The idea of a menstrual cup is to make your period hassle-free, yet the thought of using it might give you the jitters. At first thought, the cup may look daunting and tend to leave potential users with innumerable questions - is it safe? Will it hurt? Will you be a virgin even after its use? Are there any side effects? How exactly do you use it? And most importantly, what exactly is a menstrual cup?
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup made of silicone or latex rubber and is designed to be inserted into the vagina during periods. What differentiates it from a pad or tampon is that instead of absorbing the period blood, the menstrual cup collects it, which you can throw after use. Depending on the rate of blood flow, the position of the cervix, and the age of the user, the cup is usually available in three different sizes - small, medium, and large, and you can choose a size according to your needs.
Despite apprehensions, a menstrual cup is very flexible and after insertion, it opens up inside the vagina. Once inserted correctly, one does not feel as if something foreign is lodged inside your body. Experts say that it's quite safe to use and you can perform many activities without having the constant worry of your tampon falling out or your pad leaking. Among those who swear by its virtues say that there is no worry about leakage, it’s quite comfortable to use while travelling, and the best part is that it is environment-friendly.
What are the advantages of using menstrual cups?
Cupverting has its fair share of advantages and these can include:
- Economical - Depending on how you care for it, a cup can last you anywhere between 6 months to 10 years. This is a huge advantage from an economical point of view because you’re eliminating the recurring cost of pads and tampons.
- Gives you more flexibility - You can swim, hike or do heavy sports while wearing a menstrual cup. These activities may be impossible or inconvenient while wearing pads. And, since you can keep them in longer than a tampon and the fact that they’re less prone to leakage, it will give you more flexibility of movement.
- Longer duration - A cup can be kept in for as long as 12 hours before you need to empty it. This is more comfortable and convenient, especially if you’re outdoor. Plus, since you can keep it on much longer than a tampon (which caps at 8 hours), you can easily sleep with a menstrual cup inside without having to worry about TSS.
- Sustainable - Since you can use a menstrual cup for years without generating menstrual waste, it’s a much more sustainable period solution. And, with cups like the Carmesi Menstrual Cup that is made of biocompatible silicone, they do contribute to lesser harm to the environment.
- Fewer leakages - If a menstrual cup has been inserted properly, there are fewer chances of leakage as compared to pads and tampons.
- No rashes - Conventional pads can cause rashes while synthetic tampons may make your vagina itchy from the added fragrance and fibres that get left behind. With menstrual cups, you are protected from having an itchy period with rashes.
- Good for heavy flow - Since cups have a greater fluid holding capacity, they are great choices for people with heavy periods. They can use the product for longer without having to switch.
What are the disadvantages of using menstrual cups?
Even though the advantages are aplenty, menstrual cups can also pose a few disadvantages for many:
- Messy - A lot of people are not too comfortable getting touchy-feely with their period blood. If you’re someone who feels icky at the thought of handling your own menstrual fluid, you may take some time to warm up with the idea of a cup.
- A learning curve - If you’re not familiar with invasive products, you may face a longer learning curve with a menstrual cup. It can take some time to learn how to use one properly and this means - a few leaky periods.
- Problems in public washrooms - It can be increasingly challenging to clean up the mess left behind in a public restroom while cleaning the cup. Also, it can be quite difficult to properly clean your cup in a public washroom. Sometimes, your only option is toilet paper. If this sounds like you, make sure to clean the cup properly the first chance you get.
- Vaginal discomfort - If you have very little lubrication in your vagina when inserting the cup, it can increase friction and irritate your vagina. Also, the stem can sometimes cause chafing from sticking out, which is why some women prefer to cut the stem.
Beginner’s guide to using a menstrual cup
If you’re new to menstrual cups, here’s a quick guide on how to properly insert and remove them.
How to use Menstrual Cup
If this is at the beginning of your cycle, the first step is to put the cup in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to sterilise it. After that, you can follow the instructions below to easily insert your menstrual cup:
- Rinse - Before you start using the menstrual cup, you want to make sure it’s clean. Wash it with water or put it in lukewarm water to make sure you get all the germs out. Let it dry for a couple of minutes.
- Fold - Once your cup is ready, fold it in half along with its mouth and get ready to insert it.
- Insert - Find a comfortable position to insert the cup. This may vary from woman to woman. You can either sit on your toilet seat or remain in a squatted position. Now insert the folded cup in your vagina by parting the labia with your fingers. Once inside, gently rotate the cup while holding the stem and wait until it springs back to its original form to create an airtight seal.
Just take a deep breath, relax and proceed to follow the below steps for removal:
- Wash your hands - Before taking out your menstrual cup, wash your hands with soap and water so that you aren't touching your privates with dirty germ-laden hands and risking an infection.
- Release the cup - With your thumb and index finger, try holding to the stem of the cup. Gently rock the cup from side to side as you try to take it out. Once the suction is released between the cup and vaginal walls, you can easily pull it out.
- Dump - Once out, empty the contents of the cup. Rinse it thoroughly with water and it's ready for reuse.
- Wash the cup - Use the Carmesi Menstrual Cup Wash to give your cup a squeaky clean bath and make it completely fresh, odourless and germ-free before inserting it back again.
Menstrual Cup aftercare
Experts suggest that menstrual cups should not be kept in the vagina for more than 6-12 hours and emptying it once it reaches its capacity is the key to a leak-free period. This means, it also provides overnight protection.
To keep the cup clean, use a menstrual cup wash like the Carmesi Menstrual Cup Wash and rinse it off with lukewarm water. Once your monthly cycle is over, you need to clean the menstrual cup. Sterilization and storage of the cup for the next cycle is an equally important process. This can be done by boiling the cup in a pot of water for 3 minutes. Many doctors suggest storing your cup in a breathable cotton bag and advice against putting it in an airtight container.
Addressing Menstrual cup leakage
Sometimes, due to various reasons, you may find that your cup is leaking. A few reasons for this can be picking the wrong cup size, not inserting it properly and not having it pop open inside.
To read more in detail about why your cup can be leaking, what happens when it does and what you can do about it, read our article here.
Are there any side effects of using a menstrual cup?
The risk of infection is low when we use a cup. However, toxic shock syndrome or TSS can be a side effect if you happen to use it carelessly. TSS is caused by the accumulation of bacteria over a long period of time.
The chances of this happening increase if the cup is pushed too deep into the vagina and scrapes it, or if you keep it inserted for more than the recommended length of time. So, even though there are no side effects as such, you should be careful when using a cup.
Menstrual cup vs Sanitary pads
If you’re new to menstrual cups, you may be confused about how they compare to pads and if they’re the right choice for you. To make the decision easier, below are a list of key differences that exist between menstrual cups and pads:
- Usage - A menstrual cup is an invasive period product, which means you have to insert it into your vagina to use it, while a pad is meant to be stuck on a panty where it sits and absorbs your period blood, making it an external period product.
- Capacity - A menstrual cup has a higher capacity than a pad, which makes it a better choice for people with heavy periods.
- Duration - A cup can be kept inside for a much longer period than a pad (up to 12 hours). You need to change pads more frequently in order to have a leak-free and hygienic period.
- Flexibility - You can do much more intense activities (like swimming, hiking, heavy exercises, etc) in a cup more comfortably than while wearing a pad.
- Sustainability - A menstrual cup is a way more sustainable choice than a pad because you’re resuing it for up to 10 years. If it’s made of biocompatible silicone, then the sustainability factor increases because it will degrade faster upon dumping.
- Learning curve - It can be more difficult to learn how to use a menstrual cup than a pad, with the learning curve being… well, curvier. Some women take a few cycles to adjust and become confident when using a cup, while they can adjust to pads much faster because they’re easier to use.
- Leakage - While some studies have shown that the leakage rates for cups and pads are similar, others have found that menstrual cups have a much lesser chance of leakage when used correctly.
- Cost-effectiveness - Since you can reuse a menstrual cup for about 10 years (unless it’s the disposable kind), they are much more cost-effective. Pads, no matter how cheap they are, have a recurring cost that cannot be ignored.
- Availability - Cups are mostly accessible online and so, have a limited audience reach. Pads, on the other hand, are more widely available thanks to their presence in retail stores, dispensaries and even vending machines in a few buildings.
- Emergencies - If you get your period at unexpected places (like school, work or an outing), you may not have your menstrual cup with you. And even if you do, you may not have access to proper cleaning facilities, which can make it a difficult choice during period emergencies. Pads are more easily accessible and can be used without much health risk even in public places.
The Carmesi Menstrual Cup FAQs
Carmesi’s Menstrual Cups are soft and comfortable, made for easy insertion and use. They have been tested against cytotoxicity, sensitization and irritation, and come with FDA approval. With no dyes, perfumes, or toxic chemicals, these cups are made from 100% biocompatible medical-grade silicone. They are designed for a fuss-free and sustainable period whether you are at home, at work, or on the go.
- What are the colours and different sizes available?
The Carmesi Menstrual Cup with Pouch comes in a frosted white colour and are available in the following sizes:
Stem - 13 mm
Body height - 61 mm
Body width - 36 mm
Stem - 18 mm
Body height - 70 mm
Body width - 48 mm
Stem - 18 mm
Body height - 76 mm
Body width - 48 mm
For teenagers or those who have light flow
For those who have not given birth vaginally or have medium to heavy flow
For those who have given birth vaginally or, have an extra heavy flow
- How much does the Menstrual cup cost?
The cup retails for ₹399 on our website.
- How to choose the right menstrual cup size for you?
Looking at the size chart above, you can determine which cup size will be best suited for you. Further, your cervix height determines the size of your cup to a large extent. If you’re confused, check out our article on how to measure your cervix and what it means to have a high or low cervix.
Menstrual Cup FAQs
While comprehensive information on menstrual cups is hard to find given that many women are still navigating how to accurately use them, here are some FAQs that may answer some of your questions.
- Can you pee while using a cup?
Well, the vaginal hole and the peeing hole is different for females unlike in males. So, yes! You can pee while wearing a menstrual cup.
- Is it safe to wear the cup while having intercourse?
While it is completely safe to have sex while on your periods unless you are not grossed out by blood, it is recommended to remove the menstrual cup while having sex.
- Can you use a menstrual cup if you are a virgin?
Yes, you can. If you’re old enough to menstruate, you’re old enough to use a menstrual cup, it won't tear your hymen. The hymen myth persists even today, but research has found that the hymen is actually just made up of thin folds of tissue that typically wear away naturally as we go through adolescence. So, your virginity will still be quite intact.
- Can a menstrual cup get lost in the vagina?
This is the most common question doing the rounds on the internet. Let us assure you, it is anatomically impossible for your menstrual cup to get lost inside. This will not happen because it won’t fit up the opening of your cervix. So, stop worrying unnecessarily.
Using a menstrual cup may seem like an unnerving process at first, but with regular and careful use, these cups can become your passage to a guilt-free and smooth period.