7 Facts about Menstrual Cups You Need to Know

7 Facts about Menstrual Cups You Need to Know

The chances are good that you’ve heard about menstrual cups. They’re the latest in period protection. They’ve actually been around since the mid-1900s, but women in the US are rediscovering these small silicone devices, and many consider them an eco-friendly, less expensive alternative to pads and tampons. Read on to learn some important factors to consider about menstrual cups.

They are eco-friendly.

Feminine products generate a lot of trash, so cutting back on the amount you throw away can make a big difference in your ecological footprint. Menstrual cups last three to four years.

They’re budget-friendly.

Just consider how much you spend on feminine products over the course of three to four years and compare that to about $30 for a menstrual cup.

They come in different sizes.

Most brands carry two: one for women under 30 and who have not been pregnant and another for women over 30. It’s nearly impossible for one to be too large. “They’re not very big—maybe 3 to 4 centimeters across, and they collapse,” says Jen Gunter, MD, director of pelvic pain and vulvovaginal disorders at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco.. “The vagina is built to stretch.”

They take a little practice.

They are fairly simple to insert, but “there’s a little bit of a learning curve with taking them out, just to make sure you’re not spilling,” says Gunter. You should get the hang of it after a few tries. Also, you shouldn’t feel it (like a tampon); it’s in the wrong spot if it’s uncomfortable.

They carry risks like tampons.

The warning notice for toxic shock syndrome (TSS) applies to your menstrual cup, too. TSS is rare, but it’s important to follow instructions and remove and clean it at least every 12 hours.

They’re important to clean.

You have to be sure you’re cleaning your menstrual cup correctly when you take it out. “You’re supposed to wash it with oil-free, unscented soap every 12 hours,” says Gunter. If you happen to be in a public restroom, rinse it with drinkable water or wipe it out with a tissue. Don’t use a feminine wipe because it can irritate the vagina. Wash it properly the next time you get a chance. Gunter recommends giving it an extra thorough wash or boiling it in a pot of water for five to 10 minutes at the end of each cycle.

They are sanitary.

Menstrual cups are not gross. As long as you’re taking care of it properly, they are just as sanitary as any other product.

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