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What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product that is used during your period. Made from flexible medical grade silicone, menstrual cups are usually shaped like a bell with a small stem. Instead of absorbing your flow like a tampon or sanitary towel, it catches and collects it inside your vagina. Menstrual cups have become popular in recent years as an eco-friendly, vegan friendly and organic alternative to other feminine hygiene products.
How does a menstrual cup work?
A menstrual cup works by resting against your vagina walls and creating a seal to catch your period in the small, flexible cup. If correctly inserted, it shouldn't leak or cause any discomfort – just like a tampon you should not feel it and be able to continue your usual activities. Some cups also have a measurement gauge along the side so you can get used to how frequently you need to empty it to suit your natural cycle.
Popular brands of menstrual cups include the Mooncup, The Tulip Cup, Ruby Cup and The DivaCup. The DivaCup, available from LloydsPharmacy in two sizes, can be worn confidently overnight, during exercise and travelling, without worrying about accidents. The convenient reusable cup is made from 100% silicone and free from latex, dyes, rubber, plastic or BPA.
How do you use a menstrual cup?
You insert a menstrual cup by tightly folding it and inserting like a tampon without an applicator. It will then open back up to create a seal against your vagina walls. There are various folding techniques for insertion but the most common folds are the letter C shape or the “punch down.” The punch down is where you press down the edge of the cup and pinch together; it will then re-open once inserted.
A menstrual cup can be used at any stage of your period, whatever your flow that day. Unlike tampons and pads, you don’t need to change cups for different levels of absorbency. They come in different sizes, as well as for pre or post pregnancy, to accommodate your body’s changes.
Many women are beginning to transition to the menstrual cup they are eco-friendly and eliminate the expense of purchasing disposable products for various stages of a period. One cup is reusable for up to approximately five years making it a great to save money and the environment. They often come with a discreet case or pouch to keep your menstrual cup safe and clean when not in use.
How long can you keep a menstrual cup in?
You can keep a menstrual cup in for up to 12 hours, with most holding around 28g of fluid. This is more than the average tampon, which can hold around 6-9g of menstrual fluid. Some cups also have measurement markers along the side, meaning you can keep track of your flow if you are interested in doing so.
It is recommended that you rinse out your cup on each use, and regularly clean with PH balanced intimate wash, such as Diva Wash. Many women develop their own personal techniques for keeping their menstrual cup clean in public bathrooms, such as opting for cubicles with sinks or keeping PH wipes on hand. As you can leave it in for 12 hours, you should be able to comfortably wear your cup for most of the day and clean at home.
How do you remove a menstrual cup?
The menstrual cup stays secure because the rim creates a suction effect against the walls of your vagina. To remove your cup, you must not pull firmly on the stem as this could damage the stem and possibly cause harm to you. With the stem as a guide, lightly pinch the cup to break the suction before removing. After a few uses, you may develop a technique to remove your cup comfortably, such as gently twisting or tipping one side of the cup.
Can you get toxic shock syndrome (TSS) using a menstrual cup?
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing dangerous toxins. It is a rare but life threatening syndrome which has been linked to tampons that have been in the body too long. As the cup is made from chemical-free materials and can be left in longer than a tampon, the risk is decreased. However you must still ensure you aren’t leaving the cup in for longer than 12 hours and keep it clean before re-inserting.
You need to empty your menstrual cup every 12 hours, which is longer than tampons. Depending on your flow, you may get in the habit of emptying your cup earlier. It is always better to change it more frequently than not enough. You can also sleep in your menstrual cup if you ensure you empty it before you go to bed and sleep less than 12 hours.
Yes, you can go to the toilet as usual when you have a menstrual cup in and do not necessarily have to empty it every time.
Yes, the menstrual cup acts just like a tampon and is fine to keep in whilst you swim. To ensure cleanliness, ensure you empty your cup before and after swimming.