For a few years now, I have wanted to try menstrual cups because I liked the concept of NO DISPOSING. They are reusable, durable for around 5-7 years and, therefore, environment-friendly. The idea of not having to buy sanitary pads every month was a plus point for me. But, after using pads all my life, I was pretty hesitant to switch to menstrual cups as I didn’t know how to wear one, how to handle it during travel and how it would perform. Of course, the latter being the biggest concern of all.
So, while these lockdowns opened doors to many opportunities, I finally took the plunge and decided to try a menstrual cup while we were all stuck at home. In case you have also been wanting to try one, this is the best time. Or you could just avoid making any outdoor plans during the red days, and give it a shot.
Generally, a good brand will make their cups out of medical grade silicone, which is flexible and washable. It does not absorb the menstrual fluid but merely collects it, making it more hygienic than wearing sanitary pads.
The topmost part is called the ‘rim’. This will also include tiny holes to release the suction. The middle part or the cup is called the ‘body’. Measurement levels are mentioned on it, so, you can keep track of your flow each day. Under the base of the cup you will find a ‘knob’ or ‘stem’ that you will hold to pull the cup out. Some cups have a knob/stem with round tips in order to make pulling out even easier.
When I went online to choose a cup, I was baffled. It asked for my size and really, who knows our sizes down there? I looked up a couple of videos on YouTube and decided to try one. So, in general, a ‘Small’ size (that collects up to 16ml) would be comfortable for young sexually inactive teenagers with a low flow. A ‘Medium’ size (that collects up to 21 – 25ml) would be worn by those who are married and sexually active with a medium flow. Older women or someone with a heavy flow could try out a ‘Large’ size (that collects up to 26 – 28ml). But, all said and done, this is definitely trial and error before you find the right one for you. So, honestly, it may take you around 3 to 4 menstrual cycles to get used to wearing a cup.
Firstly, you have to make up your mind about trying it yourself. You can insert and remove the cup while standing or squatting (or whichever other position you find comfortable). Press the cup to flatten the rim and body and then fold it in half. Insert it into the vagina and allow it to pop open inside you. Don’t give up very easily. It may take you some time initially, but soon, you will be doing this in a matter of seconds. You will experience discomfort in the beginning, but once you wear it right, you should not be able to feel the cup at all.
To remove it, hold the knob/stem and pull it out gently and pour the contents of the cup into an appropriate place. It could get messy, so make sure you have water and a dry cloth with you.
A good menstrual cup will allow usage for about 12 hours at a stretch, without emptying. But, it all depends on your flow. Initially, you may want to check and empty every 4 to 8 hours as everyone’s body is different. During your menstrual cycle, you can quickly wash the cup with warm water and dry it before inserting it again.
After your cycle, you can either sterilize it by boiling it in water for around 5 – 8 minutes or use 5 – 6 drops of a natural menstrual cup wash and rub gently all over before rinsing it off with water. After drying it, you can store it in the pouch that comes along with it. Avoid storing it in a plastic or airtight container.
Once you are comfortable with the shift from tampons/pads to menstrual cups, you can use the cups while you’re sleeping, swimming or doing any other sports activity.
*Immediately after delivery, miscarriage or abortion
*For urine collection
*In case of medical concerns, adverse effects and unbearable discomfort
When you have finally thought this through and bought your first menstrual cup, try it along with a sanitary pad to avoid staining your clothing; especially while travelling to avoid embarrassing situations. Once you are ready, happy and relaxed with the cup, you can keep your sanitary pads for emergency cases only.
Some of us have excessive vaginal discharge, irritation or itching. This in turn could lead to pH imbalances making the intimate area prone to bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Whether you are using sanitary pads, tampons or menstrual cups, your intimate hygiene is most important. So, here are some vaginal hygiene tips that every woman should keep in mind:
*Make sure your undergarments are always dry.
*Avoid douching or using soap and scented products on the vagina.
*Clean and dry your vagina after urination, intercourse or changing pads/tampons/emptying cups.
*Use a chemical free intimate wash once a day or as advised by your physician.
*While travelling, you can use natural intimate wipes to feel clean and fresh.
If you find this article useful and informative, do share it with friends and family to spread awareness about menstrual cups and intimate hygiene. Also, let’s reduce the medical waste in our country and slowly heal the world around us. Together we can surely make this a safer place to live in.
Have you tried menstrual cups? What are your views on it?