How to use a Menstrual Cup ? | Benefits of Menstrual Cup
Evolution of Menstrual Cups
Menstrual cups – In the past few months, we have covered a lot of beauty trends, gone through a lot of products and best practices that make up for a healthy living. I think it’s time we talk about personal hygiene which has gained a lot of attention nowadays. Even until recently, menstruation has been associated with stigma and taboo, because it is shrouded in secrecy and shame. Girls/women are shunned from holy places just because they are bleeding. Little do they know that it’s a bodily process and that it should be embraced instead of shaming it.
After many inventions and breaking stereotypes, this has become a budding topic among millennials. What most intrigued me is the invention of menstrual cups and their gaining popularity in recent years. But how did we move from paper, clothes to menstrual cups and tampons?
In ancient times, women have used various materials to absorb the blood like papyrus, lint around wood as tampons, paper, moss, buffalo skin. These were considered “natural” products. In the 1800s, women continued their DIY approach to make their own menstrual pads or bought washable pads and some even used clothes to absorb the blood.
Why to invest in buying a Menstrual Cup?
Finally, in the 1960s, Stayfree created the first maxi pad with an adhesive strip, which is still popularly used worldwide. By 1980, about 70 percent of women were using tampons. While this was not advertised enough, word spread among women. Women and young girls who used to make do with reusing old cloth during their menstrual cycle had adopted to use sanitary pads. The latest in the pod is the menstrual cup which was patented in 1932. Despite their complex usage, menstrual cups are becoming popular among young girls/women around the world.
When I came across menstrual cups, I wanted to know more about them so I got to do a little research about them. One thing that struck me was the price difference between sanitary pads and these cups. According to reports, a woman spends Rs. 5,17,121.71 on an average on menstrual products in her lifetime. Whereas, a menstrual cup costs nothing more than Rs. 500 that can be re-used for 10 years in proper condition. Another reason being that the cups are safe, effective, and more environmentally friendly according to research. Since the plastic used in sanitary pads is non-biodegradable, a single woman can generate up to 125 kg of waste in her lifetime which can lead to health and environmental hazards. So, benefits of menstrual cup are for environment too.
How to use a menstrual cup?
The cup comes in different sizes (small, medium, large) so first, you need to understand which size is suitable for you which can differ as per the brand specification. Before using the cup for the first time, it is necessary to read the instructions carefully on the packaging box and wash or sterilize it accordingly. There are a lot of brands that provide the cup wash along with the cup. It is best to wash the hands with soap before inserting or removing the cup.
Now, there are 2 parts of the cup: the cup and the stem at the bottom. The stem helps in the easy removal of the cup. The cup is made of silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing the flow like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects the flow.
Disinfect the cup before use by washing and putting it in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
FOLD & HOLD
Take the cup with clean hands and fold its rim twice, holding it firmly between your thumb & forefinger. It can seem complicated at first but refer to the below picture for some of the popular folds to try.
Take a deep breath and try to relax. Hold the cup at an angle aiming towards the base of our spine. Gently push the folded top into the vaginal opening. You can also try to do it in a squatting position which gives a better angle. You can try any different position which might be comfortable for you.
Once the rim is in, continue to push until the entire cup and the stem are inside. The cup should pop open and prevents any menstrual blood from leaking. To make sure, hold the base of the cup and rotate it to 360 degrees. Once your cup is in place, try to pull the stem a little bit, if you feel resistance, the suction is created and the cup is inserted correctly. When it is in the right place, most people don’t even feel it.
To remove the cup, bend down slightly in a squat position and with clean hands, gently grab the stem of the cup and pull it down. It is also helpful to use the vaginal muscles to push the cup further down. Pinch the base of the cup to release the vacuum and remove it. Try not to spill any blood by holding the cup upright.
Simply empty the blood into the toilet pot and rinse it with either a cup wash or normal soap and water right away. If you’re using a public restroom, you can use wipes or toilet paper to clean it but make sure to wash it properly on the next opportunity.
Before keeping it away for the next cycle, it is best to wash the cup thoroughly and disinfect it by boiling the cup in water for 3-5 minutes and store your cup in the bag/container that comes with the menstrual cup.
Benefits of Menstrual Cup
Here are some true benefits of menstrual cup.
- It’s eco- and wallet-friendly: A reusable cup costs up to Rs. 500 can last up to 10 years. This means less waste and less money over time.
- You can leave it in for 12 hours: Tampons or sanitary pads need to be changed every 5-6 hours depending on your flow. But the cup can stay longer, ideal for overnight protection. Depending on the intensity of your flow, you may have to empty it more than twice a day which is why it is recommended to empty it more often, in the beginning, to get to know the timing.
- Less odor: Menstrual blood can start to smell when exposed to air but the cup forms an airtight seal.
- It holds more: unlike tampons and sanitary pads, the cup holds twice the amount of blood. The difference can depend on your heavy flow days.
- Lasts for approximately 10 years, one single menstrual cup can be used again and again for maximum 10 years. But you may need to change it early also.
- You can wear anything you want.
- You can exercise without worrying about leakage, you can do all those activities which you were uncomfortable in while wearing sanitary pads
- It does not feel like you have inserted something in your private part.
Tips for first time menstrual cup users:
- Read the instructions thoroughly.
- Wear a panty liner until you feel comfortable.
- Trim the stem of the cup.
- Practice before your period.
- Use lubrication.
In the end, we have established the benefits of menstrual cup and that using menstrual cups is the new normal among young girls and women and considering it can be a great option for period hygiene. Also, going through the above pointers, we have debunked the significant myths around the cup. While it may take several attempts to get completely familiar with the cup, it is better to practice it until you’re comfortable. So patience is the key!
Grab your menstrual cup from Nykaa or Amazon..
Last but not the least, cups come in different sizes depending on your age, flow, and whether you’ve had a child. So it is important to finding the perfect fit to avoid having leaks.
If you still have any doubts, you can consult your doctor and then invest. I say it’s a go!