What Everybody Who Gets a Period Needs to Know Before Switching to a Menstrual Cup

Ladies – and very curious men out there – have you ever wished that you could say “goodbye” to that uncomfortable pad or that invasive tampon forever?

Lucky for you, your dream can be realized with a menstrual cup, a reusable device that, when placed correctly, removes the need for traditional feminine hygiene products.

Believe it or not, menstrual cups have been around for quite a long time. Heck, you might have even spotted them years ago at the drug store on the top shelf under the tampons before you wondered aloud, “What’s THAT?”

The first form of this alternative period product was initially introduced to the American public by Leona Chalmers, an inventor and actress who, way back in 1937, filed the very first patent for a rubber latex version. After enduring years of societal backlash and rubber shortages during wartime, Chalmers was forced to shutter her company in the 1960s.

But, fortunately for us, the menstrual cup did not die that day. In fact, it has been revamped in recent years and is even in the process of undergoing a type of renaissance that’s so strong, it looks like the handy devices aren’t going anywhere.

Still confused by this period-time doodad? We promise it’s not as scary as it looks, but here are some key things you should know BEFORE you make the switch:

  1. Menstrual cups don’t absorb fluid, they collect it!

    Ever notice how tampons and pads effectively work like towels? The good ones absorb all of the mess, while the bad ones— well, let’s just say we’ve all been there! The main difference between these traditional products and cups is the fact that the cups simply collect the menstrual fluid.

    This detail might sound gory to some, but it’s actually a big plus, especially for ladies with really heavy flows, as the collecting technique allows for more leak-protection than most super-absorbant tampons. Amazing!

  2. Menstrual cups require some getting used to

    Tampon users: remember the first time you tried inserting one of those bad boys? Us, too; it probably took us at least half a year until we really “got” it.

    Now, we’d hope it wouldn’t take that long for you to perfect the menstrual cup insertion technique, but it’s definitely not something you want to go into cold. Generally, the pliable cups are inserted while folded at its rounded top. From there, the rim should gently open up right below the cervix, a mechanism that allows for leak-free blood collection. Yep, it takes a little getting used to, but practice certainly makes perfect!

  3. Menstrual cups come in different sizes

    There are a variety of different menstrual cup brands on the market and most have varying sizes included in their line, which can make for a confusing shopping process. That said, each company DOES provide a sizing chart that is based on a host of factors, such as age, weight, body type, etc., so the decision should be quite simple once the research is done.

  4. Menstrual cups are safer than the alternative

    Know how you have to change your tampon frequently throughout the day? It’s an inconvenient and expensive truth, which makes menstrual cups all the more appealing. You see, the silicone cup makes the threat of TSS almost non-existent, which means that you can leave yours inserted for a much longer time— even up to 12 hours!

  5. But menstrual cups do come with a few quirks

    As you’ve likely surmised, menstrual cups are a great choice if you’re concerned about safety or the environment – no waste involved! – but they can also be a hassle. For instance, women with heavier flows might need to change their cups several times throughout the day, which wouldn’t be an issue if they didn’t have to be properly cleaned before being reinserted.

    The cleaning instructions vary from brand to brand, but generally, you will need at least a sink to do it properly. The cups also require a heavier duty cleaning that calls for boiling water from time-to-time. It’s not as involved as it sounds, but it’s also not as simple as wrapping up a tampon or pad and throwing it in the trash. Decisions, decisions…

Now that you know all about the basics, we can’t wait to hear your take on menstrual cups! Do you wear one during your period? If so, are you satisfied with it? Do you have any tips for beginners?