What is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups are reusable feminine hygiene products made of rubber or silicone. They were designed as a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads.
What are menstrual cups used for?
They’re used to catch and collect period fluid. Cups typically hold more blood than other feminine hygiene methods, and can be safely worn for longer as well.
How do menstrual cups work?
Cups are made of soft, flexible materials such as rubber and silicone. When inserted into the vagina, the cup forms a suction seal to stop period fluid leaking out.
After six to 12 hours of use, or when full, the cup is removed, emptied, cleaned and reused - making it both cost-effective and better for the environment than disposable feminine hygiene products.
What is the difference between type A and B cups?
Type A cups are smaller. They have a diameter of 40mm, a length of 65mm and hold 25ml of fluid. Type B cups, on the other hand, have a diameter of 45mm, a length of 70mm and hold 30ml of fluid. Type B cups are recommended for women who have given birth vaginally; type A ones are typically more suitable for women who have not.
How do I use a menstrual cup?
Because menstrual cups come in different sizes, it’s recommended that women see their GP before trying to use one. Finding the right size depends on a number of different factors, including:
- Length of your cervix
- How heavy your periods are
- Firmness or flexibility of the cup
- How much the cup can hold
- Pelvic floor strength
- Whether or not you’ve given birth vaginally
Once you have your cup, it’s important to remember that it may feel uncomfortable the first time you use it. In these cases, many women find it helpful to use a water-based lubricant to make the insertion smoother. Simply apply the lubricant to the rim before insertion.
When you’re ready to insert the cup, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly
- Apply the lubricant to the rim of the cup
- Fold the cup in half tightly, holding it in one hand with the rim facing up
- Insert the cup with the rim facing upwards into your vagina, sitting it a few inches below the cervix
- Rotate the cup - this will cause it to spring open and create an airtight seal, which stops leaks
How do I remove a menstrual cup?
When it’s time to remove your cup, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly
- Place your index finger and thumb into your vagina
- Pull the stem of the cup gently until you reach the base
- Pinch the base - this will release the seal
- Pull the cup down to remove it
- Empty the contents into a sink or toilet
How do I clean a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups should be emptied twice a day and washed and wiped clean before they are reused.
To clean a menstrual cup properly, follow these steps:
- Submerge the cup in boiling water for five to 10 minutes
- Remove the cup and allow it to cool down
- Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and antibacterial soap
- Wash the cup with a pH-balanced and water-based soap
- Dry the cup with a clean towel
Cups can last between six months and 10 years with proper care.
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Content last updated: 29 Dec 2021