Menstrual cups are small, bell-shaped menses products made of pliable materials like medical-grade silicone or rubber used to collect menstrual blood when inserted into the vagina. They are reusable and cost-effective.
There are various sizes to choose from. Some factors to consider when choosing the right cup for yourself include the capacity of the cup, your cervix’s height, heaviness of your menses flow, material and flexibility of the cup, cup size (larger cups are recommended for women who have given birth), and your budget.
Menstrual Cup Usage Guide
Below is a step-by-step guide on menstrual cup usage:
Before inserting a menstrual cup
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Before the first use and between uses, clean your menstrual cup. You can do this by boiling it in water for a few minutes or rinsing it in warm water, following the manufacturer's instructions. The cup must be clean and dry before insertion.
Inserting a menstrual cup
Find a comfortable position by standing with one leg up on the toilet seat, or sitting on the toilet, or even squatting on the floor.
Menstrual cups are designed to be folded before insertion. There are different folding techniques, such as the “C-fold”, “U-fold” or “7-fold”. Pinch the sides of the cup together and fold it in half, forming a C or U shape before inserting into your vagina.
It is essential to relax your pelvic muscles to make insertion easier. Hold the folded cup with one hand and use the other hand to open the labia. Gently insert the cup into the vagina, aiming it towards the back and slightly upward. Once inside, let the cup unfold. It is recommended that the stem's bottom should be within half an inch from your vaginal opening.
Once the cup isinserted, use your fingers to check if it has opened fully and formed a seal. Gently rotate the cup to ensure the cup is sealed properly. A slight suction sensation should be felt.
Removing a menstrual cup
First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Then, find a comfortable position. Some users find squatting comfortable, while others prefer sitting on the toilet or standing with one leg on the bathtub/toilet seat.
Relax the vaginal muscles by taking a few deep breaths. Gently squeeze/pinch the base of the cup with the thumb and forefinger to release the suction seal.
Once the seal is released, gently pull the cup out of the vagina. Make sure to keep the cup upright to avoid spilling the contents. Empty the cup's contents into the toilet or sink. Wash the cup well with mild soap and warm water before reinserting it.
Finally, always check the cup for any signs of wear and tear, such as discolouration or cracks. If the cup is damaged, replace it immediately.
Indication of a Full Menstrual Cup and Leakage
Menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours, but the cup may need to be emptied more frequently on days with a heavier flow.
Some signs that can indicate a full cup include the feeling of pressure against your vaginal walls due to the heaviness of a full cup. If you experience light leakage after a few hours of wearing the cup or the cup feels like it is slipping down, this also indicates that the menstrual cup is full.
Some people experience increased cramping or discomfort when the cup is full. It may be an indicator if you suddenly feel more pressure or discomfort.
Menstrual fluid leakage whilst using cups is reported to be lower or similar to pads and tampons. If the cup is not inserted correctly, it may not create a seal and may leak. Therefore, ensuring that the cup is inserted fully, and the rim correctly positioned is crucial. Insufficient lubrication during insertion can cause friction and discomfort, potentially affecting the cup's position. Use water-based lubricants before insertion if needed.
Using a cup that is too small or too large may not fit correctly and leak. So, choose a cup that is the right size for your body. If the cup becomes too full, it may leak. It is recommended to empty the cup regularly, especially on heavier days to help prevent leaks.
Rigorous activities like running or jumping can cause the cup to shift and leak. Ensure that the cup is positioned correctly before engaging in physical activity.
Advantages of Menstrual Cups
Menstrual cups offer several benefits as compared to traditional sanitary pads.
Menstrual cups are reusable and can last several years with proper care, making them a cost-effective option compared to disposable alternatives.They reduce the environmental impact associated with disposable pads and tampons, as they decrease the amount of waste generated.
Many users find menstrual cups comfortable and barely noticeable once properly inserted. They are discreet and do not cause the same bulkiness as pads.Depending on the flow, menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours, unlike disposable products that need to be changed at least every 6 hours to prevent foul odours and maintain hygiene.
Menstrual cups can be worn during various physical activities, including swimming, exercising, and sleeping, providing versatile and reliable menstrual protection.
It is important to note that individual experiences may vary, and there can be a learning curve when transitioning to menstrual cups. However, many people find that the benefits outweigh the initial adjustment period.
Disadvantages of Menstrual Cups
While menstrual cups offer numerous advantages, they may not be suitable for everyone. It may take some practice to learn how to use a menstrual cup comfortably. Finding the right fit and positioning for your body requires trial and error.
Emptying and cleaning the cup in public restrooms might be inconvenient, as it requires washing the cup between uses. Some users may feel uncomfortable with this process. Removing the cup can be messy, especially for beginners. It requires careful technique to avoid spills; some users may find this aspect challenging.
Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as a tilted uterus or vaginismus, may find using a menstrual cup more challenging. It is advisable to consult a doctor if there are concerns about compatibility.
While rare, some individuals may be allergic to the materials used in certain menstrual cups, particularly those made of silicone. It is important to be aware of potential allergies and choose a cup made from hypoallergenic materials.
Make an Appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals
We hope this guide has helped you understand the ins and outs of menstrual cup usage. If you are considering switching to a menstrual cup, consult a doctor to guide you.
Get in touch with us to book an appointment today to consult with our Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialists, or find out more about our Obstetrics and Gynaecology Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.