Time and again women have struggled to get through their menstrual periods as comfortably and as painlessly as possible. New products are constantly developed to help women do exactly that, a result of such an effort is a product called the menstrual cup. The menstrual cup has actually been around for quite some time but is not widely known.
Here’s all you need to know about the product to help you decide if you should make the switch.
A menstrual cup is type of feminine hygiene product which is usually made of medical grade silicone, shaped like a bell and is flexible. It is worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid (blood), and can be worn during the day and overnight.
Typically there are two types:
1) The first is a soft, flexible cup that is worn internally, in the natural space under the cervix and behind the pubic bone. When inserted properly, it can’t be felt. You can wear it for about 12 hours at a time, after which it is disposed and a new one is inserted. It is also the only feminine hygiene product that can be worn during sexual intercourse.
2) Other menstrual cups are bell-shaped and inserted internally to form a suction seal once inside the vagina. These are emptied, cleaned and re-inserted. The same one is used for each menstrual cycle. Both types of menstrual cups are designed to collect your menstrual flow rather than absorb it. It may take a few times inserting a menstrual cup to get it right.
•Tampons absorb 65% menstrual fluid and 35% natural moisture, creating imbalances in the moisture and pH levels of the vagina while menstrual cups don’t.
•Menstrual cups do not interfere with your healthy vaginal environment.
•A menstrual cup will not deposit fibres in your vaginal wall.
•Menstrual cups have not been associated with toxic shock syndrome.
•Menstrual cups contain no bleaches, deodorisers or absorbency gels.
•Silicon menstrual cups will not cause irritation and is suitable for women with sensitive skin, thrush, eczema or allergies.
•The smooth surface of the menstrual cup allows the mucus membranes of your vaginal wall to continue their essential cleansing and protective functions.
•The menstrual cup does not absorb your body’s natural defence mechanisms.
•The main disadvantage of menstrual cups is that cup emptying can be messy. With practice, most women will work out a suitable technique and quickly get over the “ick factor” but it definitely needs some getting used to.
•Younger girls and those who’ve never had intercourse may find it difficult to insert the cups. And, if you have an IUD in place, using a menstrual cup could pull the IUD strings and dislodge it. Ask your OB/GYN or primary care physician about his or her preferences in these instances.
•Sometimes individual anatomy can make proper use of the cup difficult. For instance, if you have fibroids or a dropped uterus, it may not fit in place properly.
•Removing the cup can sometimes present more of a learning curve. You shouldn’t pull on the stem. Instead, pinch the base and pull. The collected fluid then empties into the toilet. Rinse under tap water and reinsert.
•After each cycle, sterilizing the cup using boiling water or a sterilizing solution can be tedious, many may forget to do so or do it improperly.
Doctor by profession, ardent animal lover by choice; she finds writing to be therapeutic. She loves meeting new people, hopes to travel the world and has karaoking with Oprah on top of her bucket list. @kirtana_ponnuswamy