Menstrual Cups – What every woman needs to know about them
Menstrual Cup – A small, soft, flexible funnel like cup made of silicone or rubber that a woman can insert into her vagina to collect the blood and other fluids during her periods. Menstrual cups eliminate the use of pads or tampons during periods. These cups can hold more fluids by volume than tampons. They are hygienic (the user should also maintain them well) and are available in use and throw or reusable items.
Before buying or using a menstrual cup
Before you go ahead and use one, talk to your gynaecologist and discuss all the pros and cons of using them. Depending on your physical health condition, he/she will be the right person to guide you. Menstrual cups are available in different sizes. You need to pick the right one based on:
- Your age
- Length / depth of your cervix
- The amount of blood (and fluids) flow during your periods
- Capacity of the cup
- Strength of your pelvic floor muscles – your gynaecologist will be the right person to tell how strong your pelvic muscles are.
- If you have delivered baby vaginally.
In short, if you have not delivered vaginally and your blood flow is lesser – go for a smaller cup.
If you have delivered vaginally and your blood flow is more – go for a bigger cup.
If you have not delivered vaginally but your blood flow is higher – you can still go for a smaller cup but you need to clean it up more often. Typically it is advised to clean your cup every 12 hours.
How to insert your menstrual cup in your vagina?
If you are a user of tampons, inserting menstrual cup is similar to it.
- Wash your hands (and the cup, if you are using a reusable one) thoroughly.
- Apply water based lubricant to the rim of the (funnel shape) cup.
- Fold the funnel part of the cup into half and gently insert it into your vagina.
- The cup has to sit a couple of inches below your cervix.
- Then, twist the cup gently, so that the folded portion gets unfolded and the edges hit the walls inside your vagina.
- This effectively blocks the blood and fluids coming out of the vagina and collects it in the funnel portion of the cup.
If you have inserted the cup correctly, you should not feel uncomfortable for long. You should be able to continue with your daily activities. Should you have any questions or problems using a menstrual cup, speak to your gynaecologist.
Removing your menstrual cup
Make it a point that you need to remove the cup every 12 hours and clean it up before putting it back again. If the bleeding is heavy, you need to remove it more often, empty it and clean it thoroughly before reusing it.
Steps to remove your menstrual cup
- Wash your hands thoroughly
- Insert your thumb and index finger into your vagina. Hold the base of the cup and pull it down.
- Once the base is nearly out of the vagina, pinch it tight and pull down the cup gently.
- Empty the cup, wash it thoroughly and also your hands.
Benefits of using menstrual cups
- Reusable – You can use the same cup from 6 months to 10 years. Saves a lot of your money that you would have otherwise spent on pads or tampons.
- Safer – If you are using tampons or pads, they collect the blood but expose your vagina to the bacteria and other microbes in it. You will be at risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome (a bacterial infection) and other possible infections.
- Environmental friendly – you reduce the number of pads or tampons that you discard after using.
- Holds more blood than others – Menstrual cups, depending on the size, hold more blood than pads and tampons can.
- Use IUD – If you have an IUD inserted, you can still use menstrual cups.
Problems with menstrual cups
- If you don’t insert the cup perfectly, you can expect leaks and it can become messy to remove and clean up.
- Some people may find it difficult to insert and remove, especially if you pick the wrong size.
- Some may feel vaginal irritation with the cups.
If you find problems with menstrual cups even after using them a few times, talk to your gynaecologist and then you can switch back or change to that which you feel comfortable and convenient.
Dr. Deepa Ganesh on Menstrual Cups