This post will be a bit longer than normal and c’mon it is to be expected. It is about menstrual cups and it will be TMI. Read on if you need an honest review and opinion about menstrual cups. (Do read on what to expect while using menstrual cup)
What are Menstrual Cups?
Menstrual cups are medical grade silicone bell shaped cups used to collect menstrual fluid or blood during menstruation or periods. They have a stem usually a few centimeters long which helps in insertion and removal of the cup. They are inserted into the vagina (similar to tampons). Usually the cups higher up in the vagina as compared to a tampon. Properly inserted the menstrual cup creates a seal around the vaginal wall which prevents any leaks unless your cup is full. Unlike napkin and tampons, cups have a longer residence time. You can go up to 12 hours without emptying the cup (depending on your flow)
Why use Menstrual Cups?
All through my teen years I used sanitary napkins. And there was not the variety then that there is now. Back when I started, we had the type of napkin where you wear an elastic belt which comes with loops that you can tie the napkin. (Some of you might remember the brand Carefree). Trust me leaks were often that the changing of the napkin every 2-4 hours was mandatory. Then a few years came the sticking type (Stayfree and Whisper), which was all the rage when I was in high school. But during the heavy flow days, it was not enough and more than once I’ve stained my underwear, tights and skirt (including the white one). Some of you who have used the napkins available today will know that rashes were a silent part of the package. So merrily along I went using the sticking sanitary napkin ad enduring the rashes all through high school and college.
When I started working, I came across the tampon and my god it was a revelation! I did not realize periods could be so easy and rash free. So I started switching to tampons. There was the added necessity to change the tampon to prevent any infection. Luckily my work place had the facility to dispose of napkins and tampons. But my new job does not. So I went back to the forgotten sanitary napkin and unforgettable rash. Then came the problem of disposing the sanitary napkin at home. With the added problem of the municipality does not collect solid waste from my residential area, I started to research on other method of feminine hygiene during my periods. There are many reasons to start using the cup. And there is no right reason. This was mine. So I did as much research as what was available on the net about menstrual cups and Indian minds. I purchased my cup based on the reviews available on Amazon.in
What to expect using the Cup?
I wish I had this bit of information beforehand, just so I could have been more prepared. There are a few things to keep in mind about using Menstrual Cups so even if the rest of the article seems to be too long, do read this bit, it will help you.
- You will be handling things down there, so be prepared to be very very self intimate. More so than if you use tampons. If you do not use tampons and have never been sexually active, then take the time to find your vaginal opening. If you are used to being self intimate then more power to you!
- Get used to blood on the fingers. Insertion and removal of the cup could get some amount of the blood on your fingers. So wash your hands (especially under the nails) with soap before and after.
- Relax. The more you feel relaxed, easier the insertion (really!). Some articles mention masturbation as a method of relaxation. I simply breathe in and out deeply while insertion and removal. Actively try to relax your vaginal muscles. The breathing does help, as long as it’s deep.
- Do not panic if you cannot find the cup at the time of removal. During the day there is chance that the cup might move up the vaginal tract and land up close to the cervix. All you need to do is push the cup down. How? Just try to poop. The muscles will push the cup down to the vaginal opening.
- Always sterilize the cup before each cycle. I sterilize my cups before and after each cycle. It is not necessary, I’m just really worried about catching an infection.
- You may not get it right the first time. Do not lose heart. Just try again. Practice makes perfect. Just as precaution use a panty liner or napkin during your first time. I had leaked the first time and then never again.
How to use the Menstrual Cup?
So you have decided to use the cup, what do you do.
- Always start with clean hands. Use oil or water as a lubricant. Apply the oil around the rim of the cup, then fold the cup in your dominant hand. Most sites will advise the C-fold, but I recommend the punch down-fold.
- Sit down on the toilet or stand with one foot on the toilet to spread the groin area. Using the other hand, separate the labia of the vulva and slowly insert the cup. Breathe deeply while you insert to relax the muscles.
- Once the rim is completely inserted into the vagina, let go of your hand and push the cup up with your finger placed on the base of the cup. The cup is designed to naturally pop open when there is no external pressure so it will open. It may not open to its natural form, it will however, open and adjust the shape of your vagina.
- Push the cup into the vagina till the stem of the cup is also inserted. Run your finger around the base of the cup. As long as there is no indentation the cup has open properly. Tug slowly using the stem to check the seal is form around the wall of the vagina.
- Squat over the toilet or stand with a foot on the toilet. To remove the cup, push the cup down using the abdomen muscles or wiggle it down till you feel the stem of the cup at the vaginal opening. Then, with a single finger, break the seal of the cup by running the finger around the rim of the cup. Carefully and gently pull the cup out of the vagina and empty the contents into the toilet bowl. Never ever tug on the stem of the cup without breaking the seal.
- Wash the cup with soap and re-insert if required.
What are the advantages?
- Wear it and forget it. Empty the cup very 8-12 hours unless you have a very heavy flow.
- No need to dispose unlike the napkin or tampon. Just empty the blood into the toilet, wash the cup and re-insert. Helping the environment by not adding to the landfills.
- The cups last for up-to 10 years. The cup is made of durable, medical grade silicone.
- No rashes or allergic reaction (Huge plus for me)
Whatever your reason to use the menstrual cup, I hope this article helps clear some doubts and gives you the confidence to try the cup. I highly recommend the cup. Please leave a comment in case you have a query.