A menstrual cup is a reusable menstrual product. It’s a small and flexible cup usually made of medical-grade silicone that you insert into your vagina to catch and collect menstrual fluid.
Depending on your flow, you can wear a cup for up to 12 hours. A menstrual cup can be used for 6 to 10 years.
How to use a menstrual cup
Most menstrual cup brands sell two sizes (small and large). To figure out the right menstrual cup size for you, you should consider the following:
Length of your cervix
Strength of your pelvic floor muscles
If you’ve given birth vaginally
Smaller menstrual cups are usually recommended for women younger than 30 years old who haven’t delivered vaginally. Larger sizes are often recommended for women who are over 30 years old, have given birth vaginally, or have a heavier flow.
Inserting the menstrual cup
Wash your hands thoroughly.
Fold the menstrual cup in any way that’s suitable for your body (some popular folds are shown below).
Insert the cup, rim up, into your vagina. It should sit a few inches below your cervix.
Once the cup is in your vagina, rotate it. It will pop open to create a seal.
Removing the menstrual cup
You can wear a menstrual cup for 6 to 12 hours, depending on your flow. If you have a heavy flow, you might have to empty it more often to avoid leaks. You can also use the cup overnight. Always remove the menstrual cup by the 12-hour mark.
To take out a menstrual cup, follow these steps:
Wash your hands.
Place your index finger and thumb into your vagina. Pull the stem of the cup gently until you can reach the base.
Pinch the base to release the seal and pull it down to remove the cup.
Once it’s out, empty the cup into the toilet.
Put the cup in boiling water for 2-3 minutes either before or after your cycle to sterilize the cup.
COMFORT: You shouldn’t be able to feel your menstrual cup if you have inserted the cup correctly. There is no wetness, no leakage and no bulky pads between your thighs. The cup makes all kinds of movements - walking, swimming, running, doing a headstand possible without falling out.
HEALTH: Using disposable sanitary pads and tampons exposes you to harmful plastics, artificial fragrances, chemicals, dioxins and bleach. We recommend you use cups made of medical-grade silicone which do not expose the wearer to health risks.
ENVIRONMENT: Disposable products take a huge toll on our environment. They are not bio-degradable and occupy landfills, clog sewers and waterways and when incinerated, release harmful dioxins and other chemicals into the air we breathe. Switching to menstrual cups keeps this waste away from our environment and helps us all live better.
SAVINGS: Disposables are a drain on your wallet month after month. A menstrual cup, on the other hand, can last you years. The cup will pay for itself within a year.
Where can I buy it?
Available on Boondh.co
INTIMINA Lily Cup
Nari Yari Cup
Available on HygieneAndYou
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it really safe to insert the cup?
Menstrual cups are generally a very safe option for period care. The majority of menstrual cups sold on the market are made of medical-grade silicone and are hypoallergenic. The risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is lower than that of tampons and there is no rash and chafing that one faces with sanitary pads.
How often do I need to empty the cup?
This is variable and depends on your flow. You can keep a menstrual cup in on normal-to-light days for as much as 10-12 hours at a stretch with no leakage and no danger to your body (like TSS with disposable tampons). But one has to learn to do a self-calibration based on one’s flow. So, during the first use, it is good to check every 4 to 6 hours, learn how much the flow is and accordingly get to know how often the cup should be emptied. One norm that has come from those who have switched from pads to cups, is that, if you had to change your napkin four times a day, you will have to empty the cup twice a day.
Does it leak when you sleep on your tummy?
Absolutely not. You can even do Sirsasana with it. Most women sportspersons use it. Swimmers use it. However, in cases where it has not been placed properly, it could leak. Women with the higher flow may need cups of higher capacity to prevent spillages.
Sometimes, I have a heavy, sudden ‘surge’. Will the cup be able to retain that or will it get full?
It should be able to retain that, but if the cup was already full, it will start to leak. Be careful when you remove the cup as it will spill. Firmer cups are suggested for heavy flow. Actually, the cup sits inside with an airtight fit in the vagina. So in case, the cup gets filled up, it will hold and not come out. But when you remove it, since it is already full, the extra fluid will spill down as you remove the cup. But certainly, from our experience, it does not leak.
I pass a lot of ‘clots’. Will the cup be able to hold that?
Cups are great for clots, can hold them very well. Ideally, you should go for firmer cups with great capacity.
I am small-built. Can I use it?
Yes, you can go for a smaller cup. Vaginal walls are very elastic and can easily accommodate the cup.
I have a very high cervix. Will I be able to ‘find’ the cup?
Even if you have a high cervix, the cup can only go a few inches deeper. The cervix has a very small hole that will never let the cup go any further. To bring the cup lower, you can squat and push it with your muscles.
I am a virgin. Can I use it?
Yes, but using the cup will stretch your hymen. It is up to an individual whether or not they should take this risk. Your hymen may have already been stretched by other physical activities like cycling, horse riding, yoga etc. Some young teenagers have used the cup all over the world.
Does it come in different sizes? How do I select the one that is right for me?
Yes, menstrual cups differ on parameters like diameter, capacity, length and firmness. You can easily measure your cervix with your fingers to determine the cup that's right for you. This HygieneAndYou page helps you decide which cup is right for you.
Is there a specific ‘way’ to insert it?
There are several ways of folding and inserting it. The most common is the “C” fold. You fold the cup and fold it once again to make a C or U and insert it into the vagina and then it pops open. You can sit on a toilet seat, or squat or stand and rest one leg on the toilet seat and insert.
What if I am not able to remove it?
Yes, this anxiety is always there the first or second time. Then it vanishes. First, squat freely and put the index finger alone and feel the tip of the cup. You will be reassured that it is still there. Then take a few deep breathes and relax. The muscles will also relax. The cup should descent a little. Then with 2 fingers gently ease out to remove the cup. While in a squat position, you can also try to bear down as you would do to pass the motion. This act of bearing down helps slide the cup down so it can be removed easily. Once you have got the grip of the cup, pinch it at the bottom to release the seal created at the time of insertion. Never make the mistake to pull it out without releasing the seal as it may lead to some discomfort and maybe injuries as well.
The blood continues to remain inside me until I empty it. Is this hygienic?
Absolutely more hygienic than the blood that has gone soaked in a pad for the same duration of time and you sitting on it for so many hours.
What about the smell?
No smell at all as the blood has not come in contact with air and bacteria. It is blood in its pure form. This is one major advantage of a cup. You feel very fresh even on heavy flow days.
Can I swim with it?
Yes, swimming & beach activities, water sports are all possible when a cup is worn correctly.
Can I have intercourse with it on?
No, you should not have intercourse with the cup. It can be painful and may push the cup deeper. And cup will not act as a birth control device, and it can not prevent the spread of STDs.
I have an ‘IUD’, can I use the cup?
Yes, you can use the cup while having an IUD, however, ensure the thread (if any) is shortened so it doesn’t get dislodged. We recommend that you consult your gynaecologist.
I am diabetic. Can I use the cup?
If diabetic people can use pads, they can definitely use the cup. In fact, it is better to use the cup and prevent rashes caused by pads. But please consult your gynaecologist or diabetologist.
What activities can I not do with the cup?
You can do everything but just don’t forget that the cup is inside and don’t forget to clear the cup :-). This is the feedback we have had, that it feels so comfortable and you just don’t realize it is a period of time that people have forgotten that they have a cup inside.
Do I have to sterilize it after each use? Or once at the end of the cycle is enough?
If you maintain proper hygiene, sterilization is not needed. However, for your satisfaction, you can sterilize it once before you start to use the cup at the onset of periods. During periods, you can use clean water to wash the cup. There is no need to even use soap as it may have harmful chemicals and any residue post-use may lead to infection. If you want to use soap, ensure it is a chemical-free and mild soap or hygiene wash. Avoid using anti-bacterial soaps as they have harsh chemicals. Please ensure you dry your cup well after you wash it and store it away at the end of your period cycle.
How do I wash it after I empty it? Should I wash with hot water?
Wash with cold water initially. Washing with hot water and soap instantly will leave the cup a little stained reddish/yellow as the blood protein precipitates in hot water & soap. First, clean thoroughly with cold or regular temp water and then go for hot water for washing or complete sterilization.
What if I am in a place where the water is not clean, how do I clean the cup?
Water needs to be clean. Please carry a bottle of water. Don’t try to wash it with dirty water and insert it. This could lead to infections.
Can I sterilize it in a pan that I use for other stuff?
Do you really want to do that? There is no ‘hygiene’ related reason for keeping a separate pan or mug if you ensure that you wash the vessel really well after each use. However, most women choose to keep a separate pan or mug to sterilize it. It is up to each individual.
Can I sterilize it in a microwave?
Yes. A menstrual cup can be sterilised in a microwave oven. Dip it in a large cupful of water and microwave it for 4-5 minutes.
Does it lose its elasticity and shape after multiple uses?
Not at all. Women have used a cup for more than 3 years old and it as good as new. Same size and shape still and it will remain that way.
When would I need to replace the cup?
Theoretically, there are no expiry dates. Manufacturers have different recommendations for when to replace the cups, but in general, they can be reused for five to 10 years or so
If it is such a good product and if has been around for such a long time, then how come so few know about it? Why has my doctor not told me about it?
Women are scared of inserting and removing. Even doctors are not aware of it because it has not gone into the medical textbooks yet. If lady doctors and nurses use it, they will be in a position to recommend it. Some doctors are worried that it may lead to infections. However, if proper care is taken infections will not happen.
Another reason could be that it might be difficult for the companies to make much profit from this product as one single menstrual cup can last a girl or woman five years or longer.
If menstrual pads are bad for my body, why are they being promoted by doctors?
Because of convenience, economics, industry behind it. Many doctors in India are not aware of other sustainable menstrual options.
How will the menstrual cup be disposed of when it is no longer usable?
It is non-biodegradable. However, since you can use it for years the relative amount of waste generated is much lesser in comparison to disposable sanitary pads.
Silicone is recyclable but does not biodegrade or decompose (certainly not in our lifetimes). It is recyclable, only where such facility exists and it applies to all products made from silicone, like baby bottle nipples and toys. To dispose of your cup, thoroughly wash the cup, cut it up into smaller pieces, and dispose of it in the trash.
Can it be used for urinary incontinence?
No, as we pee from the urethra, there is no space to place the cup for urinary incontinence. You can use cloth pads or incontinence briefs.
Can I use it in place of ‘maternity pads?
You should never use a menstrual cup to deal with postpartum bleeding. Post-delivery the vagina may be swollen and bruised. Inserting a cup at this time may be very discomforting. Secondly, the mouth of the cervix is still open and takes few weeks to return to normal shape. Infection is still a concern for weeks after you give birth. It is also unlikely that your muscles will be strong enough to keep it in place just yet. Doing pelvic floor exercises - Kegel exercises can help to increase the strength of your pelvic floor muscles to provide more support to your vagina and other pelvic organs. This can improve your ability to successfully use a cup after childbirth.
Can I use it in pre-menopausal years when the flow is high and irregular?
Certainly! In fact, it is very useful when the periods are unpredictable and heavy. It is much better than using large pads for several days in a row.
Recently there was some news on silicone implants being dangerous for health. Is a silicone cup safe for vaginal insertion?
Silicone cups are perfectly safe for use during the period. There is a lot of difference between Silicone used for breast implants and that used in a menstrual cup.
1. What is used for an implant is a silicone gel or liquid, which is enclosed in a thin plastic-based film, whereas silicone cups are made from a moulded platinum cured silicone rubber.
2. Implant silicone gel is not a cured material and is thus shapeless and can move or get squeezed, whereas silicone cups are in final cured condition and cannot degenerate unless subjected to mechanical damage or heat above 500 degrees C.
3. The film encasing of the implanted gel can fail and gel mixed with blood and other body tissue. This was the issue with the implants, whereas the cup material is inert and cannot mix with blood or any other blood cells.