And why should I make the switch?
Remember way back when you got your first period? All of a sudden you were abruptly initiated into a whole new world, where you needed to be armed and ready for Shark Week at a moment’s notice.
Back then, what was your weapon of choice? For most of us it was probably a pad or a tampon given to us by our mum (or a friend, or the school nurse). Pads and tampons are by far the most common choices for managing period flow – everyone knows what they are, the supermarket shelves are stocked full of them and they’ve been around forever. And many of us have just continued to use them because they’re what we know and understand.
But that doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for every woman. In this blog, we’re going to introduce you to a lesser-known alternative that’s better for your body, better for your wallet and better for the planet - the humble menstrual cup.
The low-down on menstrual cups – what are they, anyway?
Menstrual cups are soft, pliable, bell-shaped containers that sit snugly inside your vagina and catch your flow.
They’re usually made from medical-grade silicone (the same material good-quality sex toys are made from) which is completely body friendly, long-lasting, hygienic and easy to clean. You can read more about body-safe materials here.
Unlike single-use pads and tampons, menstrual cups are a multi-use product. They’re designed to be removed, emptied, rinsed out and reinserted, and they need to be sterilised before the next period. It’s easy to sterilise them at home (more info below) so they’re ready to rock again next month! If you look after it properly, your cup can last up to 10 years.
Research has shown menstrual cups to be a safe and sustainable option for menstruation management with no adverse affects on the vaginal flora. And unlike pads and tampons, they don’t contain synthetic plastics, bleaches, dioxins or fibres, so you can use them confidently knowing they won’t harm your body.
You might be wondering ‘if these little wonder cups are so amazing, why haven’t I heard of them?’. In a word: marketing.
Menstrual cups were first developed around the same time as tampons but tampons were marketed more aggressively and became mainstream. In Europe and the UK, menstrual cups are far better known and have been featured on supermarket shelves alongside pads and tampons for a few years now. But over here in Australia, we’re still catching on.
How do menstrual cups work?
Menstrual cups work a little differently to pads and tampons. Instead of absorbing the blood, they catch the blood in the bell-shaped cup.
For some women, especially on heavier days, this might mean you need to empty your cup a little more often than you would change a pad or a tampon which has obvious ramifications for overnight use (more on that below).
But for others, they find they need to empty their cups more infrequently than they would change a pad or tampon. On a light flow day, you can safely wear your cup for up to 12 hours. It’s all about experimentation and working out your period rhythm.
How on earth do I insert a menstrual cup?
It can take a little bit of practice to learn to insert your cup properly, so please don’t despair if you don’t get it right the first time.
To insert your menstrual cup:
- Wash and dry your hands
- Fold the upper edge of the cup into a C-shape
- Gently insert the cup into the vagina, with the folded upper edge going in first (hint: you might want to try some water-based lubricant if you’re having trouble).
- Once the cup is inserted, let the rim open slowly (it will do this on its own). Then, push the cup a little higher into the vagina, until you can’t feel it. This sensation should be similar to inserting a tampon.
I dunno. Sounds kinda messy. How do I manage my menstrual cup during the day? And how do I keep my menstrual cup clean?
When you’re ready to remove the cup, just pull it out by the little tail at the bottom, empty it out into the sink or toilet, rinse it out under the tap (or give it a wipe out with some toilet paper if you’re in a toilet stall and you don’t have access to a tap) and re-insert – easy!
And after each period, just submerge your cup in rolling boiling water for five minutes to sterilise. Once it’s dry, it’s ready for next month. That’s all you need to do.
Can I swim with a menstrual cup in? Can I play sports?
Yep and yep! In fact, many women find menstrual cups even more comfortable (and reliable) than tampons when they’re being active. The rim of the cup creates a leak-free seal in your vagina, so you won’t bleed in the pool!
Can I wear a menstrual cup overnight?
Also yep! But it’s all about experimentation and finding what works best for you.
You might want to try a larger capacity cup overnight (our menstrual cups come in sets of 2 sizes: 15ml and 20ml). And for very heavy days, you might feel more confident if you also wear a pair of period underwear overnight, just in case there’s a little bit of leakage. Every body is different.
Ok, that sounds pretty good! But can I have sex with a menstrual cup inserted?
To be honest, this is one area the little wonder cup doesn’t excel in. Penetrative sex and menstrual cups are not a good match.
If you’re planning to penetrate, just remove the cup. Or, try a stringless soft tampon.
So, you mentioned menstrual cups are better for the environment?
They're much, much better. And here's why: in 2017, around 1.9 billion women were of menstruating age globally. And those 1.9 billion women each spent approximately 65 days per year (!) having periods.
Ladies, that’s a helluva lot of single use, disposable pads and tampons going into landfill.
Pads and tampons take hundreds (literally, hundreds) of years to break down, so most of the single-use menstrual products that have ever been produced are still floating around in landfill today!
But a menstrual cup is designed to be used over the long term. Constructed from medical grade silicone, they can last for up to 10 years with proper care.
And they’re better for your wallet, too. Menstrual cups come in all different price points, but they generally cost less than a few boxes of tampons so the average cost per use is far, far lower.
What else do I need to know about menstrual cups?
Not much, except that they’re quite wonderful, and absolutely worth trying. They’re cost effective, they’re body-friendly and they’re great for the planet – what’s not to love?
But remember, it’s important to be patient with yourself when you’re learning something new. You may find it takes a bit of trial and error to get the hang of these little cuties – finding the best way to insert, knowing when they’re in the right spot, sensing when they’re full, and so on. We believe the reward is well worth the effort.
If you’re interested in trying a menstrual cup, we stock the Satisfyer range (yep, the same Satisfyer who brings you all your favourite vibrators and clitoral stimulators).
Satisfyer produces 3 different styles:
- the FEEL GOOD with a longer strap for easy removal – ideal for beginners
- the FEEL CONFIDENT with a shorter removal strap – great for swimming and sports
- and the FEEL SECURE with a fun, playful whale tail design.
All of these cups come in a set of two sizes: 15 ml for lighter days and 20 ml for heavier days and overnight.
We want all women to feel amazing about their menstruation management choices and celebrate (instead of dreading) the crimson tide.
With lots of menstrual love,
Dina G xx