Making the Switch: The Truth About Menstrual Cups

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I have been using a menstrual cup for the better part of 5 years and LOVE it. For the longest time, I wanted to shout from the rooftops how much I love this thing but I haven’t.  Embarrassment silenced my new discovery.  Why the embarrassment surrounding something our bodies were designed to do? I’m not sure. It feels conspiratorial in nature which has me fighting back, via blog post. 

So as a dedicated user, I’m here to answer some of your burning questions.

Menstrual Cup Basics 

Ok. So, if you google “menstrual cups” you will come up with a lot of results. I personally have used 3 brands. While there are slight differences in comfort, they are essentially the same. 

How does it work? The cup is made of soft silicone that you bend and insert into your vagina.  Once inserted, the cup expands against the vaginal walls, which forms a seal. The seal enables the cup to catch the blood without leaking.  

How much does it hold/ how often do you have to empty the cup? The one I use holds 30ml.  In comparison, a regular-sized tampon only holds 5mls. A super-plus tampon holds approximately 10mls.  The average woman loses between 10 and 35mls of blood per cycle. Most women empty every 8-12 hours. I have been diagnosed with menorrhagia (heavy flow) so on the first day, I empty every 2-4 hours. 

Is it messy? I’m not going to lie to you, using a menstrual cup is definitely messier than using a tampon. But, there are ways to minimize the mess in public. I carry foodservice gloves in my purse to wear during a change. This way I get nothing on my hands, and I can dispose of them right in the bathroom stall. Honestly though, the cups hold so much that I rarely have to empty in a public bathroom.

Can I empty it at work? I can’t speak to this personally, but women on the forums (and there are a LOT of forums) say they usually only empty once each day, if at all. Because most women leave the cup in for 12 hours, a change right before work is sufficient for most. 

How often do you have to buy a new one? It’s recommended you replace your cup every year, but if you take good care of it you can make it last for much longer.

Does it hurt/fall out/get stuck? In my experience, no. If you are having any of those issues you may have a sizing issue or need to work on inserting and getting a good seal. When it is full, you can feel the cup fall lower because of the weight of the liquid, but it doesn’t hurt. 

There is definitely a learning curve! If you decide to try it out, give it at least 6-8 months of use before you decide if you like it or not. In that time you will get the hang of inserting it and get accustomed to how your body really likes it. You may see the side effects of menstruation lessen as well. For example, I hardly have cramps at all anymore, and my periods are much lighter than they were when I first switched. 

Other Reasons to Switch to the Menstrual Cup

Menstrual cups are good for the environment. According to The Journal of Clinical Microbiology, an average woman uses 11-14 tampons per cycle. That amounts to up to 14,000 tampons in a lifetime. Now take in to account the packaging and waste associated with that many products. Using a cup is a no-brainer for friends of the environment.

They’re good for your budget. Most menstrual cups cost $30-$40. Compared to what you spend a year on tampons and pads, it’s a steal.

You’ll get to know your cycle more accurately. Being able to measure your blood loss down to the ml is really helpful, as well as the ability to observe clots and other concerns.  We should know these things! 

 

Do you use a menstrual cup? What is keeping you from making the switch? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Jessica Johnson
Jess and her husband live in Providence with their 4 kids. Jess stays at home full-time with her tiny humans and is figuring out how to manage her home, manage her homeschool, and manage her own sanity. She is mostly convinced that 2 out of 3 is the best she can do! After the kids go to bed, Jess enjoys ice cream and Netflix. Or ice cream and a good book. Or just ice cream in a dark quiet room. Being a mom is a wild and unpredictable ride. While Jess has figured out that she cannot juggle it all, she can try to find joy in the small moments as her own family grows and evolves. Her life, (like her house) can be a mess sometimes, but Jess hopes her readers find encouragement in knowing they aren't alone in the challenges and triumphs of motherhood.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve used one for two months… definitely a learning curve and I spent lots of days wearing pantyliners with it while I adjust. While I do leak occasionally (still working on perfect placement), it’s much less than my day-one with tampons, when I’m leaking through supers in 2 hours. My bathroom setup is pretty inconvenient, though, because my sink is not close to the toilet – so while still learning how full it is, it’s difficult deciding if I should dump it or wait it out, and waddling through the bathroom to clean it 😂😂

    I LOVE the idea of gloves – hadn’t considered that!! Can you comment on cleaning/sanitizing? I had no issue boiling it the first time but I’m about to go buy it it’s own pot – I tried boiled water in a cheap dollar store mug but I’m not sure if I should be actively boiling it over the stove 🤷🏻‍♀️

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