What are menstrual cups and how do use them?
Updated: Jan 23
This blog is here to give you all the advice you need to help you feel confident using your menstrual cup. Read some tips and tricks to give you the confidence to try one or get the hang of using the one you have.
I asked my Instagram followers what different kinds of reusable menstrual products people use and how they feel about them. The most surprising response was that many people want to take the step to use a menstrual cup. But are either too nervous to try it, or want to know what will suit them best before they go and get one.
Especially if you are new to starting your period or haven't done anything since then. Maria at Sea & Flo has offered some advice to us all about menstrual cups and their benefits. Sea & Flo are a Cornish Menstrual cycle wellness brand that seeks to provide products that are both good for you and for the planet. This is why we have collaborated on this blog and together I hope we can empower you on your next or even current period!
What are Menstrual Cups?
A menstrual cup is one of the few reusable period products currently available on the market. Simply put, a menstrual cup is a cup made from silicone or hypoallergenic material designed to sit under your cervix and catch blood.
For a while, most menstrual cups looked the same to me and actually rather large. As a 22-year-old who hasn’t had any children, I didn’t understand how they would stay in (If I am being quite frankly honest). The female anatomy is pretty stretchy and flexible, and many cups that are a standard size will work just fine.
It might make sense to take some things into consideration if you don't have one or haven't used a cup before. The height of your cervix, the flow of your period and the firmness of the cup. For example, I have heard that some people prefer to use a more flexible cup when exercising.
How long do menstrual cups last?
The usual guide for how long a menstrual cup will last is somewhere between 6 months and 10 years. If you take good care of your menstrual cup and clean it properly then it can last you for years. Obviously, it is completely up to you when you feel that it has passed its best and needs to go.
Are menstrual cups safe?
Yes, menstrual cups are perfectly safe. As long as you are shopping from a reputable business with good reviews you shouldn't need to worry. However, I am sure you have heard a horror story or two about not being able to remove a cup once it's in. Make sure you have the right size. Also, check that it has little holes around the rim to make a seal.
What to consider when choosing a menstrual cup?
How to find and measure the height of your cervix:
Your cervix is the lowest part of your uterus and is a small passageway that connects your vagina and uterus. This is where your period blood drips out of and where the menstrual cup catches it from. Your cervix position changes depending on your cycle so here is some advice by Clue on how to find the position of your cervix.
Deciding on the firmness of the cup:
People who do a lot of active exercises use tough cups because the rim is thicker. But also because the seal is more likely to pop open easier forming a good seal. However, it can press on your bladder a bit more.
Softer cups are easier to insert and suit people who are quite sensitive in these areas quite well.
If you have quite a heavy flow then like having larger absorbent capacity tampons, you can get cups that have a larger holding capacity. Some brands suggest that if you are under 30 years old and haven’t had a child then you should be using smaller cups. Sea & Flo also have mini cups which are designed for if you are under 18! So there are many options to go for depending on your flow and how recent you are in starting your period.
What are the benefits of using a menstrual cup:
Menstrual cups can help you protect from vaginal infections since they are not dry and don't disturb natural bacteria like a tampon. They are not associated with toxic shock syndrome and are free of chemical compounds used in tampons and pads to bleach or fragrance them. When inserted correctly, most women do not even feel the presence of a cup. This means you avoid the sensation of tampon string between your legs. Not only will they save you money (because they can last up to ten years) but they also save the environment!
Tips & Tricks on how to use a menstrual cup
Here are some tips and tricks to help you navigate using a menstrual cup for the first time.
1. How far does a menstrual cup need to go in?
This all depends on your cervix height, generally, it sits lower than a tampon because it has to sit under your cervix. It sits completely inside the vagina and you should not be able to feel it. You might even forget you’re on your period, it’s that comfortable.
2. Can a menstrual cup get stuck?
The most important thing to remember is your cup cannot get lost! When removing your cup relax and take your time. The more relaxed you are the easier it will be to remove. How high your cup sits depends on how high your cervix is. If you have a high cervix your cup may be slightly trickier to remove but go into a deep squat pose. This will encourage your cup to move down by lengthening your pelvic floor. Bearing down can contribute to the weakening of your pelvic floor, if you need to bear down do so gently as if passing wind.
3. How do you use a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup, which folds and inserts into the vagina, the cup expands and sits snugly inside collecting blood. You simply remove and empty as many times as you need to for the flow you have.
4. Can I have sex with my menstrual cup?
Our cup should not be worn during penetrative sexual intercourse and cannot be used as a method of contraception.
5. How do I clean my menstrual cup?
Place the cup in a pan of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Make sure the bottom of the pot is not touched, as this will damage the cup.
6. Should I be nervous trying a menstrual cup?
When making the switch to a menstrual cup is really common for people to feel nervous. The best piece of advice I can offer is to take your time and practise before your period starts.
Our menstrual cups are soft but have a firm rim, this allows them to open up easily once inserted. Take some time before your period starts to practise inserting and removing it. Put aside some time to yourself when you’re not under pressure. This way you can relax, this will help, the more stressed and tense you are the harder you will find this process.
Once you fold and insert your cup, insert your index finger up and run it around the edge of your cup. Make sure it feels smooth and circular if there is a fold in your cup still give it a gentle twist. If you are unable to get your cup to open up don’t panic just simply remove and try again. When your cup is fully open, give it a gentle tug if you feel some resistance you're good to go!
Menstrual cups can keep your period so happy and prevent you from forgetting you're on it. People have discovered that using a cup has reduced periods of cramps and pains. They hold more blood than a tampon and contain none of the harsh and toxin chemicals. Using a cup is something you do need to learn how to do but can be done easily. Sea and Flo support every single one of our customers that need our help and guidance. We live in a world that needs us to make positive changes in our environment but also for ourselves. Investing in a product that creates positivity and empowerment and absolutely zero waste feels like an important step forward for menstruating people.
Here are some useful diagrams of the sizes of cups offered by Sea & Flo.
I hope this blog has been helpful and makes you feel like you can grip your cup. I have had to figure out a lot about the female body on Google after realising my sex education in school was pretty poor. Sometimes you just don’t know who to ask or what to ask. If you feel depressed about your period, I would like to provide you with as much information and support. I'm here to talk about your hormones and what products might suit you. Feel free to drop Maria a message if you need more advice about menstrual cups! She has helped me even when I thought I had it all figured out. Let me know in the comments if you use a menstrual cup or if you will now that you have read this blog!
Blog Co-written by Georgia (Practical Green Life) and Maria (Sea &Flo).
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