You’ve probably heard of the Diva Cup, the first nationally recognized modern menstrual cup that hit store shelves several years ago. But older versions have actually been available in other countries since the 1930s. The first US menstrual cup was manufactured in 1987. And they have been made from several substances, including rubber and silicone. Periods are no fun. But dealing with them doesn’t have to be torture thanks to the Diva Cup.
Besides Diva, there are Lena, Lunette, Flex, Pixie, Super Jennie, Lily, Nixit, Blossom, Intimina, Cleo, and other cups to choose from. All of these brands are available online, and at some over the counter at pharmacies and grocery stores. Most menstrual cups are reusable, helping protect the environment and your wallet. Some types are disposable.
Using a menstrual cup does take practice, but once you get the hang of it it will become easier and you won’t need to wear a pad or liner for extra protection against leaks. First, tightly fold the menstrual cup and insert it into your vagina, similar to a bare tampon. Once inside the cup should open on its own, but you may have to rotate or pull it slightly. When in place it must sit below the cervix and form a seal against the vaginal walls. You should not be able to feel it or be uncomfortable.
To remove the cup, sit or squat, grab the stem, push the cup with your pelvic floor muscles, and hold the base of the cup as it comes out, careful not to spill the contents. Empty the cup into a sink or toilet, wash and rinse with soap and water, then reinsert. Sterilize your reusable cup in boiling water at the end of your cycle. Not doing so could invite bacterial infections.
One reusable cup can last up to 10 years and contributes less waste to landfills compared to single-use pads and tampons. Depending on flow and size, menstrual cups can be left in for 12 hours, making them good for overnight protection. Tampons need to be changed every 6 to 8 hours regardless of flow for health and safety. Menstrual cups can hold 1 oz of liquid, about 2x that of super absorbent tampons and pads. Menstrual blood can smell when exposed to air, but the cup forms a seal that prevents these odors. And disposable menstrual cups are designed to be left in during sex, although reusable ones must be removed.
You must find the right fit for you. Menstrual cups come in different sizes, and whether you’ve had a child, having a tilted uterus or low cervix, and other comfort considerations contribute to what size you’ll need. You may make several purchases or have leaks until you find the right one. You’ll also have to wash your cup in the sink in a public bathroom or bring a bottle of water to rinse it over the toilet. You may want to talk to your OBGYN if you have an IUD, as there may be some concern about interference.
Menstrual cups may not be new but many of us are just now learning about them. They are starting to be considered a more mainstream option in women’s healthcare. A menstrual cup is an easy, convenient, eco-friendly alternative to pads and tampons. A win-win. Have you tried a menstrual cup? Now after reading this, do you want to?!