Menstrual Cups 101
Being a tampon or a pad menstruator is extremely common in the menstrual sphere, but with our world moving to build a sustainable forum we can’t help but think of ways to help the environment but still maintain healthy menstrual hygiene.
The menstrual cup has been described by many as a product with two-way benefits. Being reusable you no longer have to worry about building your own menstrual product waste mountain, and since it is easy to maintain and clean you don’t have to fret about losing out on hygiene.
Oh, and don’t forget Comfort! Over 90% of menstrual cup users have described being sated with excellent easy and comfortable period days thanks to the cup and even say they hardly feel the presence of the cup!
Here’s an article giving you the menstrual cup 101 i.e. the starting information handbook you need to make an educated transition to a menstrual cup.
Finding the right menstrual cup
Keep in mind the triangle of diameter, length and capacity when searching for the right menstrual cup. Due to the lack of a standard size chart for menstrual cups, there are variations across different brands.
Menstrual cups come in many sizes and it’s important to find the right fit for you, to have a comfortable period. The smaller size is recommended for teens and those who haven’t given birth while the larger size for any menstrual cup brand, is recommended for menstruators who have given birth. The diameter is much longer for this size so as to accommodate for the loosening of the pelvic floor muscles after having carried a child to full term.
Choosing the larger diameter is recommended if you are unsure about what diameter would sit comfortably in your canal.
The length of the cup that you use will depend on the length of your vaginal canal. The top of the cup should sit just below your cervix while the stem should sit just inside your vagina for easy access. One can approximately measure their vaginal canal at home and then refer to the measurements online to buy a cup whose length is a little smaller than measured. Keep in mind that most measurements given by brands for their cups include the stem which can be trimmed if required.
A menstrual cup is generally designed to hold around 30mL of blood. The capacity of the cup need not be factored into the selection process unless you generally have a heavy period flow (80 - 200mL and more) and you may wish to look into a cup that has a larger capacity for your convenience.
All of the information for length, diameter and capacity is present on the packaging for all menstrual cup brands and is also available online.
Menstrual cups that are made of medical-grade silicone last for 1-5 years and are known to be very safe as they generally have no added chemicals. There are also organic variations of the cup for extra sustainability. Check with your OB-GYN for the best and safest cup material that works for you. Especially if you are looking into an organic cup.
How to use a menstrual cup
Before using the menstrual cup, one should wash their hands (make sure your fingernails aren’t sharp!) and ensure that the menstrual cup is clean. Fold the cup and then insert it into the vagina. There are several types of ways to fold the menstrual cup, the most common ones are the C-fold and the Pushdown fold. If it is inserted properly, the cup will completely unfold and create a suction that can be heard or felt with a pop. Push the cup in until the stem is no longer protruding from the vagina. Rotate the cup if required and check if there are any folds along the rim. The cup can sit for around 12 hours without changing.
To remove the cup, ensure that your hands are washed and then bear down and pinch the base of the cup. This will break the suction seal and allow you to easily pull it out. Empty the cup by pouring the contents into the toilet. Rinse the cup with warm water and then reinsert it.
It may take a couple of tries to get used to so don’t worry if you don’t get it right on the first!
Between uses each month The cup can be placed in boiling water to kill germs and completely disinfect it.
Do your research well, don’t rush and don’t lose hope. Now is always the best time to start your search. Although it may seem daunting to you right now, it doesn’t take very long for people a cup that works for them and once you do find the perfect cup you will be set for a very long time!
Written by: Sanjana Gandhi
Graphics by: Shreya Krishnamurthy