The Menstrual Cup
The menstrual cup is a small, bell-shaped cup usually made of medical-grade silicone that is inserted and worn inside the vagina during the menstrual cycle to catch and collect menstrual blood.
Depending upon her flow, the woman removes the cup every 6-12 hours, empties the blood into the toilet, washes the cup and reinserts it into her vagina. One cup is all a woman needs and it can last her upto 10 years.
The cup is the closest thing you'll come to forgetting about your periods. When worn correctly, the cup feels non-existent. There is no wetness, no leakage, no bulky pads between your thighs. The cup becomes a part of you which makes all kinds of movements - walking, swimming, running, doing a headstand, sleeping with your legs thrown over a pillow - natural. It's like you are not on your period.
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.
Using disposable sanitary pads exposes you and your most-sensitive parts 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.
Disposable sanitary pads take a huge toll on our environment. They are not bio-degradeable. They occupy landfills, clog sewers and waterways and when incinerated, release harmful dioxins and other unpleasant chemicals into the air we breathe. Switching to menstrual cups keeps this waste away from our environment and helps us all live better.
Where to buy
Available on Shecup.com, Shycart.com, Ecofemme and HygieneAndYou.
Available on Amazon and HygieneAndYou.
Available on Amazon and HygieneAndYou.
Available on SochGreen, Amazon and HygieneAndYou.
Available on Rusticart.in HygieneAndYou and Amazon.
Available on Stonesoup.in, HygieneAndYou and Flipkart.
Available on HygieneAndYou, Amazon and Snapdeal.
Available on Boondh.co
Available on SilkyCup.com, Amazon and Shopclues.
INTIMINA Lily Cup
Available on HygieneAndYou and Shopclues.
Nari Yari Cup
Available on HygieneAndYou and https://www.facebook.com/nariyariindia/
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 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 air tight 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 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. There are young teenagers who 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 “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 yourself. The muscles will also relax. The cup should descent a little. Then with 2 fingers gently ease out to remove the cup. While in 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 mistake to pull it out without releasing the seal as it may lead to some discomfort and may be 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 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 an 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 birth control device, and it can not prevent 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 period 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 a 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 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 for a 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 upto 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 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 is 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 a 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 in 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 off 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 in the trash.
Can it be used for urinary incontinence?
No, as we pee from 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 post partum bleeding. Post delivery the vagina may be swollen and bruised. Inserting a cup at this time may be very discomforting. Secondly, the mouth of 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 silicone cup safe for vaginal insertion?
Silicone cups are perfectly safe for use during 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 molded 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 implant 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.