What is a Menstrual Cup and how does it work?
A menstrual cup is a bell shaped reusable cup that is used during a woman’s period as an alternative to pads and/or tampons. A menstrual cup is placed inside the vaginal cavity and when fitted securely, will collect (rather than absorb) the menstrual fluid (blood). While the idea of using a menstrual cup is still gaining traction in the wider community, the first menstrual cup was actually designed and patented nearly 80 years ago (in 1935). While the use of menstrual cups is great for the environment and also an excellent financial saving, there are also many other benefits to making the switch to one. A couple of these include less odour, usage time of up to 8 hours, and convenience.
What is a Menstrual Cup made from?
Most reusable menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone, although a few are also made from TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), or rubber. While many companies now offer coloured cups, others have decided to produce only colourless cups to ensure there is no risk whatsoever of potential chemical leaching into the sensitive vaginal cavity. To add a little bit of colour and feminine prettiness to the menstrual cups, most companies provide coloured carry pouches for cup storage.
Will a Menstrual Cup fit?
Menstrual cups are quite large to look at and can seem daunting to women new to the menstrual cup idea. However, the vagina is a soft and stretchy canal which is designed to stretch larger and then return to its normal size, just as it does during childbirth and sexual intercourse. When folded, the insertion point of the cup can be very similar to the size of a tampon. Menstrual cups usually come in 2 sizes, with the smaller size often being most suited to women under 30 who have not given birth vaginally, and the larger size being for women over the age of 30 who have given birth vaginally. With their growing popularity as an alternative to disposable products, cups are now available in many different sizes and shapes. When choosing the correct size menstrual cup, you may need to also consider your level of flow, cervix height, and pelvic floor strength.
Is a Menstrual Cup suitable for me to use?
Menstrual cups are suitable for women of any age, from teenagers who are only just beginning to menstruate to older women who are going through menopause.
When you should use caution...
- Caution should be used by people who have not had penetrative sex, since wearing a menstrual cup does have the potential to stretch and tear the hymen.
- If you suffer from prolapse or other vaginal conditions, you may need to consult with your physician before using a menstrual cup.
- Menstrual cups are not designed for use immediately post birth, since the uterus and vaginal canal need time to heal after the birthing process.
- Menstrual cups cannot be used during sex. If you would like something suitable to use during period sex, then a menstrual disc is the solution!
- Since Menstrual cups are used internally, there are some situations in which medical advice should be sought prior to using one.
Using a Menstrual Cup
If you are new to menstrual cups, it is realistic to allow two to three cycles for getting used to correctly inserting and removing the cup. You may also decide to wear a liner the first few times as added protection should you experience any leaks.
To insert a menstrual cup, you will wash your hands and then fold the cup in the way that suits you best. You then need to gently insert the folded cup just inside the entrance of the vaginal canal (following the instructions included with your cup). Once inserted, the cup will pop open and is then ready to begin collecting menstrual fluid.
Each Menstrual cup is designed with a stem. When it comes time to remove the cup, wash your hands and use the stem to guide your fingers to the base of the cup (do not pull the cup out by the stem). You will then carefully pinch the base to release the suction and slowly remove the cup from the vaginal canal.
Cleaning a menstrual cup is as simple as rinsing it under cold running water between changes and then boiling it in a pot of water for 10-20 minutes to sterilise it at the end of your cycle (or according to your brands directions). It can then be safely stored in the carry pouch that is included with most cup brands. You should not store a menstrual cup in an airtight container.
As with any form of feminine hygiene product, proper hygiene and hand and cup washing procedures should be followed to reduce the risk of possible infection.
Frequently asked questions:
Learn more about menstrual cups with the FAQ’s below.
No. A menstrual cup should not cause any pain. In fact you should not be able to feel a correctly sized and inserted menstrual cup at all. If you can feel your cup or experience any pain, you may need a different style or size cup.
The recommendation by the Australian TGA is that a menstrual cup can be worn for up to 8 hours or overnight. Marketing that suggests wear times of 12 hours are for brands marketed in the USA that fall under FDA regulations.
Yes. A menstrual cup is a leak free alternative to tampons that is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid. It can be worn while swimming and during any other form of sporting activity.
There are several advantages to a menstrual cup compared to disposable pads or tampons.
- A menstrual cup can be worn for up to 8 hours before needing to be emptied.
- Cups are reusable and can last for up to 5 years. This saves you money and reduces landfill.
- Menstrual cups do not interfere with your natural vaginal flora, making them a healthy alternative for down under.
- They can reduce menstrual odour.
- No strings, wings, or leaks.
- Cups can be worn during any of your favourite activities including swimming, bike riding, gymnastics, running, and horse riding.
- Cups are convenient and portable. One cup is all you need and it is easy to take with you wherever you go!
A menstrual cup is a bell shaped cup that collects rather than absorbs menstrual fluid. When inserted correctly the rim of the cup creates a seal around the vaginal walls preventing leaks. Once full, the cup is removed, emptied, and then re-inserted.
No, a menstrual cup cannot get lost inside of you. A cup cannot go any further than the cervix and will always remain in the vaginal canal. If you have trouble reaching your cup, you may have a high cervix and a cup that is too short. Please read our removal tips for help.
Learn more about menstrual cups and discs:
Deciding which brand of menstrual cup to buy can be daunting. While many women will have success with any brand of cup, there are some instances where it may be a case of trial and error. Or, depending on cervix height and your level of menstrual flow, there may only be a couple of suitable
How to Remove a Menstrual Cup: 5 Easy Tips Removing your menstrual cup is easy! Follow these tips to get a menstrual cup out in seconds. For some women, removing the cup is a quick and easy process, while others get overwhelmed and feel like it might be stuck. The good news is that most
Menstrual Cup Sizing – which size cup do you need? This article is for anyone who is confused about which size menstrual cup to buy. While each brand of menstrual cup may differ slightly, when it comes to sizing your menstrual cup, there are five main factors to consider. 5 Menstrual Cup Sizing Tips While