Big Sister Advice: Menstrual Cups & What You Need to Know

Periods. Periods. Periods.

There. Now that the initial awkwardness is out of the way and everything is out in the air I want to talk to you all about something that’s actually really important. But oftentimes taboo (let’s break that taboo, yeah?).

And if you hadn’t already guessed, I’ll be acting as your internet big sister and talking about periods. Or more specifically, feminine hygiene products.

The taboo that comes with periods means that a lot of girls don’t know their options. Until a year ago I’d only ever known about pads, tampons, and panty liners and for almost 10 years I cycled through boxes upon boxes of hygiene products, and I don’t even want to begin to think about how much waste was created and how much money was wasted.

Now? I use the Diva Cup. Silly name, awesome product.

divacup

If you haven’t heard of menstrual cups, they are reusable silicone cups that you use in place of tampons.

If your instinct was to cringe – don’t worry. That was my first reaction, too. When I first heard of menstrual cups the words “dirty,” “unhygienic,” and “gross” were quick to come to mind.

In actuality, though, menstrual cups are none of those things. They are:

  • Convenient – you only have to empty them once every 12 hours or so. On my worst days I’d change a super tampon seven or eight times during a single day – that’s once every three hours!
    • For full disclosure – on heavy days you probably can’t get away with waiting 12 hours – usually I can last around eight.
  • Cost efficient – most menstrual cups are around $20 and will last you over a year if you take care of them. Assuming you keep yours for a year and a half before replacing, it will cost you a little over a dollar per period where tampons will cost you around $7 per period.
  • Eco-friendly – this is why I made the switch in the first place. Eventually I realized just how wasteful pads and tampons were and I felt guilty about producing all of that waste and researched my options. Throwing away one cup every year and a half sure beats throwing away dozens of pads and tampons every month.
  • Healthier than traditional options – unless you pay through the nose for unbleached, organic, special feminine hygiene products tampons are actually pretty bad for you. Doused in chemicals, not under FDA regulation, and they upset the pH balance of your vagina. Menstrual cups keep you balanced and healthy!

Obviously I’m a big fan of menstrual cups. Like I said, though, I definitely had my fears in the beginning so I thought I could address some of the things that caused me to hesitate before taking the plunge:

  • They are messy – Actually, there is very little mess involved. Sure, the first month or two might hold a learning curve for you, but after that you should be good! After that learning curve has passed you won’t get any period on your hand when you remove the cup, you’ll be leak free, and you’ll confidently kiss pads and tampons goodbye!
  • They are gross – I think people think this because they are reusable, but trust me when I say that they are so easy to clean. For the most part you dump everything in the toilet, and after that it’s easy to rinse anything left on off.  I also wash mine more thoroughly at night in the shower and then a deep clean between cycles.
  • They are hard to use – Like I said before, there is a bit of a learning curve, but nothing that you can’t handle. Once you get it down you can empty your cup, clean it, and reinsert it in a minute and a half tops.
  • They are uncomfortable – Like a tampon, you can’t actually feel the Diva Cup if it’s inserted correctly.

Common questions about menstrual cups:

  • Can you swim with a menstrual cup? Yes ma’am!
  • Can it hold up during sports? Yep!
  • What if I need to change it in a public restroom? If you don’t have access to a sink you can wipe it out with toilet paper, or I like to use Summer’s Eve wet wipes! BUT! because you’re good for 12 hours you should usually be able to time it around when you’ll be home.
  • Can I use it when I’m not on my period? They don’t recommend using it every day, but personally I used mine two or three days before my period is set to begin and rinse it every 12 hours. So even if it sneaks up early on me I’m prepared!
  • Do I need to wear a pantyliner with it? Until you’re a pro, I’d recommend it. I no longer need that extra security, but your first month or two you might have leaks.
  • It’s leaking! What do I do? If you can’t get a good seal, your insertion strategy might need some work. I recommend after you’ve inserted it to twist it around for 2 full cycles. This helps create the seal.
  • Does it hurt to insert? It shouldn’t – there are a lot of different folding methods. I started by using the “C-Fold” and that was uncomfortable so now I use the “Punch-Down Fold.”

Hang in there? Good! I know this is unlike what I usually write about here, but it’s important. I’ve been trying to be more environmentally conscious and also more health conscious and feminine hygiene was was one of the first places I made a change and I thought other people should know about their options.

If you have any questions at all leave them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer!

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  • Megan Wood

    It’s always so nice to find other people that have tried and use a menstrual cup. I have tried it a few times, but haven’t really gotten the hang of it yet, but I hope to soon! Still, I think they’re a great alternative to the “traditional” forms of (expensive) feminine hygiene products. I only wish more people were open to things like this that might not be the norm, but still have a lot to offer the world. (I say all this because I’m probably the only person I know that uses them). As always, thanks for the amazing and informative post!

    • I know! I wish that they were presented as an option in health classes – I hadn’t even heard of them until I started researching reusable pads. I don’t know if I could have ever gotten behind those, so I was glad to find the menstrual cups!

      • Megan Wood

        Yes! They should really be talked about more! In my opinion, it just makes sense to use menstrual cups because it’s better for the environment, cheaper in the end, and they just come with a lot less stress since they don’t have to be checked very often:)