In Defence Of The Menstrual Cup

When it comes to the menstrual cup, it’s a bit like marmite. Some girls love them, some girls hate them.

And we’ve all got our favourites – pads or tampons, pantyliners and contraceptive pills – take your pick. Why is it that the menstrual cup always seems to be the controversial one? Being wider than tampons and having to put them up there a little awkwardly seems to scare many women away. We’re here in defence of the menstrual cup and to show you that once you get used to them, you’ll never go back.

What is the menstrual cup?
Even though they’ve jumped onto the scene as an eco-friendly reusable alternative, these cups were invented back in 1867. Today, the global market has been estimated at $46 million and is expected to grow up to almost $1.5 billion by 2023.

These female hygiene products are in a funnel shape and are typically made out of rubber. Once inserted into the vagina, it collects period fluid in the cup. It’s reported that these cups can hold up to 5x the amount of a tampon and can be worn up to 12 hours, whereas a tampon should be taken out after 6-8.

Generally speaking, the common menstrual cup is a vaginal cup, which sits just below the cervix. Although, there are also cervical cups available which are inserted into the cervix, almost like a diaphragm for contraception.

Menstrual cup brands can be found everywhere, online and in stores. From the Moon Cup to the Keeper Cup and the Lena Cup, they traditionally come in two sizes – one for pre-childbirth and one for post-childbirth – so there’s one for everyone.

So, why are they so scary?
Some women are happy with their usual products, but the truth is, menstrual cups are not as scary as people think they are. Whether it’s worries about getting it lost up there or fears about cleaning the cup out, we have all the answers to debunk the myths on menstrual cups.

Do I have to stick my fingers up there?
It’s true, with the menstrual cup you do have to get a bit more in touch with your, ahem, lady bits. Once you get past the insertion, which includes folding up the menstrual cup, all you need to do to get it out is to pinch the bottom of the cup.

Although it’s slightly more invasive than a tampon, you won’t have to get too involved once you work out which way works for you.

Will it get stuck?
No, there’s no way a cup could get stuck up there. The rim of the cup sits just below the cervix and wouldn’t be able to go any further up because the cervix isn’t big enough. If the cup rides up slightly, you’ll be able to pull it out with your fingers.

There’s even been a development of menstrual cup applicators, like the Enna Cycle cup, which helps you insert it if you’re feeling nervous.

What about Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Where its materials are traditionally made out of plastic, the chances of the infamous Toxic Shock Syndrome are far lesser than that of a tampon. Whereas tampons soak up period fluid, the cup catches any in its funnel rather than absorbing, so there’s a low risk of bacteria.

There is a low risk of TSS if you use menstrual cups safely but there are also few official science reports that have researched this issue. So, always make to be as safe as possible, washing your hands before insertion just as you would a tampon.

How do you clean it out?
Many menstrual cup brands suggest cleaning the menstrual cup with warm water and soap between uses. When your cycle comes to an end you should soak the cup in boiling water for 5-7 minutes to give it a deeper clean.

Don’t worry if you’re in a public toilet and don’t have access to the sinks. We know it can feel slightly awkward washing it out in front of everyone, so you can just empty the cup into the toilet and wipe down with a tissue and you’ll be good to go.

Menstrual cups can also be kept in for twelve hours, almost double a tampon. With this in mind, you can often go the whole day without having to change it.

But I don’t want to have to pay out for a cup?
Menstrual cups on average cost between £10-30. The investment at first may be slightly more than you’d usually pay, but you’re only buying one or two cups, and these will last you up to 10 years.

The DivaCup website recommends checking for any deterioration and changing your cup every year. As well as this, the ethical waste produced by tampons and pads is extortionate. The average woman uses 11,000 disposable sanitary items in a lifetime. When you change that out for one reusable item, the environmental cost is far better.

What if my cup leaks?
We’ve all been there, it happens. It may take time getting used to the menstrual cup because it sits slightly different than a tampon, it’s much lower.

To avoid any leaks, you’ll have to get familiar with where your cervix sits inside your vagina. If your cup is leaking, then chances are you’ve got the cup too close to your cervix – maybe even on it. Once you’ve had a feel of yourself and get used to where is best for you, it’s likely the leaks will stop. It’s reported that the menstrual cups are just as leakproof as tampons or pads, where a study found that they were just as effective and according to the NHS, 73% of women said they’d use a cup again.