Menstrual cups are a lifechanger, no joke. Also called a period cup, these bell shaped cups with a stem, usually made of medical-grade silicone, are designed to be inserted into the vaginal canal to collect blood. They eliminate the need for pads and tampons, are eco-friendly and save TONS of money. You no longer need to buy period products each month, deal with messy and gross tampons and pads, or have to change them every few hours.
I have tried period underwear, organic tampons and organic pads (many of which I love), but nothing has gotten me hooked quite like period cups have. It can be difficult when first trying them out, but once you get the hang of it, they’re a piece of cake. Many brands usually offer them in different sizes, small or large, and firm versus soft. Here’s why you should be using a menstrual cup:
+ Safe, effective & affordable
+ Economical: Saves you up to a hundred dollars each year
+ Sustainable: Better for the planet because they are reusable while tampons and pads must be thrown out after each use
+ Lasts up to 10 years
+ No more risk of toxic shock syndrome from tampons
+ Comfortable: Once you insert it, you can’t even feel it’s there
+ Hassle-free: They can be left in for up to 12 hours, meaning you can leave it in and forget it about all day, changing it just before going to bed and leaving it in throughout the night.
HOW TO SANITIZE YOUR CUP BEFORE USE
Menstrual cups don’t come in a sterile state, so you need to make sure to sanitize it correctly before inserting it. Boil it in hot water for 4-5 minutes, not longer, and hold it in place with tongs or other utensil so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot.
HOW TO INSERT YOUR CUP
There are various ways to insert it and with practice you’ll discover which you find easiest.
1.FOLD THE CUP
- C-fold or U-fold: This is my preferred method. You press the sides of the cup together with your thumb and index finger. Then fold the cup in half, so it looks like the letters C or U from above.
- Punch-down fold: Put a finger on the top rim of the cup and push it into the center of the cup (near the base) to form a triangle.
- 7-fold: Press the sides of the cup together so that from the top it looks like a long oval. Fold one side down diagonally, so it looks like the number 7.
While some people can easily insert just by lifting one leg up on the sink or sitting, I have found that I can only attempt to insert once I’m in the lowest squat position possible. Imagine how a frog sits on a lilypad and that’s how you should be squatting. Relax your vaginal muscles so that they loosen and widen.
TIPS ON INSERTING
- “Lubing” the cup can help you slide it in more easily. Try wetting it before folding and inserting.
- Lie on the bed and lift your legs up high while inserting (tip provided by OBL member @hananasrkt
You can use one hand to open up the labial folds. Then push the cup and stem all the way into the vagina and then twist it around a full circle to make sure the folds all open up. I have never been able to successfully rotate my cup an entire 360 degrees, but I try to move and wiggle it around to make sure it isn’t still folded. Generally it opens up easily on its own. If it hasn’t opened up you’ll experience leakage, which is what we want to avoid.
HOW TO REMOVE YOUR CUP
After leaving it in for 12 hours, it’s time to dump out the collected blood and re-insert it for another 12 hours. I find the best way to do this is by sitting on the toilet so you can easily dump out the blood without having to look at it (the grossest part). Once you’re sitting, instead of pulling down from the stem, you should use your forefinger and thumb to grip the base of the cup. Then push your fingers together to release some pressure. This makes it a lot easier to remove. Once some suction is released, you can then pull it out and quickly tilt over to dump into the toilet and flush. If you find that by pulling the stem you can easily slide it out, then use the method that best works for you.
+ Tip to Prevent Staining: While black cups do not stain, if you have a lighter colored cup it can get stained from your period. While it’s perfectly safe to use even if stained, it just doesn’t look appealing. After you remove your cup first rinse it with COLD water not hot water to remove the blood. Once it’s clean, I recommend using hot water and soap to thoroughly sanitize the cup before inserting it in again.
+ Boil in hot water for extra sanitation between each use
+ Pooping with your cup in can sometimes cause it to slide out. Try removing before doing the deed.
+ Be sure to wash your hands well before inserting or removing the cup to prevent bacteria from getting around your vagina
+ You can absolutely trim the stem of your cup if you find it uncomfortably long
Saalt PERIOD CUP
This blog post is not sponsored by Saalt, but I recently worked with them on the first National Period Day and wanted to highlight this amazing company. They are everything you want in a period cup company and more.
Saalt cups are toxin-free and made with medical-grade silicone, come in Himalayan Pink or Ocean Blue, and in Small or Regular size. A Small holds two to three tampon capacity and a Regular holds three to four tampon capacity.
I love the passionate activism and giving back that Saalt is commited to. They invest in women by funding educational scholarships and life skills training, donate reusable period care products, and they work tirelessly to bring awareness to and end the stigma around periods. They have started 12 cup pilot programs in 10 different countries, donated 2,553 Saalt cups, and funded 1800 days of school for girls in rural Nepal. They are making a direct impact in countries with the most need like Kenya, Sudan and India. They also partner with Period: The Menstrual Movement, a global youth-run nonprofit started by activist Nadya Okamoto you should absolutely be following.