Menstrual Cups 101
What is a Menstrual Cup?
A Menstrual, or Period Cup is inserted in the vagina during menstruation. Unlike tampons which absorb your flow, the cup collects it and can be safely worn for up to 12 hours. The cup is then removed, emptied, wiped or washed clean, and then re-inserted.
Are they safe?
Menstrual cups keep the pH in your lady bits optimal - helping to avoid thrush, and that awful 'drying out' feeling that can result from tampon use.
Because cups do not absorb menstrual fluid, but instead collect it, the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is tiny. There has been one suspected case of TSS, however, it is not clear if the infection was due to the cup, or a scratch that had been present on her vaginal wall. In comparison to the risk of TSS with tampons, it is not much of a concern, however, it is important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of TSS.
Here at Tricorium, we adhere to strict manufacturing practices - which ensure that the materials are safe for their intended use. Be wary of cheap knock-offs - firstly because you cannot guarantee the purity and safety of the materials, and secondly because you get what you pay for...... and who wants a leaky cup that does not stay open?
Most cups are made of either Medical Grade Silicone or Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE). Both materials are used in surgical implants and medical devices (such as catheters, IV lines, etc).
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT...
If you have found yourself with a not so efficient cup (leaking, hard to remove, uncomfortable), then it may be that you have the wrong cup for you. Don't give up just yet, your perfect cup might be just around the corner! What works for one, might not work for another. Please keep this in mind as you venture into the wonderful world of cups. To help you make the most informed decision, we have listed the 5 things that you should take into consideration before purchasing a cup.
The 5 things to consider:
Cups come in different lengths, the cup that will work best for you won't be too long or too short. To work out which length cup you need, check the height of your cervix during menstruation (see next question for 'how to check cervix')
Most cups come in 2 sizes:
- A smaller one for women who have a strong pelvic floor, generally under the age of 30, and have had no vaginal births or teens who are not sexually active.
- A larger one for women over 30, or who have given birth vaginally, or with weak pelvic floor muscles.
Is your flow light, medium or heavy? You may choose to go with a larger cup so that you do not have to empty it as often. The goal is for the cup to create a seal around the walls of your vagina when it has been inserted, this will prevent any leakages.
This is quite important. If your cup is too soft, you run the risk of it being squished by your pelvic floor muscles, risking major leakage.
As well as the material, either silicone or TPE, there are various different 'finishes' that a silicone cup can have. Some are glossy, some are matte, some are colored, some have embossing, and some are smooth.
Trimming the Stem
When you receive your cup, it will most likely have a stem. You can trim this stem if it causes any irritation.
- To insert your cup, first, fold it and then insert it into your vagina - make sure you don't let it unfold until it is high enough (usually just past the pelvic bone).
- To help you with the insertion, wet the cup first with some water (you can also use a little bit of a water-based lube).
- Once the cup has unfolded, it should form a seal in your vagina - this will ensure that it does not leak. If you feel any sensation at all, then the cup may not be high enough, remove it and try again.
Note: Try to relax your pelvic floor as you place your cup inside, just remember that 'practice makes perfect', it will take you a few cycles to get the hang of it.
How to Remove
- To remove your cup, you will need to break the suction first. Don't pull on it, but gently pull the stem until you reach the base of the cup. To break the suction, squeeze the base of the cup and then shimmy the cup gently out of your vagina. If that is not enough to break the seal, reach one finger up the side of the cup and press inwards to break the seal.
- Don't panic if you have trouble removing your cup at first. It can take some time to figure it out, the best thing to do is to relax and try again.
- If you are finding it difficult to reach the base of the cup, then bear down your pelvic floor muscles (as if you are doing a bowel movement). This will move your cup lower, making it easier to reach.
Here are a couple of tips
- Put a little water-based lubricant on your cup before you insert it.
- Some women find it helpful to practice inserting and removing the cup before their period starts (make sure you use a little water-based lube).
- Try out the different folds, find one that works for you.
- Wear a backup pad or liner when you first start using a cup, this will give you more confidence until you have learned to position it right for your anatomy.
- Do not panic if you are unable to remove it, follow these steps: Relax, reach in, bear down with pelvic floor, locate and pinch base, run finger up the side, break seal, shimmy it down, remove.
- How do I know when to empty the Menstrual cup?
There is no hard and fast rule here except that it must be emptied every 12 hours minimum. By monitoring the fullness of the cup when you first begin using it, you will quickly learn how often it needs to be emptied according to your flow. Usually, you will find that you will only need to empty it once in the morning and then again in the evening, depending on your flow.
- How do I manage in a public toilet?
Most women find that they do not need to empty the menstrual cup very often so this situation is not a common occurrence. However, if you do need to empty the menstrual cup in a public toilet simply remove and empty as usual and use toilet paper or a paper towel to wipe the cup and reinsert. Rinse the cup with water at the next convenient removal.
- Is the Menstrual cup made out of safe materials?
Our Menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone, this is a solid stable piece of silicone (with the feel of soft rubber) that cannot leak or release molecules into the body. The same silicone used to make menstrual cups is also widely used in the medical industry for internal valves and tubing as well as baby bottle teats and breast pumps.
- If menstrual cups are so good why haven't I heard of it?
Different types of menstrual cups date back to 1896 but disposable products have overshadowed them. The menstrual cup is only now starting to become more popular and widely known. This is because women are becoming more ecologically aware and are realizing how much damage disposable products are doing to the environment and their bodies. The health benefits are also starting to lead women to look for an alternative to tampons that have been linked with Toxic Shock Syndrome in recent years. This is something to share with as many women as possible; it really is a simple yet revolutionary product!
- What about Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Menstrual cups, unlike tampons, has never been linked with TSS. This serious and sometimes fatal condition has been linked to prolonged use of tampons.
Since the menstrual cup is simply receptacle and does not interfere with the natural vaginal moisture levels and self-cleansing processes it has no link with TSS. However, remember to observe the 12-hour rule.
- Does Menstrual cup leak?
A menstrual cup is a highly reliable form of sanitary protection. When inserted correctly your menstrual cup will not leak at all, in fact, most women find it is much more reliable than tampons and towels. Just as with tampons, it can take one or two periods to perfect the correct insertion technique for you but it is well worth the effort as many women find that they have no need for backup towels or panty liners, even when used at night.
- Are Menstrual cups hygienic?
A menstrual cup is made from medical grade silicone, which is easy to clean and sterilize, it can be boiled in water or highly disinfected with one of our sterilizers. Please check our accessories page for more details. Your cup only needs rinsing at least twice a day and should be sterilized at least once a day after use.
The silicone used to make menstrual cups has antibacterial properties and does not support the growth of bacteria as tampons or pads. It does not upset the acidic environment in the vagina and therefore does not increase the risk of infection and has never been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome as tampons have.
- Can Menstrual cup get stuck?
A menstrual cup cannot get stuck. It sits much lower in the vaginal canal (not high like a tampon) this makes it quick and easy to remove. If you find that is has ridden up and is difficult to reach simply bear down with your stomach muscles and pull on the stem until you can reach the base of the cup. You can then pinch the base of the cup to release the seal and remove.
- How long can I use the same Menstrual cup?
Our menstrual cups can be used for at least 5-10 years depending on care before it needs replacing. It is really up to personal preference how often you do this, some women may want to replace it every couple of years while others may be confident to use it for up to 10 years before purchasing a new cup.
- I have just started my periods can I use Menstrual cup?
Yes, is it perfectly safe to use the menstrual cup for your very first period although teenagers may find it easier to insert the cup using some water-based lubricant, to begin with.
- Can I use Menstrual cup when I have a light flow?
A menstrual cup is great for light flows, insertion and removal are easy, it is not absorbent so will not cause dryness.
- Can I leave my Menstrual cup in during sexual intercourse?
No, menstrual cups should be removed before intercourse, it sits very low inside the vaginal cavity so it would cause an obstruction. It is not a contraceptive and will not add protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
- Can I use a lubricant to insert my Menstrual cup?
Yes, water-based lubricants such as KY jelly can be used very effectively with Menstrual cup. Oil-based lubricants should be avoided as this can damage the silicone.
- I have recently had a baby, can I use Menstrual cup?
It is not recommended to use any form of internal protection for post-natal bleeding, although you can start to use menstrual cups from six weeks after giving birth.
- I have an IUD fitted can I use Menstrual cup?
Yes, you can use a menstrual cup with an IUD (coil). Be sure to position your cup correctly and have your IUD strings checked periodically by your GP.
- I have very heavy periods, is a menstrual cup suitable for me?
Menstrual cups are great for heavy period sufferers, it holds three times the amount that one tampon or pad can absorb so you can go longer between emptying. You can even measure your flow and some women find that cramps are eased when using Menstrual cup.
- Can I swim and play sports when I'm using Menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is brilliant for an active lifestyle and can be used while swimming, cycling, running, camping and traveling, along with all outdoor pursuits and sports.
- How do I know that my Menstrual cup is in the right position and is fully open?
Some women find that their cup is easier to insert but does not always open up once it's inside them. This is a simple issue to resolve; simply grasp the base of the cup and gently rotate the cup, this will make it open up and the seal will form. The base of the cup should be easy to reach, it sits just inside you much lower than a tampon and the stem should be outside your body, you will need to trim this to a length that is comfortable for you; some women even remove it altogether.
- Does Menstrual cup contain any phthalates or Bisphenol A (BPA) like some silicones and plastics do?
Menstrual cups contain no BPA or phthalates. It made of 100% medical silicone.