We have come a long way from using cloth as pads to having disposable and eco-friendly options. But on an economic level, every month a woman spends over Rs 200 on a packet of sanitary napkins. Hence menstrual cups come in as an alternative for tampons or sanitary napkins. Unlike tampons and pads, cups collect your menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. It might seem a little gory but is preferred over pads and tampons. Also, the fact that cups do less damage to the environment and last up to 6 months to 10 years.
To learn more about menstrual cups, TC46 connected with Dr Sushma Tomar, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan. Here she explains 6 vital facts about using cups and answers popular FAQs.
Did you know?
On average a woman menstruates for about 7 – 10 years during their lifetime.
1. Menstrual cups are an alternative to popular sanitary products.
A menstrual cup is an alternative to sanitary napkins and tampons used during menses, from menarche to menopause. It is a small flexible cone-shaped cup made of silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing your flow, like a tampon or a napkin, it catches and collects it. It is very popular amongst young and working women due to its comfort. When full, you can dispose of the blood, clean the cup and reuse it. Menstrual cups and discs are alternatives to tampons and pads. Cups may be better if you don’t want to deal with the mess of a disc upon removal.
2. The correct way to use a reusable cup
Just before your period begins, sanitize your cup with boiling water. When inserting, tightly fold the menstrual cup and insert it like a tampon without an applicator. Used correctly, you shouldn’t feel any pain. It’s similar to putting a diaphragm or birth control ring in place. Just before insertion, wash your hands with soap and water. After you have inserted it, your cup will spring open, you may need to rotate and rest it against the walls of your vagina. It forms a seal to prevent leaks. The blood then simply drips into the cup. Some types of menstrual cups are disposable, but most are reusable. To remove it, you pull the stem sticking out on the bottom and pinch the base to release the seal. Then you just empty it, wash it with soap and water and replace it. At the end of your cycle, you can sterilize your cup in boiling water.
3. Always change your cup after 8-12 hours
So before inserting a cup, you should wash your hands with soap and water. Take this cup in one hand, fold it. For a smoother application, make it wet with water or water-based gel, and insert it into your vagina. The open end of the cup or rim should be towards the vagina. It should be tightly fitted so that there is no leakage. After 8 to 12 hours, you must change it; or before, depending on your amount of flow. If you are not able to remove it, sit in a squatting position, and try to take it out. If you still find difficulty in removing it, take help from your gynaecologist.
4. A menstrual cup works better and longer than compared to pads and tampons
A menstrual cup can hold up to 1 ounce of liquid, roughly twice the amount of a super-absorbent tampon or pad. It can also provide comfort on your heavy flow days. Secondly, tampons need to be changed every 4 to 8 hours, depending on the flow, but cups can stay in longer. And once you get the hang of inserting it, there’s no need to wear a backup pad or liner. Moreover, menstrual blood can start to smell when it’s exposed to air, but your cup forms an airtight seal, so there is no odour. Also, the soft, disposable ones are designed with sex in mind. Your partner can’t feel them, and there’s no blood to worry about.
The only downside to using cups is that insertion and removal are sometimes messy. Few people are allergic to rubber and feel irritation.
5. Correct size cups leads to comfortable menses
Common mistakes made by women include using the wrong size and inserting it incorrectly without proper guidance. While buying the first time, buy a smaller size, try it and then decide whether it is comfortable or not. Most cups do not cause infection unless you are allergic to the material. But you must wash your hands thoroughly before inserting the cup to avoid infections.
6. Popular FAQs Answered By Dr Tomar
- What to do when the stem is too long or feels uncomfortable?
If you are having any problem, you can learn from your Gynecologist
- After how long must one remove the cup?
You can use it for 8 to 12 hours.
- What to do when you can’t get it in?
Learn from your doctor how to insert it.
- How to know what’s my size?
The selection of cups mainly depends on the amount of bleeding. There are two sizes available in the market. So before marriage, try to use a small size, that is comfortable. Post marriage or post-delivery, use the bigger size.
- Does it hurt when inserting? Or when inside?
If it is well fitted and proper size, there will no pain or discomfort.
- What are some signs to know it’s inserted properly?
If the menstrual cup has been inserted properly, we hear a POP or suction sound that means the cup has been inserted properly. If you want it to confirm, insert a finger in the vagina and feel the rim.
- What to do when your menstrual cup gets stuck?
Grab the cup as far up as possible and pinch it. You may want to squeeze it for a few seconds to allow the seal to release. If you can’t get a hold of the cup, grab the stem and wiggle the cup back and forth a bit (don’t pull) until you’re able to grab the base.
Menstrual cups are an eco-friendly, sustainable alternative to sanitary napkins and tampons.
But if you are not ready for a menstrual cup, and yet want to be conscious of the environment you can choose a sustainable eco-friendly sanitary napkin. Shop for Evolve Essentials sanitary napkins, made with premium cotton. They are made with recyclable material, maintain pH levels and provide carefree menses. Buy Evolve Essentials at the Red Dot Shop from here.