In the last few years, menstrual cups have become a much more mainstream period tool for women.
Rebecca here today, and I’m gonna give you a good old warning right at the beginning of this post: we’re going to get real personal here! And the reason for that is what caused me to switch over from disposable period products to a reusable menstrual cup was actually hearing the real-life, nitty-gritty details from other women. So now it’s my turn to give back!
A menstrual cup is a silicone cup that’s super flexible and sits inside your vagina. It creates a vacuum seal so it traps everything and can even be worn up to 12 hours if you have a regular amount of menstrual flow. Then whenever you need to empty it, you simply remove it, dump the contents in the toilet, rinse it off, and pop it back in. It takes some getting used to, putting it in and taking it out, but once you’ve got it it’s actually really easy and quick (I actually now find it easier than using tampons)!
Today’s post is sponsored by Femallay, a really great company who’s been a long-time supporter of our blog. Here’s some information about Femallay and what they do:
Femallay is a feminine care company that’s run by women, for women. Their products are really tailored not towards what Cosmo says women should want or need, but what actually helps women enjoy life more by meeting their real needs in a way that helps the environment, their relationships, and even boosting their sexual confidence.
We love supporting other women who are working hard to make life simpler and more enjoyable for others, and Femallay really is doing just that. We’ll be talking later this month about their flavoured vaginal suppositories and how they can help your sex life, but today we want to talk about their menstrual cups!
So how do you use a menstrual cup, anyway?
Menstrual cups are used by folding the opening of the cup and inserting it into your vagina until the entire cup is inside. Then you either wiggle or rotate the cup until it opens fully and the vacuum seal is in place. You can use your finger to feel to make sure it’s fully open. To remove it, you insert a finger into your vagina up the side of the cup, break the seal, and then pinch it slightly and simply pull it out! If you break the seal properly first, it’s really quite simple to remove.
The trickiest part of using a menstrual cup is simply getting used to it. If you’ve never used one before, many people (including me!) suggest you give yourself a 3-month learning period where you’re planning on wearing a pad at the same time to catch any leaks. It often takes a few periods before you really get the hang of it, but once you’ve got it you’ve got it, no more leaks–even overnight!
Femallay actually has a really cool cup that allows you to empty it while the cup is still inside of you. There is a stopper in the stem of the cup that you simply pinch up and down to “open” or “close” the valve. Especially if you’re a woman with heavier periods who finds she has to change even a menstrual cup more frequently, this could be a fantastic option to make your periods easier to manage!
In terms of maintenance and cleaning, you simply rinse out the cup with water every time you remove it to fully dump out its contents and re-insert it. No soap needed while you’re on your period–you don’t want to be putting soap into your vagina, so just water works great. Then between periods you sanitize your cup by simply boiling it for 5 minutes, store it in a breathable cotton bag, and that’s it! It’s so simple, I find it even easier than dealing with the garbage created during a period every month.
So that’s what a menstrual cup is and how you use it, now I want to tell you 5 reasons I really like menstrual cups and think they’re a truly great option for managing your period:
1. A menstrual cup replaces your other period care items.
Listen, I’m one of those people who thinks pads feel like a diaper. I just don’t like ’em, they do not make me feel feminine and pretty like the women in the commercials seem to feel, I just always feel like I’m bulky and I hate the feeling of sitting down while I’m wearing a pad.
Menstrual cups are so much more comfortable for me because it’s all very contained. I’m not self-conscious about how I’m sitting, worrying about leaks, any of that. I can just go about my life like normal while on my period and it genuinely makes me feel much better about myself. Because the menstrual cup creates a vacuum seal, if you have it in correctly you will not leak at all. (I’ve been using one for four or five years now, I have not had any issues with leaking since the first 3 months of figuring it out.)
Even little things wiping yourself after using the washroom are easier because, again, it’s all internal and contained. No worrying about tampon strings or having having to use four times the toilet paper to clean up from the blood left from the pad (I told you this was going to be a bit personal). It really is like just using the washroom during a non-period time.
2. Menstrual cups make intimacy easier and less awkward during your period
And no, I’m not actually talking about sex (although many women who want to have sex during their periods but don’t like period sex due to blood find that menstrual cups can help because they can engage in non-penetrative sex while the cup is in and there’s no blood to worry about, so there’s that, too!).
I just mean that everyday moments of intimacy are much easier and less awkward when using a cup. Snuggling while watching a movie in bed? You’re not worried about him feeling the giant night-time pad you’ve got on or leaking on him. Getting changed? There aren’t bloody pads or tampon strings to deal with, so getting changed in front of each other or even just walking around in your underwear is more like normal. If you’re someone who’s more private about period stuff, or just bodily functions in general, menstrual cups can help you “take back” that time of the month for intimacy and closeness without the self-consciousness that many of us face with feeling just plain gross during our periods.
I know there are many couples who are really not at all bothered by period blood or seeing period products in use, but I’m just not one of those people. I’m very period positive (obviously I’m fine talking about it in public, because here we are) but to me, subjectively, being on my period feels very similar to the incontinence many of us deal with during pregnancy–I’m not embarrassed by it, I don’t mind if people know I’m on my period, but I would just rather other people not be particularly involved in it, even my husband. So I love that this allows me to feel more comfortable because self-consciousness is a real romance killer.
3. Menstrual cups can offer relief to women who struggle with painful periods
This is one of the main draws for me with menstrual cups–I am one of those unlucky women who finds the first few days of periods quite painful. And honestly, being able to just put a menstrual cup in in the morning and then not have to change it until the night is such a relief to me. I can just lie in bed, with my heating packs, and work or rest and I don’t have to get up every 3-4 hours to change out pads or tampons.
There are many anecdotes from women who found that switching to a menstrual cup helped their cramps get better, too. I did not personally find that, but I did find that not having to agitate the area as often helped me feel much more comfortable, and it makes what is a pretty unpleasant time for me a little less unpleasant.
4. Menstrual cups can remove some of the mental load of your period
One of the things that made me one of those “never-go-back” women when it comes to menstrual cups is that they just made periods so much easier and less complicated.
Genuinely, I have found that using a menstrual cup saves me mental energy when it comes to my period. I don’t have to worry about if I’m almost out of tampons, how many pads I’ve got left, if I’ve got overnight and day-time options–it’s all just one little cup in a little cotton bag. It is so much more simple, I’m never panicking because my period started and I don’t have enough supplies (maybe you are all more organized than me but yes, that happened to me a lot), and the clean up is so much easier and quicker than dealing with the garbage created from even just one period.
I’m a really scatterbrained person, so making things simple and streamlined is really important for me. And I am quite stereotypical in that I get very easily overwhelmed and frustrated due to hormone swings, so it just helps to remove any potential source of frustration by choosing an easier option–just change the cup twice a day!
Especially after having a child, I realized just how different periods are when you’re using a cup versus pads or tampons. After my traumatic delivery I had to use pads for a while when my period returned, and the first outing that we did with our son while I was on my period was, frankly, really annoying! I was really not used to the lack of spontaneity because I had to remember “Oh right, I’m on my period” rather than just being able to live life like normal on our day to the beach. I was thrilled when I had progressed enough in my recovery to be able to ditch the pads again.
5. Menstrual cups are simply far better for the environment
This is how I originally found out about menstrual cups–I was researching some zero-waste swaps to try and I found tons of recommendations for these little silicone cups to use during your period instead of pads and tampons.
It’s a no-brainer that reusable products are better for our planet than disposables. What I love about cups in particular is just how long they last–you buy one cup and it lasts you for years. I calculated that after buying my first cup I broke even with the cost within the first year easily and then every period after that was virtually free while also not contributing to landfills. That’s a major win in my book.
(Also, Femallay has some great reusable pads, too, if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option but cups aren’t what you’re looking for, but we’ll be talking about those later!)
I really think menstrual cups are a great way to handle periods.
I personally find it makes me feel more feminine, more comfortable, and less self-conscious during my period. And considering how big of a percentage of my life that includes, I’m thrilled that menstrual cups exist as an option. They make periods easier, they help the environment, and they can help women like me, who just feel generally gross on their periods, have a much more pleasant time of things.
And if you’re interested in trying one out, check out Femallay’s selection–they’ve got some great options!
Disclaimer: Shipping prices outside of the USA may be high
Have you ever tried a menstrual cup before? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Blog Contributor, Author, and Podcaster
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