Menstrual Cup Pros and Cons

by Cath
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Using a menstrual cup was one of the best decisions I ever made as an adult.

It was something that had so much impact in me that I even wrote a blog post about it.

It seems a little bit drastic saying “one of the best decisions I ever made as an adult” right? But as a woman I’ve my period every month and every month having my period would stress me out.

Now that it has been 5 years since I started using it, I can’t see myself without it. Improving a week of my life every month it’s considerable, so I can say that using a menstrual cup improved my quality of life.

Having said that, I understand how intimidating the idea of a menstrual cup might be.

I spent a couple of months thinking about it before taking the plunge. There’s still taboo discussing this, “do you use a menstrual cup, you have to touch and see your blood? isn’t that gross?”, no it isn’t.

As someone who doesn’t like conflict, I’ve always refrained from putting myself too out there defending the menstrual cup. However, recently I’ve started to promote this and other things I believe in, demystifying these beliefs and talking about some of these taboos.

Not only it has helped me feel more aligned with myself, I also ended up convincing a a good friend of mine to try it out. She has bought a menstrual cup based on my recommendation and I felt very thankful for that, being able to help her in this step.

I want to help more women understand whether or not the menstrual cup is the right choice for them, so today I’m going to share the pros and cons of wearing a menstrual cup so you can decide for yourself.

Advantages of using a menstrual cup

Better for your body

Disposable tampons and pads are full of chemicals (some of them carcinogenic) that are harmful for our health.

Unfortunately there aren’t many studies made in Portugal regarding this theme but recently there has been a very interesting investigation in France that resulted in a documentary called, “Tampon, our Closest Enemy”, that I recommend you to watch.

They’ve found harmful ingredients in our body of tampons sold in France, some of them also sold in Portugal like O.B. and Tampax. In OB’s dioxins, a result of chlorine processing, and in Tampax, Halogenated organic compounds. All these substances, while in a very small amount in each of the them, have a cumulative effect for their repetitive use.

The documentary goes in more detail and I highly recommend you to watch as it has way more information that I can and have knowledge to write about here.

By using a menstrual cup, our bodies are no longer in contact with these toxic ingredients. Menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone, without BPA. The cup can be sterilized to make sure that bacteria doesn’t grow in your menstrual cup. All of this combined makes the menstrual cup better for the overall health of our vagina.

Better for the environment

I’ve talked about how these ingredients are toxic for our bodies, which means that they will eventually be a problem to the environment as well. Disposable pads and tampons are in no way recyclable, they either go to the landfill or worst, they end up in our beaches or forests. I’m sure you’ve seen at least one in your walks.

Our soil and our oceans are absorbing daily the chemicals of these feminine hygiene products. It’s sad that this is our current reality.

The menstrual cup helps reduce a little bit of this waste, not only of what ends up in the landfill but also the impact of producing them to be used just for a couple of hours. Do the math: how many pads and/or tampons you use every month? Multiply that for 12 and then again for 10. It’s a scary number isn’t it? And we’re just talking 10 years, not a lifetime.

I don’t want to disregard the impact of making a menstrual cup, because everything has an impact. However after doing the math, how can we say that the menstrual cup is not better for the environment in the long run?

More time between changes

You can use your menstrual cup up to 12h straight safely, something that it’s not recommended for tampons.

I never slept soundly with a tampon, I always got paranoid that I couldn’t oversleep because I needed to change it, now I’ve slept numerous times with my menstrual cup without any issues.

I don’t usually sleep with my cup, I prefer to use a reusable menstrual pad while sleeping. However when I travel with my friends I sleep with my cup to avoid embarrassing leaks, traveling with my period is no longer a problem.

I’m lucky to even in the days with my most flow, I can spend the entire day without emptying it. Every woman’s flow is different, you’ll have to see if you can pass the whole work day with it.

Less odor

I’m very sensitive to smells and I’ve always been super self-conscious about how I smelled during my period, probably not noticeable for other people but still made me paranoid.

Now with my cup, it just seems a regular day. When I do remove the cup there’s always a smell, sometimes more bearable sometimes less, but it ends up getting out only in the bathroom, in private.

Cheaper in the long run

Buying a menstrual cup ends up getting cheaper. Now’s the time to grab your calculator again, how much do you spend monthly in feminine hygiene products? A menstrual cup will be cheaper in the long run and I’m always fan of saving money.

“Oh no, I forgot to buy my pads/tampons”

One of the things I hated the most when I used disposable products was that time when my period arrived and I didn’t have any at my house. Now my menstrual cup is always there, doesn’t matter when my period comes. Convenient.

More connected with your body

I always found weird those pads that transform my period into a blue liquid. But having my period was always something boring to handle once a month. Now that I that I love wearing my menstrual cup, I just feel more connected with my body somehow.

Seeing my period in a little cup makes me understand my flow better, filling up a tampon or a disposable pad didn’t.

It’s incredible that now that my period is a comfortable experience rather than a disruptive one, I’m much more interested in understanding it, it’s not something bad, it’s just my body and I want to understand how it works.

Menstrual cup bag

Disadvantages of using a menstrual cup

It’s expensive

Yes, it’s cheaper in the long run but it has a significant upfront cost that not everyone can take out of their budget. When I bought mine, I could buy it without missing out on basic needs but I still hesitated a lot. My Lunette cost me 35€, many meals can be cooked with this amount of money.

I don’t feel like this is discussed as much as it should have. “Reduce your plastic buy a menstrual cup”, but the truth is buying a menstrual cup it’s for us more privileged. Having said that, I do believe that once we talk more about these alternatives, they also get more accessible to everyone.

Adjustment period

Inserting a menstrual cup has a higher learning curve than inserting a tampon.

After figuring out what is the best position of the cup in your body, inserting the cup is easy.
Until then, you’ll have to spend some time figuring out. Do watch videos and read instructions online, they will help you, but all our bodies are different and what works for me might not work for you.

It’s a matter of experimenting until you feel okay with it. You’ll know it’s correctly inserted if you don’t feel the cup. If it’s the first time you’re using a menstrual cup, just try to insert it in a high flow day as it’ll be easier to insert your menstrual cup.

Number Two

(I never thought about talking about number two online but it’s important to share with you everything that I learned in these last few years.)

Going to the bathroom with the cup can be uncomfortable. My cup never fell off while pushing but I feared that it would happen a couple of times. One thing that I have to do often is rearrange it after, because it has lowered and it’s in a position where I feel it (remember what I said above – if you’re feeling the menstrual cup it’s because it’s not in the right position).

To prevent this, you can remove the cup before hand or just hold it with your fingers to make sure it doesn’t leave the vaginal canal. Just be careful if you usually push hard to poop.

Not practical in public restrooms

It’s a little bit tricky to clean out the cup in public restrooms, you can’t wash it properly, you don’t have enough space, it’s just inconvenient. I rarely had to remove it to dump its contents in public, but in the few times that I had to do it I just empty my cup and insert it again. Once I’m in the comfort of my home, I clean it properly.

There are other alternatives to do this if you don’t want to insert it again without cleaning it as best as you can first.

You can clean it with a water bottle or use wipes specifically made to clean menstrual cups but honestly I never tried them out.

For long term flights (20h+), I don’t recommend using a menstrual cup. I tried it two times but even cleaning it in the airplane bathroom after emptying it, when you’re traveling for 32h without a chance to let it air out a little bit, it’s just gets a little bit too unhygienic for me. Perhaps here the wipes would come in handy I’ll try it out and let you know. I don’t use it on flights but I do bring my menstrual cup always with me in my travels for a worry free trip.

Maintenance

With disposables everything it’s easy, take it out and put it in the trash.

However the cup does require cleaning up after each use and sterilization before and after each cycle.

The menstrual cup is made with medical grade silicone and while it’s not prone to bacteria growth it’s very important to thoroughly clean the cup to avoid risk of infection.

This doesn’t take too long but it’s definitely a disadvantage because it requires more work.

My menstrual cup

Deciding what is the right menstrual cup for you isn’t easy, it’s something that no one can tell you. I’d recommend you to dig around to understand what kind of menstrual cup will fit you better.

The menstrual cup that I use, it’s called Lunette, made in Finland and it has such a good quality! After all these years it’s still in a very good shape. It was super easy for me to use it even though I never used a menstrual cup before Lunette. You can buy here online or in a physical store, it comes with a cute pouch to store your menstrual cup between cycles.

What else do you want to ask me? Let me know in the comment section below!

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