad, Clue tells us, “Tampons also cause friction in the vagina, especially when they are too absorbent for the amount of blood flow. This can cause little tears in the delicate vaginal wall. Menstrual cups have almost no history of causing toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare, but dangerous, buildup of certain bacteria in the vagina mainly associated with high-absorbency tampons.”
2. It might be more convenient. Think about how often you need to change your tampon — most reccomendations say you should use them for no longer than eight hours. In contrast, Clue says, “Most menstrual cups can stay in for up to 12 hours before being emptied and rinsed… That being said, you may need to empty a cup more often if your flow is at its heaviest, but you can use the same cup for your heaviest and lightest days. You are actually likely to have fewer leaks with a properly inserted menstrual cup than with tampons or pads. That means fewer uncomfortable moments searching for a bathroom.” We can definitely get on board with that.
3. It’s definitely cheaper and more eco-friendly. Think about how many tampons you use per period, and then think about all the packaging that goes into each box. Switching to a single cup could save you major dough and cut down on waste.
Of course, there are some downsides, but they’re easy to overcome. Clue tells us, “Menstrual cups are easy to insert and remove, once you get the hang of them. Even so, adjusting to a cup can take time and be inconvenient. It takes about three cycles to get a realistic idea of how they fit with your body and life.”
If you’re ready to switch, their top tip is to be patient. They shared, “Don’t expect to make the switch flawlessly or all at once. It can be a bit tricky to get the hang of removing a full cup at first. The first few times you do it can be messy. These are all normal bumps in the road on the way to becoming a dedicated cup-lover. Try wearing your cup around the house at first, and balancing with tampons or pads until you feel confident.”
Bottom line: Worth a try!
Do you use menstrual cups? Tweet us your thoughts at @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)