Menstrual Cups

An Alternative to Pads and Tampons: The Menstrual Cup


For generations, women have relied on pads and tampons as their main options for managing menstrual flow. However, a new alternative has emerged that some find more comfortable and eco-friendly than traditional choices – the menstrual cup. Menstrual cups are flexible bell-shaped cups made of medical-grade silicone or rubber that collect menstrual fluid inside the vagina rather than absorbing it like pads and tampons.

What is a Menstrual Cup?

Menstrual cups are small, flexible cups that are folded and inserted into the vagina during a woman’s period to collect menstrual fluid. The cups come in a range of sizes to fit different vaginal anatomies and flow levels. Most Menstrual Cups hold around 20-30ml of fluid, meaning they do not need to be emptied as frequently as pads and tampons. The cups are made of medical-grade silicone or rubber that is BPA, latex, and chemical free. Most cups are designed to last 5-10 years with proper care. To use a cup, it is folded and inserted into the vagina where it pops open to form a seal. The cups must be emptied periodically by breaking the seal, folding, and removing the cup to empty contents.

Benefits of Menstrual Cups

Environmentally Friendly
Unlike disposable pads and tampons, which can end up polluting landfills and oceans, a Menstrual Cups is reusable. One cup can replace over 11,000 disposable pads or tampons in a woman’s lifetime, dramatically reducing waste. As the cups last years, they are a sustainable option for managing periods.
Cost Effective
While the initial investment in a cup may be higher than buying a pack of pads or tampons, menstrual cups pay for themselves over time since they are reusable for years. The long-term costs are far lower than continuously purchasing disposable period products monthly.
Leakage Prevention
A properly placed menstrual cup forms a seal inside the vaginal canal to prevent any leaks. Leaking is less of an issue compared to pads and tampons which may shift out of place. Menstrual cups collect or absorb all flow rather than resting against it like pads and tampons.
Some women find menstrual cups more comfortable than other options. The cup sits lower in the vaginal canal closer to the cervix so it may cause less discomfort, while pads can rub or feel bulky. There is no risk of toxic shock syndrome from a cup like with tampons.

How To Use a Menstrual Cup

To use a menstrual cup properly, it is important to follow these basic steps:
Fold the cup into a small shape – most cups can be folded into a “C”, “7”, or accordion fold. This makes insertion easier.
Locate the vaginal opening and insert the folded cup high inside the vaginal canal. Push it all the way until the seal forms around the cervix.
The cup will unfold and form a seal once fully inserted. Gently pull on the stem to ensure it is securely in place.
To remove, squeeze the cup sides together and slide it out. Empty the contents by tipping the cup over the toilet or sink. Rinse and reinsert, or store in a dry area until the next use.
It takes a few cycles to get used to inserting and removing the cup. Proper placement is key to preventing leaks. With practice, most women can learn to use cups with ease.

Variations in Cup Options

While the basic concept is the same, menstrual cups come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials suited to different needs:

Capacity: Small, medium, and large cups hold 10-30ml. Size is based on a woman’s flow levels.
Firmness: Soft, firm, or extra-firm cups impact ease of insertion/removal. Firmer cups form a tighter seal.
Stem: Some cups have a removal stem while stemless cups are also available.
Color: Clear or colored cups allow checking fluids suctioned inside without dumping contents.
Materials: Silicone based cups are most common, but natural rubber options also exist.

Proper care like rinsing after each use and boiling periodically keeps cups hygienic and lasting many years.With the right cup chosen, it is a discreet, comfortable, and eco-friendly period solution for active women.

Potential Cup Concerns

While cups offer many benefits, some concerns exist for certain users:
Learning curve: It can take a few cycles to get used to inserting and removing cups comfortably. Proper placement is important to prevent leaks.
Cups are not suitable during heavy flows as they could overflow more quickly than pads/tampons. Flow monitoring helps.
Some women may find insertion/removal difficult or experienced discomfort in the first cycles due to cup size or firmness not matching anatomy.
Rare cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome from cups have occurred, though risk is extremely low compared to tampons. Regular cleaning prevents growth of bacteria.
Not ideal for women with low-lying or tender cervixes due to potentially greater discomfort from cup placement.

Overall Verdict

For the majority of women, menstrual cups provide an affordable, eco-friendly, and leak-proof alternative to traditional period products. With the ability to last for years with proper care, cups reduce waste produced from disposables each month. While initially foreign, the process of insertion and removal improves over time. A variety of cup sizes, shapes and materials exist to suit different anatomies and flow levels. Menstrual cups are a convenient solution for active, environmentally-conscious women wanting to gain more control over their periods. With the right cup, maintenance and use, they can become a preferred choice.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research.
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.