How Menstrual Cups Can Make Periods So Much Easier!

by | Sep 24, 2021 | gsr | 42 comments

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

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

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Blog Contributor, Author, and Podcaster

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8. Check out Why I Didn't Rebel, or follow her on Instagram!

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42 Comments

  1. Hanna

    I second this post! I’ve been using a cup for 8 years now and I love being able to pop it in and just go about my day forgetting that I’m even on my period. (Well, at least from the second day when I don’t have period pain anymore.) As I’m someone who gets dried out from tampons and hates the sticky sweaty feeling you get with pads, the cup has improved my life significantly.

    Reply
  2. Rachel L.

    The one caveat I would say is that if you have a prolapse, it is NOT recommended that you use a menstrual cup. Because of the vacuum seal, it can make the prolapse worse, and cause additional complications.

    Outside of that, YES TO ALL THE CUPS!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Interesting because my pelvic floor physiotherapist said that even though I have prolapse from my first pregnancy, cups are super safe still provided you break the vacuum seal first before removing! I looked up what studies are saying, and they all seem to agree! But make sure if you have prolapse to ask your care provider and that they are educated in the topic!!!

      Reply
      • Ati

        Really? Thank you for this information! Loved the cups before my first pregnancy and also developed a prolapse after the birth. Maybe not all cups are the same quality though as mine felt pushed out by the bulge. I might try a different one next time!

        Reply
  3. C

    Thank you for this post!

    I switched to using a menstrual cup with a lighter pad backup (yay pad reduction at least!) about 3.5 years ago and I love it! Prior to wearing cups, I would need to wear tampons + overnight pads at night and would have to set alarms to wake up to change them so I wouldn’t have the tampon in for longer than 8 hours. NOT restful! Finding the correct fit for me has been a bit challenging but that process has been worth it to feel more confident and know that I’m being more mindful of the environment during my period.

    In addition to using a menstrual cup, I just started to add period panties as a backup or for solo use on my lightest days and I love them! The combination of the two has led me to feel comfortable, more feminine, and my movement isn’t restricted!

    My cramps haven’t lessened (that I’ve noticed yet), but my sleep has been much more sound and I wake up more refreshed- all from less period worry!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Sleep is a BIG one for me. No more alarms to change out pads or tampons. So much better.

      Reply
    • Andrea

      Do you find these are softer than Diva Cups?

      Reply
  4. Anna

    Would you recommend them for children? Age 12?

    Reply
    • Jessica

      Some brands have two different sizes, one for women who have not given birth and one for those who have.

      Reply
    • Lyndall

      There are teen cups available! I know for sure Diva Cup has one for teens, and I’m sure other brands do too.

      Reply
    • Mel

      12-year veteran cup user here! I think looking at the size of a cup can seriously shock a young girl, even though it would fit inside her. I would recommend always introducing tampons first, even of the young woman doesn’t prefer to use them, and then working up in size from there to a cup. Think about it this light: many young girls (my young self included) had no concept of what kind/size of things can fit into the vagina.

      I first saw a menstrual cup when I was 18, and had been using tampons for 5 years – I was SHOCKED to think that something that seemed so big and (ahem) firm could fit inside me. Eventually I did try it, loved it, and never went back. BUT to a virgin like 18 yr old me, the size was a whole new and shocking idea. I have been a “Diva Cup Missionary” – spreading the news about cups to all the girls I knew at college – and EVERY girl has been shocked by the size of the cup, and asked me if it REALLY fits inside. A married gal who was present at one of those moments said, “…well…it will make your wedding night less shocking.” She was 100% roght on that note in my case! 🙂 Sooo I plan on moving slowly in steps with my daughter, who is currently 5 🙂

      Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      There’s no reason a young girl starting her period couldn’t use a menstrual cup other than personal comfort levels. If you talk to your daughter about it and she’s interested, I’d recommend starting with the smallest possible size and having her practice when she’s not on her period, plus giving her some lubricant to make sure it slides in an out as easily as possible! If she’s at all nervous or squeamish or uncomfortable around periods though, I’d actually recommend starting with some reusable pads (Femallay’s got some great ones) until she’s a bit more “used to it”!

      Reply
  5. R

    Yes to menstrual cups! I’ve been using mine for five years, and I second the three-cycle adjustment period. After that, kinda life changing. Using the restroom, no mess and no string getting yucky. Going hiking and using primitive bathrooms, no changing issues. I also love that it’s less wasteful and eliminates yucky bathroom trashcans.

    Reply
  6. Allie

    I just started using a menstrual cup two months ago. It’s been a life saver! It’s easier to insert than a tampon, gives me less irritation, and I’ve experienced zero leaks! It’s a miracle!
    I chose to buy the Pixie Cup. They’re a Christian run company that donates products to girls in need with every purchase.
    I have no regrets buying a cup and I highly highly recommend it to any woman!

    Reply
  7. Heather

    Would they be a good option for those who have not had sex yet?

    Reply
    • Jessica

      If you are comfortable with a tampon, then I don’t see the difference here. I’ve seen some brands that offer a size for those who have given birth and another size for those who have – but NOT different sizes for virgins or non-virgins.

      Reply
    • Michelle

      I am wondering this as well. Possible TMI, but when I insert a tampon, I sometimes have to really wiggle it to “find my way through” my hyman’s opening, and getting bigger tampons in and out can be a little uncomfortable, I can feel it get caught on the “lip” of the hyman membrane. Seeing the size of the folded-up cup in the picture, I’ve certainly never attempted something that size, it looks intimidating. I’ve seen some brands have smaller sizes, I wonder of this one does. I would be interested mainly for trying it overnight, no more tampon plus pad for backup!

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        If you’re having troubles with tampons due to your hymen, I would highly suggest talking to a gynecologist–that might be something you want to check out! We’ve heard from many women who had similar issues and it was a super quick fix that allowed them to have pain-free sex later no problem!

        But yes, I was demonstrating with the larger size that Femallay offers, they do have smaller ones, too, but definitely all cups are larger than tampons, so I’d still talk to a doctor because no menstrual product should be difficult to insert due!

        Reply
    • Jo

      Yes, I used these for years before I ever had sex. It took a bit to get used to, because it definitely was a size up from tampons… But yeah, after the adjustment phase I loved it! I got the smaller size for women who haven’t given birth.

      Reply
    • Mel

      It can work well – I began using one before I ever had sex, but see my comment above as to the way it (the cup) was shocking in size. 🙂

      Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I started using mine before I had sex! As long as you’re comfortable inserting and removing the cup, you should be good to go! (The vagina doesn’t actually change after you’ve had sex, you don’t “stretch out” or anything, and if there’s any pain upon insertion that is actually a good reason to see a gynecologist because there should not be any pain, and is a good thing to know BEFORE having sex for the first time!)

      Reply
  8. Emma

    I never minded pads, but swapped to menstrual cups about a year ago to save money. I’m one of those oh-so-lucky women that still have to wear a light back-up pad, but even so it has really saved me money!

    One of the unexpected benefits has been being able to accurately track how much I’m bleeding. I was never able to guesstimate from pads/tampons, but having measuring lines on the cup has made that easy!

    Reply
    • Cynthia

      That ended up being really important for me! I knew my flow was heavy, but didn’t realize just how abnormally heavy it was until I noticed the measurements on my Diva Cup. I was then able to call my doctor and say “losing 8 oz during a period isn’t normal and I think that’s why I’m anemic – help!”

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        8 OZ?!?

        Oh you poor woman.

        Yes, I love that you can actually measure it, too–it’s really amazing how little many of us know about our own bodies, but I love that cups make it so much easier to track.

        Reply
  9. IUD user

    I have an IUD – will the cup loosen it or pull it out?!?

    Reply
    • Bertha

      It could. They aren’t officially recommended for IUD users, but some do use them anyway. If you try, you must break the seal before trying to remove every time. I’ve never tried with an IUD myself. If you’re interested in reusable internal options, there are also menstrual disks that are also made of silicone but don’t create a vacuum seal. They sit much higher in the vagina, just under the cervix, and some people are even able to have mess-free intercourse with one inserted. I’ve been using a cup for 13 years, but I’m seriously considering trying a disk to see how I like it.

      Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I think that sounds like an excellent question for your gynecologist!

      Reply
  10. A2bbethany

    My question is probably a very common one….is there sizing? If so how do you figure it out? I mean if you order it and its not the right size, can you send it back for a refund? Its a fairly personal item….

    Reply
    • Lyndall

      Put A Cup In It is a website all about menstrual cups, and they talk about how to find sizes that work for you. Would recommend checking them out!

      Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Typically cups come in two sizes: small (have not had kids yet) and large (have had children or have very heavy flow). The nice thing is since there’s only two sizes, if you buy one and it doesn’t fit, you’re not looking at purchasing 7 more until you find the “right fit”–you’re looking at just one more. And the cost of two cups is less than what the average woman spends on period products for a year, and they last for YEARS. So it’s typically pretty easy to figure out your size, but even if you try one and it doesn’t work, you still break even really quickly!

      Reply
    • Bertha

      There are typically two sizes: one for 30 and under AND never given birth (vaginally or c-section—apparently doesn’t matter) and the other for anyone who has given birth OR is over 30. Some brands also have a teen size, and a few women fall outside of the typical sizing but not many. Put A Cup in it also has a quiz to help decide which brand to try. Some brands do offer a refund!

      Reply
  11. EOF

    I should probably give them a try again. I tried one about 15 years ago and wasn’t thrilled with removing it. I do know that using non-disposable period supplies have nearly gotten rid of my previously debilitating cramps.

    Reply
    • Mel

      Removing it definitely had a learning curve! I’d recommend trying a cup for 4 periods before giving up completely. The brand of cup I use (Diva Cup) had really detailed instructions that specifically say like “This CANNOT disappear or get permanently stuck. Take a deep breath. You can find it!” 🙂 I literally had to say this out loud to myself the first time removing. The instructions recommended getting into the shower if having trouble, as I did the first week I used it! But after 3 periods, I was great at it, and it’s been 12 years of happy cup using 🙂

      Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I found removing it difficult for the first bit, too, until I realized I was not inserting my finger far enough in. It’s a lot easier if you truly reach the top of the cup and pinch it in to really break that seal–then I find it just slides out really easily (which is how it should feel, if there’s “pulling” or a feeling of resistance the seal likely hasn’t been broken enough!)

      Reply
  12. Wild Honey

    I’ve been using one for two years now and am never going back. It may be coincidence, but my periods are also two days shorter, now. There was definitely an adjustment period of a few months at the beginning, totally worth pushing through it.

    Yes, you can use them even if you haven’t had intercourse. (I didn’t, but know two women who have.)

    Websites of companies selling them should be able to help with sizing questions. Or you could look for a 2-pack of two different sizes, and keep one as a back-up.

    Reply
  13. Cynthia

    I appreciate never running out when I can’t get to a store!

    Reply
  14. Mel

    I’ve been using a cup for 12 years now, LOVE it, and I’ve actually discovered a new facet: it can help indicate pelvic floor weakness post-childbirth! I’ve had 2 vaginal deliveries, and after my 2nd child, my menstrual cup wouldn’t stay in well anymore. Did some research, which pointed me toward the path of healing damage to my pelvic floor. Phew! Working well again, now that my muscles are healthier.

    Reply
  15. Kristina

    This post reminded me to order a new cup…my old one just doesn’t seem to fit right since I had my last baby. Going to try a wider and shorter one. I love using a cup, but having one that pops 3/4 of the way out when you squat to pick up one kid or the other is… uncomfortable.

    Reply
  16. Kya

    I can’t remember when I started using cups, but it was close to a decade ago. Between periods, I just keep the cup in my purse (which goes everywhere with me), so I always have it when needed. Recently I got a disc, too, because my cup for some reason rides low when I work out. It doesn’t leak much, but it’s physically pretty uncomfortable. So now I just wear the disc when working out, and the problem is solved! (It is a whole separate learning curve, though!)

    Reply
  17. Malin

    I also have a cup and love it! I do sometimes leak, but only because my flow is really heavy on one or two days, so I have fabric liners as backup (also white pants at work, yay hospital! 🤦🏻‍♀️). Unlike with pads, I also feel it immediately so I know I need a bathroom right away, instead of perpetually worrying like with pads. If I’m going to be somewhere/do something where that might be impossible I’ll use a disposable pad as backup, but that’s pretty rare, I basically use one each period (overnight).

    Agree to give it a few periods to learn, at first I couldn’t imagine feeling safe with it! I was leaking like crazy, but since I figured out how to know it’s in the right place I can ignore it the entire day except the really heavy one or two.

    The odd bit is my cup came with instructions to wash with soap and water every 12 hours (& I think also boil occasionally, but I tend to ignore that.. 🤭) But I really don’t see a problem with using soap as long as it’s rinsed well – otherwise we couldn’t wash our hands with soap before changing it (which I also believe was recommended), or before inserting contacts etc.

    Reply
  18. Monica Booth

    YES to all of this! I started using a cup about five years ago and I’ll never go back. I have a Diva Cup and a Lunette, I switch them out depending on how my body is feeling on certain days. For example, some days my body prefers the Lunette because it’s firmer and opens up better, and other days the Lunette presses on my bladder and makes me feel like I have to pee, so the softer Diva Cup is better for those days. I’m interested in trying this Femallay cup with the easy-empty valve for my two heavy days. I also have some cloth panty liners that I sometimes use on my two heaviest days but I never actually leak as long as I empty first thing in the morning, lunch and bedtime. Before, I was going through a Super tampon every hour and still leaking.

    Back in high school, Diva Cup used to *discreetly* advertise by putting stickers on the bathroom mirrors lol. If only society was as open to talking about menstruation as they are today, because I would have definitely tried it if I had any idea what they were actually advertising!

    Reply
  19. Sarah

    I’m gonna be the outlier here … really hated my attempt at using a menstrual cup and three mine away after the first try (I know – not environmentally friendly!) It made me feel all scratched up and bleed – not period blood, blood like from a cut or something. I’m a 29 y/o virgin who had to have a smaller speculum at my last smear test, and I’ve always loathed tampons – they make me feel the same way I do if I’m trying to stop a nosebleed by stuffing a wad of tissue in my nose. I’m just not a fan of foreign bodies all up in there I guess, though have thought about investing in reusable pads – just need to remember to do that. Cups are great if you like them but I will say in my exp that they’re not for everyone.

    Reply

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