What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a tiny, flexible cup that is meant to be put into the vaginal canal during periods and is composed of silicone or latex rubber. The menstrual cup differs from a pad or tampon in that it collects period blood rather than absorbing it, allowing you to empty it after usage.
The cup comes in three sizes: small, medium, and big, depending on the rate of blood flow, the location of the cervix, and the user's age.
Despite fears, a menstrual cup is incredibly flexible and opens up inside the vaginal canal after insertion. Once properly placed, there is no sense that something alien is stuck inside your body and experts say it's perfectly safe to use, and you can go about your day without worrying about your tampon slipping out or your pad leaking on your underwear.
Those who swear by its merits claim that there is no risk of leaking, that it is quite pleasant to use when travelling, and that it is environmentally beneficial.
How to Know Menstrual Cup is Full?
Despite what some users out there on the internet say, you can’t really tell when your cup is full. There is no alarm system that warns you of a full cup and neither is your menstrual cup evolved enough to text you of the blood level inside.
Ideally, on a heavy flow day, you should check every 3-4 hours to see how much blood is accumulating inside. Typically, a menstrual cup can hold two to eight times more than a tampon, depending on the tampon’s capacity and the size of the menstrual cup in question. When in doubt, take the cup out and check how full it is and based on how many hours it took to reach that level, you can gauge how often you need to take it out and empty it.
So, how do you know you have to empty your cup?
Since you can’t really tell when a cup is full, you have to test and see how long it takes for it to fill up on a heavy flow day. Usually, on a light flow day, you don’t have to worry about your cup getting filled, since the time till which you can keep your cup in will far outweigh the time it takes for the cup to become completely full.
Normally, you should empty your cup every 10-12 hours despite your flow. Some brands advise that 8 hours is the optimal time to take out, clean and reinsert your cup. However, research suggests that it’s quite safe to keep a cup in for 12 hours at a time. Besides, one clear indication of a full cup is one that starts to leak. But, most of us don’t want to wait long enough for that, do we?
What happens if you keep it in for more than 12 hours?
Some studies claim that leaving a cup in for more than 12 hours increases the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and other infections inside the vagina. When the blood sits still inside the cup for a long time, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause such infections.
TSS, however, has been linked to cup usage only in two cases. And both of those women had left their cup in for about a week without taking it out. Mostly, TSS is linked to tampon usage, but as a general rule of thumb, it is advisable to not leave your menstrual cup inside for longer than 12 hours to avoid any possible danger.
How do you empty a menstrual cup?
Even though it may appear scary at first, once you get to know the process, removing a menstrual cup is really quite simple.
- Get comfortable: The squat is the greatest position for easy removal. However, some people prefer to sit on the toilet or lift one leg on a surface. Choose the finest position for you and prepare for the cup to be removed.
- Take a deep breath: The second step in removing the cup properly is to relax and calm yourself. When you're agitated, your vaginal muscles constrict instinctively, making the removal procedure more difficult. To relax and settle your anxiety, take a big breath in.
- Break the seal: Insert two or three fingers (as needed) into your vaginal canal after cleaning your hands with soap and (ideally warm) water. Pull the cup towards you by tugging at it if the stem is still intact in the cup. If the stem has been removed, locate the cup's base and squeeze it at the base directly.
- Pull the cup out: Pull the cup towards you while gripping the base after breaking the vacuum seal. Hold the cup at a sideways angle for optimal results. This enables more air into the vaginal canal, making evacuation easier.
Does it leak only if it’s full?
While your cup being full is a reason why it can leak, it’s not the only reason why leaks happen and other reasons for this may include:
- Wearing a cup that’s too big or too small for you.
- The seal has not been formed inside.
- If you have an IUD, the string may come in between the rim of your cup and your vaginal wall, preventing the needed suction from forming, resulting in a leak.
- Your cup is not aligned with the cervix, where it sits outside your cup.
- Your bowel movements may alter the position of your menstrual cup.
- You have pelvic muscles that are too strong, resulting in a near-full cup having its suction released by the force of your pelvic muscles.
Do you need to let the cup fill before emptying it?
It’s never necessary to wait till your cup is full before emptying it. You can reinsert it every 3-4 hours depending on your flow and absolutely do it regardless of your cup being full if you’ve had it in for 12 hours.
Looking for a great menstrual cup to alter your period experience? Try the Carmesi Menstrual Cup that’s soft, comfortable and completely leak-proof!