Considering how long menstruation has been around, the options for managing it are, frankly, limited. About 7 in 10 people in Western Europe, Canada and the USA use tampons, or a combination of tampons and pads. While the first menstrual cup was patented way back in 1867, they've only recently risen to mainstream appeal.

Health on Female First

Health on Female First

What is a menstrual cup?

Menstrual cups are small, flexible cups that you insert into your vagina during menstruation. Unlike tampons and pads, cups collect your menstrual blood rather than absorbing it.

Menstrual cups may not be right for everyone, but they are definitely worth a try - the majority of people who try them for least three cycles say they prefer a cup to both tampons and pads.

Why are the so great? Menstrual cups v.s tampons and pads

· Fewer worries about having to change them throughout the day:

Most menstrual cups can stay in for up to 12 hours before being emptied and rinsed. Unlike recommendations for tampons, this means you can wear one when you're sleeping for more than 8 hours, or all day long. That being said, you may need to empty a cup more often if your flow is at its heaviest, but you can use the same cup for your heaviest and lightest days.

· Reduced risk of leaks:

You are likely to have fewer leaks with a properly inserted menstrual cup than than with tampons or pads. That means fewer uncomfortable moments searching for a bathroom.

· Better for the environment:

The environmental impact of menstrual cups is significantly lower than disposable products.

· Major health benefits:

Unlike tampons, menstrual cups keep all your other healthy vaginal fluids right where they should be: in your vagina. Tampons absorb anything they can get their cotton-y fibers on. This includes healthy bacteria, hydration and lubrication. Tampons also cause friction in the vagina, especially when they are too absorbent for the amount of blood flow. This can cause little tears in the delicate vaginal wall. Menstrual cups have almost no history of causing toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare, but dangerous, buildup of certain bacteria in the vagina mainly associated with high-absorbency tampons. Lastly, menstrual cups let you monitor exactly how much you are bleeding. This can help you spot a change, or keep an eye on an existing health condition.

· Other great reasons to choose the menstrual cup:

You'll have fewer trips to the pharmacy, you'll never have to worry about your tampon string showing at the beach and as if this wasn't reason enough to love the menstrual cup, certain cups are even safe to use during sex!

The downsides, and how to deal with them…

Menstrual cups are easy to insert and remove, once you get the hang of them. Even so, adjusting to a cup can take time and be inconvenient. It takes about three cycles to get a realistic idea of how they fit with your body and life. Be patient and don't expect to make the switch flawlessly or all at once.

It can be a bit tricky to get the hang of removing a full cup at first. The first few times you do it can be messy. These are all normal bumps in the road on the way to becoming a dedicated cup-lover. Try wearing your cup around the house at first, and balancing with tampons or pads until you feel confident.

Cups can also be pain to deal with in public restrooms. You can get around this by carrying a little case for your cup, and a tampon or pad for backup.

Finally… How to use them

It can take a while to come up with the cup position and routine that works for you. You may put it in too high at first and spring a leak, or too low and experience pinching (depending on the cup you use).

Each menstrual cup is a bit different, so read the instructions before you try. Most cups will have you fold them up, and insert them horizontally towards your tailbone. You may need to rotate or adjust certain cups to get them in place - be sure your cup isn't suctioned to your vaginal wall. To remove, go slowly at first and expect to feel a bit unsure.

Pro tip: a great place to get used to removing your menstrual cup is in the shower!

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