What Menstrual Cups Are Really Like with The Vagina Blog, Vicious Cycle, Fem Support, and Poculum
Menstrual cups are more popular now than ever. But what are they and do they actually work? Menstrual cups are a type of menstrual product that replaces tampons or pads. It’s a silicon cup that is folded and inserted into the vagina. Much like a tampon, it collects blood internally. Unlike a tampon, it can collect blood for up to 12 hours, depending on your flow. Menstrual cups may seem intimidating, but are they worth a try? What are other tampon alternatives? I asked 4 Period Bloggers all about their experience with menstrual cups.
Co-host of Vicious Cycle, a podcast about “periods and the people who get them”, Meg Trowbridge tried to make a menstrual cup work, but faced some difficulties. She says, “I love the IDEA of the cup, but have finally figured out that I’m using the wrong size.” Meg began using a cup because, “my sister is a big advocate for menstrual cups, and DivaCups specifically. So, for my 30th birthday, she bought me the DivaCup I currently use. I had wanted to try cups for a while because of the waste made by tampons and pads, and the ease of knowing you always have what you need (instead of living in fear that you only have a light tampon when you need a Super…). I really tried to make the DivaCup work, because I was committed to throwing out tampons for good, but I found it hard to insert, and never really felt comfortable with it in. It dawned on me that it probably wasn’t ALL cups that are uncomfortable, but the fact that I have model B (for women 30+ or who have had children). So, I’m on a mission to find a smaller cup that might be cheaper than the DivaCup, or finally purchase a model A.” Another reason the DivaCup didn’t work for Meg was that a cup is trickier to insert and remove than a tampon. Unlike a tampon, a cup must be folded and then inserted into the vagina with your fingers. Meg tells an uncomfortable story about using her cup: “One time, I needed to empty my cup in a gender neutral public restroom where the sinks are all shared. After removing and emptying my cup into the toilet, I froze and thought, Oh… I can’t really rinse my cup… and for me that was weird. To empty the cup as best I could… and then reinsert it while it’s kinda bloody… (TMI?!).” Nevertheless there were some advantages for Meg, like “No more emergency runs to the pharmacy to buy a box of tampons after realizing you’ve run out… and are currently bleeding.”
April Davis from The Vagina Blog also uses an interesting tampon alternative. Her “first experience with anything like a cup, was trying Soft Cups.” Soft Cups are a type of menstrual disc, a disposable, flexible cup meant to be worn internally. April says, “I found them up on a corner shelf in Walmart one day and was intrigued. I had roommates at the time, and they were horrified that I would even try such a thing and I couldn’t believe I couldn’t feel a disc inside of me because they seemed so large! It took me a couple years of using them on and off before I became 100% converted because everyone I knew used tampons. Now I could never go back!” For her, advantages include: “You can wear them for 12 hours. You can have sex with a disc in. [But you can’t have sex with a typical menstrual cup in!] No risk of toxic shock syndrome. [A recent study shows this may not be true.] No scratchiness. No peeing on your string accidentally. No wiping and accidentally pulling on your string. And they are so easy!” She warns those considering using a menstrual disk that “there is an initial learning curve.” Like Meg, she agrees that “public restrooms are a little trickier.” April has tried out a menstrual cup before ad she says, “If I had to choose a cup, I really like the Selena Cup [pictured on the left].” You can read about April’s experience with a Selena Cup on her blog.
Lilly from Fem Support is yet to try a menstrual cup. She’s worried a cup might fall out, leak, or be placed incorrectly. Nevertheless, she knows that cups are cheaper in the long run and better for the environment.
Stina Kaden tried a menstrual cup because, as an environmental studies student, she cares about the environment. Stina is a part of Poculum, a student project dedicated to establishing menstrual cups in Bangladesh. She uses a Divine Cup in size small. She says, “After getting used to it, I had no troubles at all. I love this cup!” She goes on: “It is a lot cheaper to use a menstrual cup and I’d say better for your well-being, too. They don’t contain questionable substance.” She also likes how menstrual cups don’t limit your activity. She writes, “Swimming with a cup is the best thing ever! You don’t have to worry that strings can be seen nor do you have to empty the cup straight after you come out due to the vacuum the cup creates.” As for disadvantages of using menstrual cups, Stina says there are very few. However one concern may be that “it’s not convenient to empty the cup in a public toilet.” However, she advises that “you plan ahead and avoid this scenario. Of course it takes some time getting used to the cup but it’s actually not that complicated.”
Personally, I don’t think menstrual cups are for me. I love that you can use them again and again. I think it’s so convenient that you don’t have to change a cup for many hours and that there’s no risk of toxic shock. I’ve even notices that my cramps are less painful when I use a cup. However, my MeLuna Cup always seems to leak, no matter what I try. I agree with Meg in that I find removal uncomfortable and messy. I’m glad I tried it out, though! I’d love to look into other reusable menstrual products. Leave your suggestions in the comments!
So, would you be willing to try a menstrual cup? Are the disadvantages worth it? Stina suggests, “Do it! Cups make the period so much easier to handle. You might feel excited/a bit uncomfortable because it is something new but you’ll get there in no time.”