Ever seen one of those silicone cups & wondered what it is? Let us walk you through the basics of what a menstrual cup is and why it’s so awesome!
Even as menstrual cups skyrocket in popularity there are still millions of people who have no idea what they are, let alone how to use them. If you showed them a cup with no explanation guesses are usually some sort of funnel, a hat, or maybe a device to treat cellulite thanks to viral videos.
Since 2009 I’ve been creating resources and guides aimed to help close the knowledge gap and help both those who are familiar with cups and those who aren’t find what will work best for them, but perhaps the most important question to those uninitiated is simply, “what is it?”
So, What Is A Menstrual Cup?
Simply, menstrual cups (and menstrual discs for that matter) are internally worn period care options that collect menstrual flow rather than absorbing it. Menstrual cups are often referred to as a Diva Cup, which is actually a brand name (sort of like how tissues are often called a Kleenex).
Cups are reusable, generally bell-shaped, and made from medical grade silicone, natural latex rubber, or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer).
The cup consists of four main sections: the rim, body, base, and stem.
- The rim of the cup comes into contact with the wall of the vagina, creating a seal to keep leaks away
- The body of the cup is what holds the menstrual fluid
- The base of the cup typically has a firmness to it that helps when inserting the cup (often with added grip rings)
- And, finally, the stem is meant to help reach the cup and gently move it down for removal, if needed
Cups come in a wide array of shapes and different sizes and are an eco-friendly alternative to other period care options, like disposable tampons and pads. They are, however, a great companion to period underwear and cloth pads! Making the switch to these more sustainable products can level up your period (I sounds cheesy, but trust me on this) and will also help to keep tons of waste out of landfills.
Speaking of being reusable, due to being made with non-absorbing materials, cups don’t create the same environment that fosters bacteria and the risk of infections like TSS (toxic shock syndrome). While menstrual cups have been proven safe, proper cup washing is important and the risk of infection can never be zero with any internally worn menstrual product.
Menstrual Cups & Heavy Flow
Cups are a great choice for any flow. They can be safely worn for up to 12 hours, though that will depend on hour menstrual flow (how heavy), the cup capacity, and your body. That said, most cups hold a least 3x that of an average disposable tampon or pad, and some hold as much as 10x as much. Regardless of the cup you choose, you will almost certainly get a longer wear time than you experience with pads or tampons.
What Is The Best Menstrual Cup?
This one is a non-answer, sorry! Your needs are not the same as your bestie, me, or your neighbor, so this answer is unique to you. I’ve still got you covered, so no worries! The Cup Quiz was developed to help you find an ideal fit by taking into account your period, lifestyle, and anatomy. (We also have The Disc Quiz, for those interested in those!)
Before you take the quiz, be sure to check out our resource on how to measure your cervix (and find it). It’s not required but it will help you get a better fit the first try.
How Do You Insert a Period Cup?
Insertion can take a little practice and there is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get it, you’re set. Just be sure to head to the sink first to wash your hands & your cup (using a bit of mild soap). Clean hands are a must!
Folding Your Menstrual Cup
Yes, you read that right. While they may look large at first, cups are folded prior to insertion and they fold down to approximately the size of a super tampon and they aren’t drying, which makes them much more comfortable to insert and wear. Get all of the menstrual cup folding info you need right here!
Menstrual Cup Removal?
A common fear is that removing a period cup will be messy, but in reality it’s not bad at all. I’ve been using a cup for more than a decade and while I can’t say I’ve never gotten any menstrual blood on my hand, I can say that I’ve never had any actual mess (even when using a public bathroom). It’s not impossible, but it’s not as common as our minds might have us believe (or the occasional viral horror story).
tl;dr? What Is A Menstrual Cup: The Basics
In the age of informative videos meant to be digested on a tiny screen, while also eating a muffin at lunch break, this video isn’t fully comprehensive. I mean I’d love to expand into an hour long video to cover the health benefits, the lowered (really, nearly impossible) chance of contracting TSS when using a menstrual cup, the comfort (oh god the comfort! Why didn’t I know about these in my teens?), the convenience of not packing a box of tampons — basically all of the things that make me love the cup. So while it can’t possibly cover the complete spectrum of things a menstrual cup IS, it is a start. I hope you love it, too, and that you have a new link to share with friends when they ask you, “What is that thing?”