When many women have their periods, they might think about only two options to stem the flow: pads or tampons. However, another less known method of keeping flow under control is the menstrual cup. Today, Anna Targonskaya, a professional ob-gyn and medical consultant at Flo, answers the most popular questions on menstrual cups asked by our users. Check her answers in the article below.
Article From Flow Health
24 April 2020
How does a menstrual cup work?
The menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product made of silicone or latex rubber. The cup is inserted into the vagina and works by catching and collecting menstrual blood. If used correctly, your menstrual cup is a safe and comfortable means of feminine hygiene.
How good are menstrual cups?
The menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product made of latex rubber or silicone. The cup is inserted into the vagina and works by collecting (but not absorbing) menstrual fluid. They are perfect for women with heavy menstrual flow. Menstrual cups can also be used by virgins. They are safe and comfortable to use. Most cups are reusable which makes them economically beneficial and safe for the environment. You can swim and train with a menstrual cup and not worry about leakage.
Are menstrual cups and tampons better than pads?
It isn’t correct to say that cups or tampons are better than pads. The most important question is what is better, more comfortable or safer for you personally. Learn about all the options and choose the one that is suitable for you.
How to choose a menstrual cup?
The most important thing in choosing a menstrual cup is to pick the correct size. The size of the cup will depend on how heavy your flow is, if you are a virgin and whether you had vaginal labor. If you pick the correct cup size, you will not feel any discomfort and won't notice any leakage.
How to start using a menstrual cup?
You don't need any special preparations to start using a menstrual cup. Remember, it is important to choose the right size. Before using the cup, learn how to insert and remove it correctly, and also how to take care of it. If you don't have any issues like urinary tract infections (UTIs), an intrauterine device inserted, anatomical peculiarities like uterine retroversion, a short or scarred cervix, and postpartum scars, you can easily use it. You can start using a menstrual cup once you have your first period.
Can I use a menstrual cup if I'm a virgin?
You can use a menstrual cup if you are a virgin. You needn’t worry; inserting it will not harm your hymen. Besides, there are different sizes of the menstrual cup for you to feel comfortable.
How to insert a menstrual cup?
Here are some simple steps to insert a menstrual cup:
Wash your hands.
Fold and hold (one of the most common ways to fold a menstrual cup is a C-fold).
Insert the folded cup into your vagina tilting it back to your spine.
Use it for up to 12 hours.
Remove it, empty it, and clean.
Re-insert the cup.
How to take a menstrual cup out?
Removing the cup is very easy. Don't try to pull it. Push the cup out with the muscles of your pelvic floor. Press on its base, grab it with two fingers on both sides and remove. If you do everything right, you will not feel any discomfort or pain.
How often should I empty a menstrual cup?
General recommendations are that you should empty a menstrual cup two times a day or every 10 to 12 hours. If you feel that you have to empty it more frequently, do so. This will help you to avoid leaks and maintain good hygiene. When it comes to feminine hygiene, the pads and tampons are usually better known. However, the menstrual cup can be an option you can choose. It can collect a larger volume and is also safe and comfortable.
Are you supposed to boil a menstrual cup after each use?
You don't have to boil a menstrual cup after every use. It is recommended to empty and wash the cup or clean it with a special napkin at least every 12 hours. You should boil it for 5 to 10 minutes only after your period ends. Boiling it more frequently may result in damaging the silicone.
How to clean a menstrual cup in a public restroom?
Sometimes it happens that you need to empty your menstrual cup while in a public place. Don't worry, you can remove and empty the cup in a public restroom. Wash your hands with soap, remove the cup and empty it. Wash the cup with water or with a sanitary napkin. You can carry a bottle of water with you in order to wash the cup over the toilet. Don't forget to wash your hands before you do it.
Is it normal for a menstrual cup to leak?
If inserted and used correctly, a menstrual cup should not leak. But there are some cases when it can happen. For example, if a menstrual cup is not inserted properly or if it is not emptied as frequently as needed or if your flow is too heavy or the cup is small.
Do menstrual cups suit for doing sports?
The menstrual cup is a good choice if you want to do sport while you're on your period. If it is inserted and used correctly, it will not leak or cause any discomfort while training. Though cups can make it possible to train during menstruation and feel comfortable, it is not recommended to train heavily during the first several days of your period.
May a menstrual cup leak during exercising or sleeping?
In general, menstrual cups should not leak. If you notice blood leakage, you might have placed the cup incorrectly. During sleep or exercising a cup may shift and it can cause leakage. Make sure you picked the correct cup size.
Can period pain get worse when you use a menstrual cup?
The menstrual cup has nothing to do with your menstrual pain or cramps. Experiencing pain during the first several days of your periods is normal if it doesn't interfere with your normal life. If you suffer from period cramps or if they become worse, make an appointment with your doctor to figure out the reason.
Is it ok to have some pee in a menstrual cup if I wear it every day?
If you can pee in your menstrual cup, it means that the menstrual cup is placed incorrectly or it has shifted due to some reasons. Your menstrual cup should be inserted into the vagina, and urine cannot get there.
How to convince your mother to let you use a menstrual cup?
Talk to her about all the pros and cons of menstrual cups. Explain why you want to switch to using a menstrual cup and why your current hygiene product isn’t a fit you. Before starting the conversation, collect as many facts as you can about the cups. Reassure your mom that you can use a menstrual cup if you are a virgin. Convince her that you know how to choose, insert, replace and clean a menstrual cup to make her sure that it is safe for you.
Can you use a menstrual cup together with an IUD?
It is not recommended to use a menstrual cup if you have an IUD inserted because you should remove and empty a menstrual cup every 10 to 12 hours. There is a possibility that the string of the IUD may cling to a cup while inserting or replacing it, which can lead to displacing the IUD. Consider other options like pads or tampons to use during your period if you have an IUD inserted.
Is it normal to experience pain while using a menstrual cup?
You are not supposed to feel pain while using a menstrual cup. You may feel a slight discomfort while inserting the cup for the first time. But if a cup is inserted properly and if the size of the cup fits you well, you should not feel any pain or discomfort.
Can menstrual cups cause infections?
The menstrual cup cannot cause infections whereas poor personal hygiene definitely can. Wash your hands with soap or use a sanitizer before and after inserting and removing the menstrual cup. Empty the cup at least every 10 to 12 hours to minimize the risks of infections. Some reports show that using a cup can be linked to higher risks of infections but only in women with recurrent infections history. You don’t need to lubricate the cup to insert it. Don't wash it with vinegar, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or soda and don't put it in the dishwasher because it can damage the silicone. Wash the cup with plain water or boil it for 5–10 minutes when your menstruation is over. Keep it in a cotton bag.
How reliable are menstrual cups during heavy periods?
Menstrual cups are the best choice during heavy periods. They can keep up to 41 ml of menstrual blood. On the other hand, the ultra-size tampon can absorb up to 15 to 18 ml and pads absorb around 12 ml. If your menstrual cup leaks during heavy periods, you might have inserted it improperly or picked a wrong size. Sometimes the cup can shift due to bowel or cervical movement, resulting in leakage.
Can the blood that the menstrual cup collects spill out of it?
Inserting your cup improperly or using the wrong size of the cup can cause leaks. Your cup can also leak if you have a heavy flow or if you don't empty it when needed. Bowel movements and changes in your cervical position can sometimes also shift your menstrual cup, causing it to leak.