As women, it’s safe to say there’s one thing we can all agree on: How annoying your period is! Whether it is painful, heavy, or simply unpredictable, periods are never convenient and always a hassle. If you’re one of the lucky ones who has light, easy periods, a) congratulations, and b) you probably still hate having to buy pads and tampons.
Thanks to modern-day menstruation innovation however, there is a new feminine hygiene product on the market with the primary goal of making your period less annoying and less expensive: The menstrual cup!
One Woman’s Experience Using a Menstrual Cup
Ileana Paules-Bronet of LittleThings.com decided to forgo pads and tampons and tried using a menstrual cup for her period, and overall, had a good experience!
For those who don’t know, a menstrual cup is a flexible cup, usually made of rubber or silicone, that is placed inside the vagina. It collects the blood from your period, which you then empty into the toilet, rinse out, and re-insert.
Ileana was intrigued by menstrual cups after reading about the purported benefits of them online, making the final decision to give them a shot. She had many questions before using one:
Will I be able to feel it, or will it be uncomfortable?
Will I be able to feel it while pooping?
Will it smell?
Is it difficult to insert and remove?
Can you leave it in during sex?
Will it work better than tampons and pads (aka will it leak at all?)
We have the same questions (and we’re sure you do, too!), so thankfully Ileana has answered them for us!
Menstrual Cup Brands
For her experiment, Ileana used the Diva Cup, one of the most common and popular brands. Other options include:
Why Should You Consider Using a Diva Cup?
According to Ileana, once you get over the initial learning curve, menstrual cups are game-changers in the world of menstruation. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons:
Benefits of Menstrual Cups
Reusable: You only have to replace a diva cup once a year. This makes them more cost effective and they produce far less waste than pads and tampons.
Odor stays inside, unlike pads
They can be safely worn for 12 hours at a time: Each cup holds one ounce of blood, so you’ll typically only have to empty it once or twice a day. Ileana emptied hers in the morning and evening, so never even had to in a public bathroom. The best part? Being able to wear it overnight! No more massive nighttime pads or stained bed sheets!
Less worry: Diva Cups are far less likely to leak than pads or tampons.
Usable even on light days: Menstrual cups are not only for when your period is at its heaviest, but also for the end when flow is light, making tampon use difficult and awkward.
Drawbacks of Menstrual Cups
Messier: There’s no way around that! Ileana notes that the removal process is slightly gross, but not as bad as she thought it would be. She also mentions that you get used to it and better at removing it very quickly.
Learning Curve: There’s a trick to inserting, removing, and cleaning them, though Ileana mentions that you catch on quite quickly.
Depending on your anatomy and your vagina, some women may experience discomfort. Ileana explains that she was mildly uncomfortable for the first five minutes, then she couldn’t feel it at all.
May interfere with an IUD, so make sure you speak with your gynecologist before using one.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is still possible: Though even less probable than tampons, if left in too long (i.e. longer than the 12 hour limit) or not used properly TSS can occur.
How to Use a Menstrual Cup
Every menstrual cup comes with its own information and instruction pamphlet, but we’ll outline the basic how-to and diva cup care rules to help you decided whether or not you’d like to give them a try.
Step 1: Wash Your New Diva Cup
Diva Cup (and many of the other brands) sell special Diva Cup Cleansing Soaps , however, Ileana opted for a gentle, unscented natural, water-based soap and warm water, which works just as well and is probably cheaper. Dry out your washed cup and you’re ready to go!
Step 2: Insert
There are two ways to insert a diva cup, it’s up to you as to which you find works best for you:
Fold the cup in half, then in half again so that it looks like a “U”.
Press down one side to make it smaller and more easy to insert.
Once ready, hold the cup in one hand, spread your labia apart with the other, and insert the cup into your vagina. Once inside, twist the cup slightly until you feel it open. The instructions mention that it may feel like a suction cup, but Ileana said she never got this sensation.
Step 3: Emptying
For her first time emptying the cup, Ileana did hers in the shower. After that, however, she switched to removing it while sitting on the toilet and rinsed it out in the sink. Her best tip for easy removal is to relax your muscles, which makes it easier to grab and pull out.
Other Removal tips:
If emptying in a public bathroom, bring a water bottle in with you so you can give the cup a preliminary rinse before washing it with soap in the sink.
Always wash with a little soap and warm water after each empty.
Step 4: Post-Period Clean
After your period is over (good riddance!), boil your menstrual cup for 5 to 10 minutes, then allow to fully dry and await your next visit from Aunt Flow.
Menstrual Cups are a Period Win
Overall, Ileana says it was a great experience. She mentions that they are slightly less convenient than tampons and pads because you have to clean them after each empty, so she will probably go 50/50 for tampons and her Diva Cup for future periods. According to Ileana, it feels a little bit strange when pooping, but nothing outrageous. She also notes that WebMD advises against leaving a menstrual cup in during sex, but instead to use the disposable variety.
Want to do away with pads and tampons, but not interested in using menstrual cups? Here are a few other options that you can consider giving a shot:
The Bottom Line:
The environmental and health benefits (no cotton and much lower risk of TSS) are a huge bonus, and Ileana said she will never use anything else overnight again. At the end of the day, however, it is your choice to make. The Diva Cup worked well for Ileana, but it does not mean that it will work for you. If you are curious about trying out a menstrual cup, talk to your gynecologist first (especially if you have an IUD) and then we encourage you to give it a try. You’ll save money, produce less waste, and have easier, more care-free periods!