Ever heard about menstrual cups? You might have, but the fact is that 50 % of the Indian population doesn’t what a menstrual cup is. A large population of Indian women is not even using sanitary pads. That’s how much we are lacking or should I say “were” lacking behind in the case of menstrual hygiene and sex education. But in the last few years, India has been making great efforts to spread the concept of menstrual hygiene. As a part of it, menstrual cups are also coming into the spotlight.
Now, let’s discover the whole new (at least to some people) world of menstrual cups…
What is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups are the most hygienic sanitary products present in the market now. They are an eco-friendly and more hygienic substitute to the commonly used sanitary pads. Menstrual cups are reusable funnel-shaped cups made from rubber or silicone. Unlike sanitary pads, they are inserted into the vagina. Menstrual cups collect the blood instead of absorbing it like a sanitary pad or tampon. Menstrual cups can be reused and also sustain longer than sanitary pads. In every way, it is more efficient than sanitary pads.
Menstrual cups were created in the 1920s by an American actress Leona Chalmers. She patented it too. In India, although all these years passed Indian women are terrified and struggling by the idea of inserting something that big into their vagina.
The insertion of the menstrual cup should be handled with much care. Before starting to use a menstrual cup, you should take advice from your gynecologist. Because the size of menstrual cups will differ according to the size of your vagina too. So, to choose the right menstrual cup, you will need professional guidance.
The menstrual cup size will depend upon:
- cervix length
- consistency of flow
- capacity and flexibility of the cup
- vaginal birth history, if you have given birth vaginally or you have a heavy flow larger cups are used. For younger women and women who don’t have a history of vaginal birth, smaller cups are suggested.
How to use it?
The most important thing while using a menstrual cup is that we have to maintain hygiene while inserting and removing it.
Let’s see how to insert a menstrual cup:
- Make sure your hands are hygienic before using menstrual cups.
- Now, lubricate the rim of the menstrual cup using water or other water-based lubricants.
- Hold the cup in your hand with the rim facing up and fold it tightly into half.
- Now insert the rim of a half-folded cup into the vagina Insert it till it reaches few inches before the cervix.
- Once it is inside your vagina, rotate and release it. This will expand the cup into its original size and will create an airtight seal.
If the menstrual cup is placed properly in your vagina, you won’t feel its presence. But instead, if it is in the wrong position, you will feel uneasiness. So, if you are having difficulties, consult your doctor.
The removal of a menstrual cup should be also done carefully. Follow these steps to remove the cup:
- Make sure your hands are hygienic before removing the menstrual cup.
- With your index finger and the thumb pull the stem of the menstrual cup gently. Pull it until you feel the base of the cup.
- Now pinch the base of the cup. The airtight seal will be released. Now pull down the cup to remove it.
- Empty the cup once it’s completely out.
How to take care of the cup?
Menstrual cups should be well taken care of after use because unlike pads, these are inserted into your vagina. So, any unhygienic condition can cause infection or other health issues. The reused cups should wash and wipe clean immediately after use. The cups should be cleaned at least 2 times a day. The cups should be sterilized at least after 2 or three uses. Make sure the cups are clean before you insert them again. You should change your menstrual cups according to their durability given. Store the cups in a sealed box or somewhere it can’t be contaminated easily.
Pros of menstrual cups
Menstrual cups are underrated in India. Most people don’t know the advantages of using menstrual cups. In many ways, menstrual cups are better than sanitary pads.
Let’s see their pros:
- Menstrual cups are affordable: Only 2 or 3 menstrual cups are needed for many years whereas pads and tampons have to be bought regularly through the year. Usage of cups will save you a fortune.
- Large capacity: The menstrual cups can hold more blood than pads and tampons so they can be kept continuously for around 12 hours.
- Safer: The usage of cups is safer than pads and tampons. Because the materials used in the pads when exposed to skin for a long time can cause skin allergies or infection. Likewise, tampons can cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS). So menstrual cups are always a better option.
- Eco-friendly: The continuous burning and disposal of sanitary pads pollute the environment. With reusable menstrual cups, you are reducing the amount of waste in the environment.
- No leak
- No change in PH
Cons of menstrual cups
Like any other product menstrual cups also have their challenges.
- Spills: Menstrual cups can be messy. It might be difficult to remove your cup with all the blood. The blood can be spilled while removing the cup.
- Difficulties of insert and remove: At first it might be difficult to get the right folding before inserting the cup. You might also find it difficult to pull down and pinch the cup base.
- Difficult to find the right cup size: You may have to try some brands before fixing the perfect one for you because menstrual cups are not one-size-fits-all.
- Vaginal irritation or infection: IF the cups are not cleaned before insertion it may lead to vaginal irritation or infection.
Myths about menstrual cups
In the beginning, there were a lot of misunderstandings or myths about the usage of menstrual cups. But once people started to use it and study about it, all these myths were busted. Let’s see some of the myths related to menstrual cups:
- Menstrual cups can make you lose your virginity.
No. Virginity is not connected to your hymen. One will lose her virginity only by sex not by breaking the hymen.
- Menstrual cups can stretch your vagina
No. The vaginal muscles come back to their normal state once the cups are removed.
- Menstrual cups can get lost in the vagina
It is impossible because the cup can never pass through the cervix into your uterus.
- Menstrual cups are one-size-fits-all
The perfect size of the cup for every woman will be different according to their vaginal size, their flow, etc.
Menstrual cups are the most reliable types of sanitary products. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is the time. Go buy a menstrual pad and try it out to find the magic. I am sure that once tried you will love it. Be a “cup girl”.