How & Why To Use A Menstrual Cup

reading time: 4 min

Episode 2.
What you see in this picture is not a weirdly shaped measuring cup, but a menstrual cup. Menstrual cups have actually been around since the 1930s, but just now almost 100 years later! they are gaining popularity worldwide. I've been using mine for 6 months now, and I'm never going back to tampons! 

But what is a menstrual cup, and how does it work?

A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped feminine hygiene product and an eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads. It is made of flexible medical grade silicone, and unlike tampons and cups it doesn't absorb the menstrual blood, but collects it. The stem is used for removing the cup (see instructions below), similar to the string attached to tampons. Every 2 to 12 hours (depending on the amount of flow), the cup needs to be removed, emptied, rinsed, and reinserted. 

But why use this weird looking thing instead of a tampon or a pad?

The Benefits of using a Menstrual Cup

  • less to no leaking
  • up to 12 hours coverage
  • no unpleasant odors 
  • no surfactants, adhesives and additives such as bleach (as with tampons and pads)
  • earth-friendly due to less waste
  • reduced risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
  • reduced risk of vaginal mycosis or other yeast infections
  • cost-effective (about 30$ per cup that can be used for up to 10 years)
  • get to know your body better!

The average woman uses approximately 20 tampons per cycle. That's 240 tampons each year that pile up on the landfills!

How To Use a Menstrual Cup

1. Sterilize your menstrual cup by boiling it in water for a few minutes, either in a pot or the microwave.

2. With washed hands, tightly fold the (cooled!) menstrual cup using your favourite folding technique I prefer the Half V aka Punch Down Fold.

3. Squat down, gently separate the labia with your free hand, and insert the cup like a tampon without an applicator. Relax.

4. To seal the cup, grip the base (not the stem) and turn the cup one full rotation in either direction. This ensures that it is fully open. You can also run your finger around between the cup and the wall of your vagina, making sure that the cup is not still folded.

5. To remove the cup, pull gently on the stem until you can reach the base of the cup. Pinch the base of the cup to release the seal (you will feel the seal break and hear the air enter the cup) and continue to pull down to remove it. After the cup has been removed, empty the contents in the toilet, rinse the cup with water (make sure to clean the tiny air holes at the rim!), and reinsert.

TIPS: If you have trouble removing your cup at the beginning, don't worry, and don't panic! It is physically impossible to lose anything in the finite space that is your vagina. Your cup will come out, so just try to relax, and try it again :) I find that pressing down the cup with my vaginal muscles helps to push it out, making it easier to grab the base.

When travelling or in a public toilet with no sink in reach, bring a bottle of water with you into the stall and rinse the cup out before inserting, or wipe it clean with soap-free baby wipes.

6. At the end of your circle, sterilize it again by boiling in water for 5-10 minutes. Do NOT use regular soap to clean your cup because they contain perfumes which can cause irritation to your vagina and cause an imbalance to your natural pH. Instead, use a fragrance-free, mild soap, or 1 tbsp of baking soda.

7. Allow your cup to dry. Store in a clean cotton bag or other breathable container – nothing airtight!

Remember that it may take a while to get used to using a menstrual cup. So take your time :)

Which Menstrual Cup is the Right One?

There is an overwhelming amount of menstrual cups offered on the market, and it can be quite daunting to decide which one to go for, especially since you can't return the cup once you've used it. There's the DivaCup, the EvaCup, the MeLuna, the Lunette, the Yuuki, the Intimina cup, the Mooncup, the Super Jennie... The list goes on and on!

I did my research and compared several brands in terms of their holding capacity, firmness and length. You can take a test such as this menstrual cup match to see which cup is best suited for your needs. Make sure to get your cervix height checked (either measure it yourself using your finger, or have your gynaecologist measure it for you, which is what I did) before taking the quiz!

Helpful facts to determine the right menstrual cup for you:
  • your age
  • your average menstrual flow
  • your activity
  • height of your cervix
  • strength of your pelvic floor muscles
In my case the cup needed to be flexible enough to do yoga, firm enough to resist my strong pelvic floor, big enough to accommodate my heavy flow, and long enough to match my high cervix. Eventually I went for the Yuuki cup which comes in two different types, SOFT and CLASSIC, and two different sizes: size 1 is the smaller one for lighter flow and younger women, size 2 is the bigger one for heavy flow and active women or women who have given birth. Plus, the cup comes with a cute disinfecting box. I chose the CLASSIC size 2 one even though I haven't given birth yet, and I'm very pleased with it!

It feels so much safer, cleaner, and just overall better :) 

Have you heard of menstrual cups before? And have you ever used one, or would be interested to try it? 
Let me know in the comments!