Menstrual cups vs. tampons and pads

Menstrual cups vs. tampons and pads

Compared with tampons and sanitary pads, menstrual cups are:

  • reusable, which creates less waste
  • convenient, as they can stay in the vagina for longer than tampons
  • more cost effective than disposable products
  • less likely to contribute to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, according to some studies
  • potentially less likely to cause leaks once a person gets comfortable with using them

73%Trusted Source of menstrual cup users in The Lancet review wanted to continue using these products after the studies were over.

It can take more time to learn how to use menstrual cups. A person may need to try several cups before they find the right one for them.

Some people have difficulty using menstrual cups. In some cases, this is due to differences in anatomy or to conditions such as vaginismus, which causes pain when a person tries to insert items into the vagina. A gynecologist may be able to help with this issue.

People with severe vaginal injuries and those who have just given birth should not insert anything into the vagina.

Before using a menstrual cup for the first time:

  1. Find a cup that fits the body well and is neither too hard nor too soft.
  2. Sterilize the cup by adding it to a pot of clean, boiling water for 10 minutes.
  3. Alternatively, it is possible to purchase sterilization tablets, which can be useful when clean, hot water is not available.
  4. Wash the hands with soap and water.

To insert a menstrual cup:

  1. Wet the outside of the cup with water or apply water-based lubricant.
  2. Press the rim of the cup together so that it forms a straight line. Fold it in half so that the rim forms a “C” shape.
  3. Holding the cup in this shape, insert it rim-first into the vagina.
  4. Once inside, the cup should open up and form a seal around the vaginal wall. A person can test this by running their finger around the edge.

A person can wear the cup for 8–12 hours at a time. They should then empty it and rinse it out thoroughly before reinserting it again.

It is important never to wear a cup for longer than 12 hours at a time without emptying and washing it, even if it is not full.

To remove the menstrual cup:

  1. Wash the hands with soap and water.
  2. Carefully insert the fingers into the vagina and pull gently on the stem of the cup.
  3. When the bottom of the cup is within reach, pinch it to break the seal.
  4. Remove the cup and empty the contents into the toilet or sink.

After each period is over, a person should sterilize the cup again before storing it in a clean container until the next period. They should never share menstrual cups with others.

The term “virgin” describes someone who has not had penis-in-vagina sex. It is a social construct rather than a biological state.

Using a menstrual cup does not mean that a person has lost their virginity. However, these items can occasionally stretch open the hymen, which is a thin piece of tissue that some people have around their vaginal opening.

Even if a menstrual cup or tampon does stretch the hymen, this does not mean that a person is no longer a virgin.

Menstrual cups are safe to use, as long a person follows the safety guidelines. There is no evidence that they are any more dangerous than tampons.

Rarely, menstrual cups can cause pain, urinary problems, or infection. If this occurs, it is important to stop using the product and speak to a doctor or gynecologist.

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