Menstrual Cups: What Every Woman Should Know

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 menstrualcupsfbAfter publishing my post about how much I loved my Diva Cup I was surprised how many of you wanted more information about menstrual cups.  At the time I wasn’t prepared to answer many of the questions because I had so recently started using one myself.  Since then I have tried a few more brands and have had enough time to get very comfortable with using a cup.  Enough so that I took out my video camera and filmed myself inserting one…………………………. into a wine glass.  I hope at least a few of you were shocked for a millisecond on that one.  In all honesty using a cup can change your life for the better.  All women should know this is an option, especially teenagers who have decades of periods to look forward to.  This video will answer all of your questions about how and why menstrual cups are the greatest things since sliced bread.  If not I have some more information for you to read in this post and links to even more helpful resources.  I’m also hosting a giveaway for 1 Diva Cup and 1 Lunette Cup (and extras) at the end of the post.

There are several brands of menstrual cups on the market even beyond the five featured in the video.  I showed you the Diva Cup, Lunette Cup, Keeper Cup, Fleur Cup, and the Moon Cup, and MCUK.  Other brands to consider are Meluna (the most customizable with options for soft/med/hard and different stems), LadyCup, and Yuuki.  Another option is the Softcup that is less bell shaped.  You can find a chart comparing several of these brands at The Eco Friendly Family.

Choosing a Cup

Choosing a menstrual cup can seem as overwhelming as picking a cloth diaper system.  Unlike diapers for your baby it makes more sense to pick one to try and hope it works, then if you find it isn’t the best fit for you, use what you know about the first cup you tried and work based off of your likes and dislikes to pick the next one.  For example, I started using a Diva Cup with great success with only one complaint- it felt a TEENY bit too long and without getting a very perfect insertion I would need to remove and replace it or else I would feel the end of it- even with removing the stem.  Knowing this I looked at other cups and read reviews and experiences from other women who, with the same issue, tried a Lunette cup which is slightly shorter.  I still prefer the Diva Cup and Lunette to the Keeper cup, mostly because they are more flexible.  I haven’t tried any others just yet.  If you are wondering if your vagina is short you can reach in; if you can reach your cervix easily with a finger then you might want to try a shorter cup or possibly use a Size 1, although most women who have given birth would be best to start with a size 2.

Other factors to consider are how soft or hard the cup is.  The Keeper cup is harder which can be better for women with stronger pelvic muscles or who have not given birth.  With the Meluna you can choose from different styles that would be a softer cup, regular, or hard.  With cups averaging about $30 each most people won’t buy multiples to try so being a vigilant researcher and informed consumer as well as learning more about your own body (even your vagina and your pelvic muscles) will save you money in the long run.

Using the Cup

A cup has a learning curve but most women will get the hang of it within 2-4 cycles.  Expect to have some amusing moments in the bathroom as you transport back to the first time you used a tampon and studied the booklet showing a line drawing of a teen going “Captain Morgan” over a toilet seat.  Seeing a cup you might expect that it is too large to insert and be comfortable but remember that you will be folding it, and even though it still has a wider circumference than a tampon it isn’t by too much and it is much smaller than a vaginal ultrasound wand and *ahem* other things.  You can find several different ways to fold a cup which is handy if you try one fold and it doesn’t work, try another!

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Benefits of Using the Cup

There are so many benefits to switching to a cup.  I have my reasons, in order of importance.

Comfort- When I wear a cup I cannot tell it is there.  There are no strings, no weird cramps, and no pads that can be very uncomfortable.  I have forgotten I was on my period several times.  Some women report fewer menstrual cramps and a lighter or more regular flow after using the cup for a while.  Unlike tampons and pads, cups do not pull any moisture away with them and only hold your flow.
Less changing- I used to change tampons at least 4-6 times a day.  They just weren’t comfortable to wear any longer than that no matter how heavy my period.  I can go all day without changing my cup and usually change first thing in the morning and then before bed.  You could go an entire day of work or school without having to rummage for a tampon at the bottom of your purse in the public restroom.
Less waste- Since switching I have not purchased or wasted any more plastic packaged tampons.  No more applicators, packaging, or actual feminine products being tossed or flushed.
No more chemicals- Feminine hygiene products are exposing you to more than just cotton.
Stop the midnight Target run and save money- I haven’t had an “oh shit” moment when starting my period since using a cup because my cup is always right where I left it.  Running out of tampons and making my husband run to the store late at night is no longer an event we face.  If I only had one cup it would have paid for itself twice over since starting to use it.  Maybe even more.  You’ll need to replace your cup every few years but that is nothing like buying a box or more of disposable products each month.

 

Troubleshooting the Cup

Common problems when inserting the cup include the cup unfolding too early, the cup not unfolding when already in place, and the cup not creating a seal that can lead to leaks.  From personal experience I use a “two-handed” method to place the cup inside since my biggest problem has been the cup unfolding too early.  I hold it together with two hands, as I place it in I remove one set and keep the other on the end until far enough that I can let it open.  Twisting the cup will help if you have issues with it not unfolding and will help with your seal.  Trying new ways to fold the cup before insertion can affect how it goes in.  Each woman will find a fold that works best for them.

Other potential problems with the cup involve it sliding down which could mean the size is too small for you or that you need a softer or harder cup.  Sliding can also be a sign that you didn’t get a proper seal and it is moving down because it wasn’t placed in properly.

Leaking is also normally related to how it was placed and has little to do with your flow.  Most cups have ample room for an average flow.  On your heaviest day you might need to change an extra time or two than normal.

Getting over the ICK factor and “Owning it”

Cups admittedly involve more “face to face” time with your lady parts than tampons or pads.  Tampon applicators mean that even though you are inserting something you don’t have to touch it.  People- there are sinks.  Also, that vagina belongs to you and touching it every once in a while is OK!  You won’t go elbow deep, but you will have to go further than when using a tampon.  In reality it isn’t that far.  I just want to be real here and tell people that you will have to “go there” because everyone should know what they are getting into when switching to a cup.  There are good reasons to be familiar with your lady parts, how strong your muscles are or aren’t, and what is actually happening during your period.  You never know when this information will help you when a health issue arises.  Own it.

Where to buy?

You can find cups on websites like Amazon.com or buy from smaller businesses locally or online.  Many cloth diaper stores carry them like Kelly’s Closet, Diaper Junction, and Sweetbottoms Boutique.  I’ve included affiliate links in this paragraph only for anyone interested in making a purchase after watching such a fabulous video!  A small percentage of purchases will go back to Dirty Diaper Laundry and might just reimburse me for the 500 (okay, 5) cups I had to buy to make the video!

All products used in this video were purchased by me.  No promotional products or monetary compensation was received and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.  

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Kim Rosas began Dirty Diaper Laundry in 2009 out of a desire to help more parents understand modern cloth diapers. She lives in Florida with her husband of 5 years and her two boys. Even though none of her boys wear diapers anymore she is still just as committed to promoting them. In her spare time Kim enjoys video editing, photography, and coffee.

Latest posts by kdrosas (see all)

  • kimmycupcakes

    Today was my first time trying the diva cup. After 30 minutes of frustration I was able to insert it. I think for my first time I was able to put it in properly because I haven’t experienced any leaking. Thanks for this great article!

    • kimrosas

      If you didn’t already try wetting the cup (makes it slippier) or try a different fold method. There are many! Once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder where it has been all your life!

  • Sue Coburn

    35 years ago I used a diaphram for birth control. one time after I had used it the night before I forgot about it until the next day , It had been in about 8 hrs.,much to my surprise when I removed it I had started my period.There was no mess or surprises.After that I used the diaphram on & off during my menses.I would definately use a menstrual cup, But better than a cup I am menopausal !!

  • menstrualcup.co

    Hi, thank you Kim for this article. I thought I’d contribute by sharing the link of my website all about menstrual cups. http://menstrualcup.co. You’ll find lots of info on how to use them, why etc. There is many brands available in all shape and colors. Check it out :)

  • Rachel

    I just found out that I have to have open heart surgery and my cycle is due to start the day after but I will be in ICU unable to do much. I am horrified at the thought of a tampon leaking while in a hospital bed and wondering if a cup would be worth trying but don’t have a month or two yo get used to using one properly. Would you say it’s worth trying in those circumstances?

    • kimrosas

      I would say absolutely. You can always wear liners to be safe in case there is a learning curve type of leak. To tyr and avoid that though, watch the video I made as a follow-up here about inserting and removing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CBh6cAKapA There is a tip I use that has kept me leak free for months about pushing while inserting and then releasing those muscles one the cup is as high as you can go. This helps draw the cup up nice and high. You can also practice with it before your period starts just to see how it feels. If it feels too low you may have leaks, or if you find it isn’t sealing (try checking internally to see if the cup feels open and round or still folded, then you may want to try a different fold until you get that right. A sealed cup should pull out super easy and stay in place all day, up to 12 hours even. I hope those help and good luck with your surgery. I hope everything goes smoothly.

  • Katy

    I’m so glad that I came across your blog! I’ve been so interested in the cup but always got stuck with…who do I ask? You’ve answered all the questions I had and made me more comfortable with the idea! Thank you! Do you have a personal favorite? I’m thinking the DivaCup because it seems like the most Eco-friendly (no dyes, natural silicone, ect) but I haven’t done too much research yet so I’m not sure if all of these brands offer these natural alternatives.
    Also, I’ve just started cloth diapering (about 6 weeks now) and I love it! You’re site is my new Go To when I have questions! Ibe been so excited to let other people know about how much I love cloth diapering that I’ve started my own blog, http://www.asimplylivelylife.com .
    Thanks again!

    • kimrosas

      Hi Katy,

      Glad this post was helpful! I actually prefer the Lunette simply because the cup itself has a shirter depth than the Diva though they both work for me. Lunette just has a better fit.

  • Penny

    You can walk around naked with this thing, no troubled

  • Kendra

    I’m a vagangelist and will be referring friends to this post for info!

  • Stacie

    I won a Diva cup but I’d like to try a Lunette!

  • http://MabeWithLove.wordpress.com/ Ashley Mabe

    I’ve been using mama cloth or a cup for over two years now (almost three) and I’d never go back. They work so much better and so much more comfortable than disposable menstrual products.

  • Pegasister42

    I’ve had mine for 10-11 months, and I love love love it so much. I relate to a lot of what you said.

  • cherry2332

    What about when you sit down or like sit hunched over doesn’t it like squish the cup anf make the seal release or make it leak?

    • kimrosas

      No if your seal is correct no amount of movement such as bending, even yoga, should make it leak.


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