All You Need to Know About Menstrual Cups
Dr Ankita Gharge

Dr Ankita Gharge

Sep 07Menstrual health

All You Need to Know About Menstrual Cups

This article has been compiled by Vaibhavi Kodnani, a content writer at Proactive For Her.

Planning to shift to a menstrual cup but have many queries? We have answered them all in this article - what a menstrual cup is, how to use it, the pros and cons and answers to some crucial FAQs!

What is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is one of the reusable menstrual hygiene products. It is a soft cup made up of medical-grade silicone or rubber. You insert it into your vagina to collect the menstrual blood and empty it from time to time. A menstrual cup can be used for up to 5-10 years, making it a preferred choice of many menstruators due to its various benefits for oneself and the environment.

Read on to learn in-depth about choosing a cup for yourself, how to use and maintain it, and some FAQs!

How to choose the right menstrual cup?

Menstrual cups are available online and at chemists in different sizes. Most commonly, they are divided into three sizes-small, medium and large. The various criteria for deciding the right size for yourself include:

  • Your age
  • Your menstrual flow
  • Length of your cervix
  • If you’ve given birth vaginally

An easy way to determine your cup size is to measure the length of your cervix when you’re on your period. Follow the below steps:

  • When you are on your period, insert a clean finger into the vagina and try reaching your cervix. The cervix is firm and feels like the tip of your nose.
  • Once you locate the cervix, observe how deep your finger is inside and mark that point with your thumb.
  • Then remove your finger and measure that distance in centimetres using a ruler.
  • You can choose a menstrual cup that is of a similar size.

The other criteria for choosing a cup include:

  • Small: It is suitable for young menstruators who are not sexually active.
  • Medium: It is recommended for those who are sexually active.
  • Large: Menstruators who have given birth vaginally can choose a large cup.

menstrual cup

How to insert the menstrual cup?

If you are using a cup for the first time, it may be uncomfortable. But once you learn how to insert and remove it, it will be a smooth process.

Before inserting the menstrual cup

  • Disinfect the cup: You need to disinfect the menstrual cup before every menstrual cycle. For that, wash it thoroughly with soap and water. You can even dissolve a formalin tablet in water and dip your menstrual cup in that mixture for 5 minutes before insertion.
  • Scan the cup: Check if the cup is intact and devoid of leakages.
  • Clean your hands: Make sure to wash your hands properly before inserting the cup into your vagina.
  • Relax: Take deep breaths if you are feeling anxious about inserting it. If you are not relaxed, your vaginal muscles can contract and make the insertion process difficult and painful.

While inserting the menstrual cup

  • Position yourself: You need to figure out a suitable position for yourself. Some common, comfortable positions are squatting or standing with one leg on the toilet seat.
  • Fold the cup: There are many ways to fold a menstrual cup. With a trial and error method, you can figure out which fold works for your body. The many types of folds are C fold, punch down fold, S fold, 7-shaped fold.
  • Insert it: The vagina is not a straight canal, so you will have to learn the direction of the vagina. Then, fold your cup and slowly insert it at a 45-degree angle in the vagina. Do not thrust it forcefully, or you will hurt yourself.
  • Ensure it is airtight: Once the cup is completely inside the vagina, make sure it is open. For that, you can either rotate the cup or insert a finger and gently push the wall of the cup to pop it open. It will create an airtight suction that will prevent all leakages. You can tug the cup to ensure that it is fixed in place.

Removing the menstrual cup

  • Clean your hands: Wash your hands with soap and water before removing the menstrual cup.
  • Position yourself: Either squat, place one leg on the toilet seat or sit on the toilet seat to remove the cup.
  • Break the vacuum: Hold the stem and pinch the lower end of the cup to break the vacuum between the menstrual cup and the vaginal wall.
  • Pull out: Then, slowly pull out the cup to avoid spilling the blood.
  • Clean the cup: Empty the menstrual blood in the toilet and wash the cup with clean water. You can also use soap or immerse the cup for 10 minutes in a formalin solution.
  • Reinsert it: Follow the insertion steps to reinsert the cup.

How to clean the cup if you don’t have access to water?

  • Use sanitiser for your hands: Sanitize your hands using alcohol-based hand sanitisers before removing the menstrual cup.
  • Use wet wipes for the cup: Empty the menstrual cup after removing it and clean it thoroughly with wet wipes or liquid disinfectant and tissue.

When should you take out the menstrual cup?

Generally, you can empty the cup every 6-10 hours. Depending on your menstrual flow, you can determine when you should clean it. However, remember not to keep the cup inside the vagina for more than 12 hours.

How to take care of the menstrual cup after your periods are over?

  • Clean the cup: After your periods are over, you must disinfect the cup using a disinfectant.
  • Dry it: Wipe it using a clean, dry cloth.
  • Store it: Put it in an airtight container or a silk pouch until you use it next. It will prevent it from moisture.

What are the pros and cons of a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup has various advantages motivating many menstruators to shift to it.

  • It is sustainable: You can use reusable menstrual cups for many years; they produce zero waste, making them eco-friendly.
  • It prevents skin rashes: Menstrual cups do not cause any skin irritation or rashes that otherwise occur due to pads or tampons.
  • It allows you to continue various activities: You can engage in various activities like running, swimming, yoga, strength training without worrying about leakages if inserted correctly.
  • It is economical: A cup is a one-time investment for at least 3-5 years, unlike other menstrual products that require you to purchase them continuously.

There can be some cons, but you can avoid them.

  • It can cause infections: The menstrual cup can lead to vaginal infections if you do not follow the appropriate menstrual cup cleaning methods.
  • Practice needed to get used to it: Menstrual cups are easy to use, but they can be slightly inconvenient in the beginning until you get used to them.

FAQs on menstrual cups

Are menstrual cups safe?

Yes, menstrual cups are safe, non-traumatic forms of menstrual products. You can wear them for long periods without worrying about leakages or rashes.

Do menstrual cups hurt?

You are unlikely to experience menstrual cup pain if you insert it correctly using the required technique.

Can you sleep with a menstrual cup?

Menstrual cups can be used for over 10-12 hours at a stretch. Hence, you can comfortably use them while sleeping.

Can sexually inactive menstruators use a menstrual cup?

Yes, sexually inactive menstruators can use an appropriate sized menstrual cup.

Do menstrual cups work for everyone?

Usually, menstrual cups are convenient for a majority of menstruators.

But if you have any of the following conditions, it may be challenging to use the menstrual cup.

  • Prolapse
  • Loosening of vaginal walls
  • Vaginismus

If they don’t work for you, what are the alternatives?

Menstrual cups are great to use, but there are many similar eco-friendly menstrual products available in the market. They include biodegradable sanitary napkins, reusable cloth napkins, and menstrual underwear.

Conclusion

A menstrual cup is an eco-friendly, pocket-friendly, and easy-to-use, menstrual product. With so many advantages, it would be a wise choice to shift to using it. If you are apprehensive about using them due to any reason, get your gynaecologist’s opinion on menstrual cups. Do not get discouraged if the cup does not work for you even after trying it. Many other safe alternatives are equally hassle-free and eco-friendly.

Disclaimer:

This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

ProactiveForHer is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalised, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer out-patient care, diagnostic services and programs for various health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause. To know more on the sexual and reproductive health of women, visit https://www.proactiveforher.com/