Menstrual cups also known as period cups are becoming increasingly popular among the menstrual hygiene options available. A menstrual cup is a reusable flexible cup-like device that is placed inside the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual flow. It is held in place by suction and is often made of latex, silicone, or thermoplastic elastomers. Here are the pros and cons of using menstrual cups.
Pros of menstrual cups
Affordable and environmentally friendly
The most commonly used menstrual hygiene products i.e., pads and tampons are single-use items. Menstrual cups are reusable. They also cut on the trash that comes from disposing of the packaging and the used product if one is using single-use menstrual hygiene products.
If you use 15-20 tampons every month, that comes to between 180 – 240 pieces every year. Period cups are designed to last long and can be used for anywhere between 5 and 10 years. How many tampons would that be?
The longevity of menstrual cups makes them an affordable, cost-effective option. In light of the impact of production, shipping, packaging, and eventual disposal of used menstrual products, period cups are the environmentally-conscious choice.
Convenient and comfortable
Menstrual cups can stay inside the body for 12 hours compared to the 4-6 hours on average for tampons because of their bigger capacity. This is 12 hours of leak-free protection.
The convenience extends to the ease with which you can just travel with it and even take part in activities like camping, hiking, and trekking without worrying about frequent changes.
A period cup is also really comfortable. If it fits well and is well placed, you feel nothing at all, unless you deal with period pain which sucks. Sorry about that.
Menstrual cups can hold more blood than other methods making them the preferred option for women who have an especially heavy flow. They also have fewer leaks.
Certain menstrual cups manufacturers share the ingredients in their products. DivaCup, one of the most well-known brands is made from 100% medical-grade silicone and is BPA-free. It has no added chemicals, plastics, or dyes which is more than can be said about other period products whose manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredients.
No odour and preserves vaginal moisture
Because with menstrual cups the fluid doesn’t get exposed to the air as it does with pads, you don’t have to worry about any embarrassing odour wafting out. The vaginal pH and bacteria also stay in place.
Tampons absorb not just the blood but also the vaginal fluid which disturbs the vagina’s delicate pH and bacterial balance. All the period cup does is collect the blood; it does not absorb anything.
Track your flow
Menstrual cups make you intimate with your menstrual blood. You will learn about your average monthly flow and be able to track any changes. This can also be helpful in diagnosing period and endocrine-related disorders.
Cons of menstrual cups
Steep learning curve
Using a menstrual cup is not the same as using a tampon. Menstrual cups can be difficult to insert. They are doubly difficult for girls who have never had intercourse. While a poorly inserted tampon or poorly placed pad will work, a period cup needs to be properly inserted to work. This justifiably causes anxiety as do the many horror stories of incorrect insertion that litter the internet.
It’s not just insertion that causes anxiety but also removal which requires practice to avoid a mess. Anxiety over insertion can also cause the muscles in the vaginal walls to tighten, making insertion and removal even more difficult and messy.
Because of the steep learning curve, the first time you use it it’s likely to feel horrible and uncomfortable not to mention messy when it’s time to remove it, but once you get the hang of it, there’s definitely no going back. The good news is individual manufacturers of menstrual cups offer detailed guides about insertion and removal and practice makes perfect.
Aside from the messiness of removal during the early learning stages, used menstrual cups with blood are considered icky and messy. For many women, that level of intimacy with their blood is a turn-off and one of the things they need to deal with before considering period cups.
You need to rinse or clean the cup before insertion and also dispose of the blood somewhere like a sink then rinse it after use, all of which can make beginners really uncomfortable.
Possible fit problems
Size matters when choosing menstrual cups. It’s important to do your research about sizes in order to get something that is the right fit for you. Period cups may also not be a good fit for a person with a condition like a dropped uterus or uterine prolapse.
May make weird sounds
Menstrual cups make sounds especially when being removed. It may be a gurgling or popping sound which can be very disconcerting when it happens in a public restroom.
While most menstrual cups are made from hypoallergenic materials like silicone, there are still a few people who are allergic to silicone for whom they may not be an option.
Regular sterilization and proper maintenance
Because menstrual cups are reusable, proper care is critical. If you neglect proper maintenance, the cup can introduce germs into your vagina the next time you use it. This can cause vaginal irritation.
After each cycle, it’s best practice to sterilize the cup using boiling water or a sterilizing solution like the ones used for baby bottle nipples. The period cup will also not last as long as it could if it’s not taken care of. This maintenance work can be annoying.
Signs your period or menstrual cramps are not normal
Health: Common Causes Of Vaginal Pain
Lifestyle And Health: Do’s And Dont’s For A Healthy Vagina
Health: Managing Period Pain
Cancer, Endometriosis, And Toxins: Just How Safe Are Tampons?
Retrograde Menstruation And Other Things You Need To Know About Periods
Wellness: Delaying Your Period – How To Do It And Potential Side Effects