The fact that you are reading this means you are at least considering switching to a menstrual cup, and that’s fantastic! I’m a huge fan. Or maybe you already took the plunge and purchased one and are nervous about using it. Don’t be! It will change your life 🙂 I switched from tampons and pads to a menstrual cup about 3 ish years ago and have never looked back. My hope is that you will do the same.
Just a heads up, I am not a medical professional. The information in this post is strictly my own opinion and advice and if you have any questions you should speak to your doctor.
So, let’s get to it!
WHY A MENSTRUAL CUP?
It totally benefits your health!
Menstrual cups are made from 100% medical grade silicone (or latex), which is so much better for you than the alternative – tampons. Tampons are made from cotton and rayon (a wool pulp), and unfortunately for us, manufacturers are not required to list all the chemicals they use, so we really don’t know what the hec we are putting into our bodies when we insert a tampon. But, most tampons on the market do contain the following:
- bleached cotton;
- dioxins, which are chemicals linked to cancer that they use in the bleaching process;
- pesticides (cotton is treated with pesticides more than any other crop!);
- GMO’s &
- Not to mention that stupid annoying string that hangs out!
Absorbency of these chemicals can cause dryness, irritation and possibly toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a potentially fatal bacterial infection. Um, no thank you!
So, because menstrual cups are made of a much safer material, you can leave them in a lot longer than tampons without any worry. You can get up to 12 hours of protection from a menstrual cup, opposed to a tampons 8 hours. And BONUS, you can feel free to insert it even before your period starts! If you are expecting your period there is zero harm in putting in your cup just incase. And zero dryness, unlike if you were to do this with tampons.
Save Your Hard Earned Money!
If you are currently using pads or tampons you are well aware of how costly they can be. It’s no fun whenever you have to make that dreaded purchase. Now, I read a bunch of different articles on the average amount of money a woman spends on feminine hygiene products every year or in her lifetime, and to be honest, I got a bunch of different answers. But it really doesn’t matter, because the point I’m about to make is that you will SAVE MONEY with the purchase of a menstrual cup! How do I know this? Because your average menstrual cup will cost you around $30-$40. And if you take proper care of it (I will get into that later), it can last you for years!
Do Some Good For Mother Earth
It is said that one woman will produce about 1000 pounds of waste in her lifetime from tampons, applicators and pads. And it all ends up in landfills and sewer systems! That is sooooooo much waste! 1 menstrual cup will last you roughly the equivalent of using 3000 tampons. Think of the impact in waste reduction that just you alone can have!
WHICH CUP TO USE?
Unfortunately, I don’t have much information when it comes to all of the different brands of menstrual cups, simply because the first one I ever tried was the Diva Cup and I loved it so much I never thought to try another one!
That being said, there are many brands on the market to choose from; Diva Cup, Luna, MeLuna, Femmycycle, JuJu Cup, Lena, Lunette, Yuuki, Keeper, Keeper Moon, Moon Cup, Lily Cup, Lady Cup, Sckoon Cup, Eva Cup, Femme Cup, Fleur Cup, Organi Cup, Ruby Cup, She Cup & Super Jennie.
The trick is to not get overwhelmed by the choices, because at the end of the day they are all very similar! The main choice you want to make with whatever brand you choose is the size. You will notice that some of the brands have more than one size depending on if you have had a baby. I personally started using the Diva Cup 1 a few years ago (Model 1 is 1/8″ (~0.3 cm) smaller – not a huge difference). After the birth of my son I was worried I would need the larger size, so even though my Diva Cup 1 was still in great condition I picked up the Diva Cup 2. I have since been using it and to be totally honest I think I could have continued using the Diva Cup 1. Every body is unique and different so try to go with your instincts. (But it doesn’t hurt to go up to the bigger size after having had a baby just incase to prevent leaks).
At the end of the day ANY cup is a better choice than no cup 🙂
DIVA CUP 1 & 2
What Is Included
- The Diva Cup
- A breathable bag for storage
- The user guide for how it works
How It Works
If you want to see a copy of the full user guide you can get a pdf version of it here!
Step 1: FOLD
You can see in the images below that there are two ways to fold the cup. The “U” fold, and the “Push Down” fold. I personally prefer the push down fold. You make a point with the cup and I find that slightly easier than the U fold.
Step 2: HOLD
Hold the cup firmly and with the stem toward your palm.
Step 3: Insert
You want to make sure you insert the cup on more of a horizontal angle and to avoid pushing it up too high. This may cause leaks. The stem should be inserted completely and not hanging out, but not more than about 1/2 an inch up.
Step 4: Seal & Rotate
As you are inserting the cup, with your grip still on the base of the cup, you want to rotate it completely so it opens up. You will usually feel and hear a bit of a pop as it suctions into place. There have been a few times where I didn’t hear the pop so I kind of shimmied around a bit after inserting and it fell into place.
Step 5: Removal
When you are ready to remove the cup, first pull on the stem until you can grip the base, and then grip the base to pull it out the rest of the way. Sometimes you may find you have to use your muscles to push down a bit to help guide it down. Then you want to dump the contents into the toilet and rinse it out (making sure to clear out the holes on the sides before you re insert it).
As I write this I realize it can seem like such a pain to have to worry about all of these things but trust me when I say it will become second nature and seem like the easiest thing in the world before you know it!
MENTALLY PREPARING FOR THE SWITCH
It will be messy
It takes some getting use to. Don’t kid yourself. You most likely won’t get the hang of it right away. You may notice a time or two when you pull out your cup and it slips or pops open and blood splatters a bit. It will happen now and then, especially at the beginning. Don’t let it prevent you from sticking it out! Before you know it you will be putting it in and taking it out like it’s second nature.
On that note, I usually recommend not using it in a public bathroom until you get the hang of it. Try and practice in the comfort of your own home at first. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it while you’re out! It’s just easier and more comforting once you have gotten the hang of it.
You will find that you prefer to rinse out the cup before re-inserting it, and that’s not always doable when in a public bathroom. I mean, you could totally go to the sink and rinse it out (we shouldn’t be ashamed to do that!), but most people won’t, and that’s totally fair. So instead, what I have gotten use to doing in public, is taking it out, dumping it in the toilet, and putting it back in. I simply clean it later at home when I get a chance. There is no harm in that! Ya, it’s a bit icky, which leads me to my next point.
The ‘ick’ factor
You will get blood on your hands, in the literal sense! One thing you have to be okay with if you are going to make the switch to a menstrual cup is being comfortable with your own body. With a tampon or pad there is little to no interaction with your vagina. With a menstrual cup you have to get all up in there. I actually think it’s a positive thing! We shouldn’t be afraid of our own bodies.
What I found helped a lot, and what I suggest doing, is to practice using it before you get your period. You can always use water on the rim to help insert it more easily if you’re worried about dryness (see tip below). Practice a few different ways of inserting it to see what is most comfortable for you. Leave it in for a bit and then practice taking it out. Once you feel confident in how to use it then give it a go when you get your next period!
TIPS & HACKS
Cold then hot water for cleaning
I noticed with my first cup that it started to stain very quickly. What I find works best to prevent staining is to rinse the cup out at the end of your cycle in cold water FIRST and then continue to clean with hot/boiling water.
You will really start to notice how these exercises help in inserting and removing the cup. Trust me, start doing them! They especially help first thing in the morning when you have been wearing the cup all night and it seems like it has disappeared forever! It hasn’t! lol you just have to push down a bit sometimes to get it lower.
Panty liner at night
I no longer do this because in all the time I have used a menstrual cup I have never leaked at night. BUT when you are starting out and keeping it in all night this is a good tip JUST incase it shifts while you sleep and you leak a bit over night.
Sunlight to restore colour
I haven’t tried this yet myself, but someone told me this worked wonders for them. If you find over time that it has gotten a bit stained, try letting it sit in the sun for a couple of hours.
Water for the rim
THIS is my go to hack for help inserting the cup. If you are having difficulty, take a tiny bit of water and rub it around the rim before inserting. It makes it a hec of a lot easier, especially if you are putting it in before your expected period!
CLEANING & STORING
One of the best things about a menstrual cup is that it can last for years! No more trips to the store to pick up pads or tampons. YAY! But, if you want it to last a long time you will want to make sure you take proper care of it. And it really isn’t hard at all.
During your cycle the most cleaning you will do is to rinse it out when you empty it out to reinsert it. All you want to make sure of here is that you clean out the little holes on the side. They are super tiny and hard to see but they sometimes get clogged. They are important for suction purposes so when you do take it out and pour out the blood make sure those holes are clear! You can stretch them out a bit a run water through it to push out anything that’s clogging them.
At the END of your cycle you can do a few things before storing it for the next month.
- A vinegar rinse. I use a ratio of 9:1 water to vinegar and let it sit for 10 minutes or so.
- Next, bring some water to a rolling boil and let sit for 2 minutes. Then you can set it aside to sit in the boiling water for up to another 20 minutes if you want.
- If there is an residue left in the holes I mentioned earlier, you can get a toothbrush and brush out the holes. (I’m sure I don’t have to clarify that it should be a completely separate tooth brush from your normal one!)
- Finally, once is is completely dry you can store it in the little bag it comes with until next month!
Which cup should I try?
As mentioned above, there are sooooo many brands to choose from. I personally love the Diva Cup, but it’s the only one I’ve ever used so I can’t compare it to anything! They are all very similar so I wouldn’t get too caught up in which one to choose. Focus more on the size than the brand!
Is it difficult to use?
Hec no! It can seem intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it you will wonder why you didn’t switch over sooner.
Is it painful?
It shouldn’t be. If for whatever reason you feel pain when it is inserted it was probably done incorrectly. You shouldn’t feel a thing once it is in place.
How do you remove it?
Most menstrual cups have a little stem at the end that you can grab onto to start to pull it out. Doing that while pushing down makes it super easy to remove. Some find it helpful to grab the base of the cup once they can reach it and pull the rest of it out that way. Whatever way works best for you!
Will it leak?
Rarely. I think mine has leaked twice in all the time I have used it, and both times it was because I didn’t insert it properly. Sometimes the cup doesn’t pop open when you insert it, and that can cause a leak. If you make sure it opens up properly it will create a suction and you should be good to go.
Can I use it with a heavy flo?
Absolutely! Having a heavy flo might simply mean having to dump out the cup more frequently than someone with a light to medium flo. You will be surprised though at how much you actually bleed during a cycle and how much the cup can hold. You may find that you think it is full only to remove it and find it half full.
Where to get it?
I got mine at a local health food store, but they are fairly common now and you can probably pick one up almost anywhere feminine hygiene products are sold! I’ve seen the Diva Cup at Walmart very recently. Online is also a great place to purchase one 🙂
How much does it cost?
They average $30-$40.
What comes with it?
The Diva Cup comes with the cup itself and a little bag to store it in. I believe most come with a similar storage bag. P.S. how awesome is it to only have to carry ONE little cup with you in your purse and not a bunch of pads and tampons?!
How often to clean it?
See the cleaning/storing section above!
I tried my very best to cover everything I thought would help you in switching over to a menstrual cup. If there is anything I didn’t mention that you would like to know, or if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments! I’m an open book so don’t be shy!