The Menstrual Cup Alternative
There’s a lot of buzz about this eco-friendly menstrual cup alternative to pads and tampons. But what exactly is a menstrual cup?
The small, flexible cup is made of silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing your flow, like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects it.
Just before your period begins, tightly fold the menstrual cup and insert it like a tampon without an applicator. Used correctly, you shouldn’t feel it. It’s similar to putting a diaphragm or birth control ring in place.
Your cup will spring open (you may need to rotate it first) and rest against the walls of your vagina. It forms a seal to prevent leaks. The blood then simply drips into the cup.
Some types are disposable, but most are reusable. To remove it, you pull the stem sticking out the bottom and pinch the base to release the seal. Then you just empty, wash with soap and water, and replace. At the end of your cycle, you can sterilize your cup in boiling water.
Like any other product for your period, you can buy them online or over the counter at grocery and drugstores.
You can leave it in for 10 hours. Tampons need to be changed every 4 to 8 hours, depending on your flow. But cups can stay in longer, so they’re good for overnight protection. And once you get the hang of inserting it, there’s no need to wear a backup pad or liner.
It holds more. A menstrual cup can hold 1 ounce of liquid, roughly twice the amount of a super-absorbent tampon or pad. The difference can be a comfort on your heavy flow days.
You can have mess-free sex. Most silicone and rubber menstrual cups must be removed before sex. But the soft, disposable ones are designed with sex in mind. They look like a diaphragm, so they’re shaped like a dome (not like the usual bell). Your partner can’t feel them, and there’s no blood to worry about.
There’s less odor. Menstrual blood can start to smell when it’s exposed to air. But your cup forms an airtight seal.
It’s safe. Experts say it’s safer than a tampon, because it has a lower risk of toxic shock syndrome, a bacterial infection. And compared with a pad, there’s no chance of chafing or rash.