Menstrual cups have become a trending topic of discussion among Nepali women and girls as a useful alternative to sanitary pads. Most of the women and girls are seen sharing their ‘good’ experience of using menstrual cups on their social media platforms and in closed groups of women, making most non-users curious about this.
Here, we come to serve your curiosity and queries regarding the use, pros, and cons of menstrual cups:
What actually is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable menstrual hygiene product. It is a flexible funnel-shaped cup made of silicone or rubber that you insert in your vagina during menstruation to collect the period fluid. Menstrual cups are considered an eco-friendly alternative to sanitary pads and tampons.
How to use a menstrual cup?
If you want to use a menstrual cup, it is better to consult your gynaecologist in order to find the right fit. You can buy a menstrual cup of any brand and they are available both in online and physical stores nowadays in Nepal.
Your age, length of the cervix, period flow, whether you have given birth naturally (vaginally), the strength of pelvic floor muscles, and cup flexibility and capacity are basically considered by the gynaecologist to find out the perfect cup size for you.
After finding the right fit, follow the following steps:
- Before inserting it, wash your hands properly. It is always better to grease or lubricate the rim with water or lubricant. This will make the insertion much easier. Now, fold the cup in half, tightly, with the rim facing up while holding it in one hand.
- Then, insert the cup into your vagina with the rim up like you put a tampon. Reach a few inches below the cervix and once the cup is inside your vagina, rotate it and it will spring open. This will create an airtight seal.
- You can take out your cup when it becomes full. You can wear it for up to 12 hours depending on your period flow.
- In order to take it out, you need to wash your hands thoroughly. Then, you need to push the cup down using pelvic muscles in a squat or sit position using index finger and thumb. Then, grab the stem and pull it to base and pinch the base. This will break the seal, after which angle the cup slightly back to prevent spilling.
- After taking it out, empty the cup into the toilet or sink. Rinse the cup properly and wipe it clean before reusing it.
So what are the advantages?
Using menstrual cups has some advantages over sanitary pads. Some key advantages are:
1. Is comparatively affordable
Unlike pads and tampons, which you have to buy continually, you pay only once for a menstrual cup as it is reusable. The price of a menstrual cup made in Nepal ranges between Rs 800 and Rs 2,200as of now.
2. Holds more period fluid
A menstrual cup can collect more blood than any sanitary pad or tampon. A menstrual cup can hold period fluid up to twice the amount of a standard pad or tampon. It can be best for heavy-flow days and also for overnight protection.
3. Is safer
A menstrual cup does not absorb menstrual flow, instead catches and collects the period fluid. Therefore, those using menstrual cups do not have the risk of having TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), a kind of rare bacterial infection.
5. Stays longer
As per the recommendation of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you need to change your pad or tampon every four to eight hours, depending on your flow and the type of pad used. But, that is not the case with menstrual cups. You can go up to 12 hours with it.
6. Can have sex
You can have mess-free sex by using a soft disposable menstrual cup without worrying about the period fluid. This type of menstrual cup looks like a diaphragm and your partner cannot feel it while getting intimate. However, one needs to remove the reusable menstrual cup made up of rubber and silicon before sex.
Besides these advantages, one can also wear a menstrual cup with an intrauterine device (IUD) as confirmed by a study. Also, one needs not to worry about odour wafting out during this period.
Are there any disadvantages too?
Yes, there are a few. A menstrual cup can:
1. Be difficult to insert or remove
Inserting and removing a menstrual cup can be tough, especially for those who are using it for the first time or young girls, or those who have never had sex or given birth. You may also face difficulty getting the right fold while inserting a cup into the vagina or pulling the cup down and out.
2. Be difficult to find the perfect fit
As menstrual cups come in different sizes, you need to choose the right one depending on your flow, age, or whether you have sex or have a child. And, choosing the right fit can be full of trial and error and challenging. But, one can also consult with their gynaecologist for finding the perfect fit.
3. Be messy sometimes
Removal of the menstrual cup and emptying it can be messy sometimes. As it is tricky and requires a bit of practice to remove the cup, one may spill the collected fluid, creating a mess. In addition, sometimes you may be in a place that makes it tough or even embarrassing to remove a menstrual cup.
4. Irritate vagina or cause infection
If the menstrual cup is not cleaned and sanitised carefully or lubricated well before insertion, it may cause vaginal irritation and discomfort. Also, one may be allergic to the material used.