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How to Use a Menstrual Cup – 5 Things You Need to Know

What you need to know about using a menstrual cup


You’re an eco-conscious girl and you’ve been hearing a lot about how to use a menstrual cup lately and how they’re an effective alternative to traditional menstrual products, in addition to being nearly waste free. But are menstrual cups for you? Is this a product that’s going to be able to fit into your busy lifestyle? As with any change, using menstrual cups comes with a bit of a learning curve, but here are 5 things women need to know before using a menstrual cup that will help you decide whether it’s time to make that switch.

Insertion will be a challenge

This is the number one deterrent to using a menstrual cup. Just take a look at any search engine and you’ll find story after story of women and their first time using a menstrual cup (or their horror stories), and you read the insertion instructions–over and over–and you’re not quite sure that you’ll be able to make this work. First, take a breath. Second, give yourself permission to fail, at least the first couple of times you try. It’s common for menstrual cups to take at least three cycles before insertion starts to feel easy. Wear a backup method of protection in case you’ve inserted the cup wrong and you leak (which is common until you get used to it), but don’t give up. Each body is different, so it’s important to understand that what might work for one woman, may not work for you. The menstrual cup is going to force you to get to know your own body–which is a good thing–and you’ll soon learn the best way to make the cup fit for you.

You are getting up close with your menstrual flow

This is also a challenge. For many women, there’s a stigma that surrounds talking about, and even experiencing, certain aspects of menstruation, but with a menstrual cup, all of your preconceived notions about periods are going to be eradicated. With the cup, you are going to be able to see exactly how heavy your flow is, and it will be an eye-opening experience. With maxi-pads, it seems that there is a never-ending fear of leaks, needing to change so that you feel fresh, and worry about the smell, and with tampons comes the need to change them frequently. All of this is eliminated with proper usage of a menstrual cup. Because they are made of medical grade silicone (Latest price for a Diva Menstrual Cup from Amazon), most cups can be safely worn for up to twelve hours. Not only that, but they keep your flow contained until you are ready to empty, properly clean, and reinsert the cup. So once you’ve done your morning routine, you’re good to go for the entire day–and you’re not going to realize how much time you spent in the bathroom worrying about your period until you no longer have to do it.

If you are going to use a menstrual cup, buy the right size

Because every woman’s body is different, it’s necessary to get the size of menstrual cup that is best for your body type and menstrual flow. There are generally different sizes for women who have given birth, and those who have not, with the cup being slightly smaller for women who haven’t given birth. Make sure you’re buying the size that is most appropriate for your body. Not only this, but many menstrual cups have a nib on the bottom that is meant to help ease removal. This nub is purposefully long and meant to be trimmed depending on the need of the woman using it. So if the nub bothers you, trim it down a little and see if it feels better. Eventually, you’re going to feel like you’re wearing nothing at all, which is a freeing–and sometimes strangely frightening–experience.

You’re going to save money and wonder how you ever used anything else

Once you buy and learn to use a menstrual cup, that’s it. Because they are made from medical grade silicone, they are durable and long-lasting. Most women are able to use their cups continuously for a year, others have been able to extend their usage beyond that. Taking proper care of your menstrual cup is going to play a big part in how long it lasts, so read the instructions and follow the outlined methods for keeping your cup clean and usable.

Because you only have to worry about one product, you no longer have to buy monthly pads or tampons to contend with your flow. This is amazing and freeing; for many women, periods are an extra expense for something that every woman will have to experience. Savings from not having to buy pads and tampons will add up, not to mention the peace of mind you’ll have not having to worry about leaking and ruining your clothes or underwear. You will be able to live your life without the shadow of your period (and anxiety about leaks) hanging over your head–and sometimes, living without fear can be the biggest adjustment of all!

Once you’re converted, you’ll want to tell everyone about your menstrual cup

You are going to become an advocate for menstrual cups. If you stick it out and get it to work for you, you’ll to wonder how you ever lived any other way–and want to tell each and every woman you meet about the wonders of your menstrual cup. And this is amazing. For many women, periods are a shameful, secretive thing, so any experience that is positive is worth talking about. And you will want to talk about how your menstrual cup makes you forget that you have your period (even if your cramps are there to remind you), and how you no longer worry about getting stuck without a pad or tampon. Your menstrual cup will be there and ready to keep your period as easy to deal with as possible.

Whether you choose to use a menstrual cup or not, it is important that more women become comfortable with their periods and comfortable talking about them before learning to use a menstrual cup. Silicone menstrual cups are a product that brings about some strong opinions, but with a little knowledge and some tenacity, you’re going to end up loving the freedom it affords you in your day-to-day life. As with any product that you’re putting in your body, it is best to discuss menstrual cups with your doctor and decide whether they are a good fit for you and your needs.

Hi, I'm Samantha. I live in Seattle and I develop logistics management software. I'm also a fitness and health advocate and an assistant editor for the AP!

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