Dear Quixotic Kid.
Please tell us more about menstrual cups! I haven’t done much research on them and would love to hear about all the pros and cons.
I'm so hyped you asked this question! Sorry it has taken so long for me to answer, but I'm ready to give you as comprehensive a list of pros and cons as possible. I talked to some of my friends that use menstrual cups as well, in the hopes that this wouldn't be just my personal opinion, but who knows.
- Environmentally friendly - Much less waste and trash than using tampons and pads.
- Cheaper overall - One $40 cup can last you 10 years! That's $0.33 per period!!
- Better for your vagina health - Because the silicone is non-absorbent, it doesn't take any of your essential fluids like tampons do. As an added bonus, it therefore eliminates your risk of toxic shock syndrome, aka the scariest thing 12 year-old-me had ever heard of.
- Can keep it in for 12 hours!! - This, combined with the next pro, were the two main game changers for me. Sleeping on your period is the worst. I know that some people wear tampons and then get up in the middle of the night to change them (which sucks) but I would always just sleep with pads. I would feel my period happening and wake up multiple times a night. Not to mention the dangerous game in the morning. Menstrual cups are safe to keep in all night without getting up and you can't feel the blood! Win-win! On light days, I literally just empty it in the morning and evening and don't have to worry about it for the rest of the day! Can I get a WOOOOoooooOOOOOOOooooooo?!?!
- Holds as much as 2 super tampons - Heck yeah, dude. Imagine changing your tampon half as much, then combine that with the idea that you'd be able to wear a "super tampon" even on the last day of your period.
- Much more comfy, especially on light days - For me, the light days were the worst because the dryness was just painful, whether putting in or taking out. Menstrual cups eliminate that problem entirely.
- Gotta learn to use it - I won't lie, there's a relatively significant learning curve. I don't think I really got the hang of how it should be inserted properly for like 2-3 months. It still worked during that time, but not as well as it should have if I was doing it right. Also, just getting it in there can be daunting, as it is much bigger looking than a tampon.
- Still can leak - I've seen ads for menstrual cups that try to say that since there's a suction element to the cup's rim you're never going to leak. That's so not true. If the cup is full enough, it'll drop down until the suction is released and you'll leak. However, because you can keep it in longer, I leak far less than I used to while using tampons. But you know, a pantyliner or thin pad is your friend in all cases.
- Get real up close and personal with yourself - If you use a menstrual cup, you are going to need to get very comfy with your anatomy pretty quick. For both insertion and taking it out, you need to really get up in there. There's a stem on almost all cups, but it doesn't function the same way as a tampon string. It's up in there too, just less far, you know?
- Keeping it clean and emptying it while not at home is kind of a hassle - honestly, my least favorite part of having a menstrual cup. When you're in a private bathroom, it's just a quick dump, rinse, and back in. Rinsing it becomes much more difficult in a public restroom, as I'm sure you could guess. It can get tricky. Also, I once went on a camping trip to a place without even latrines while on my period and that was a nightmare. It all worked out okay, but I will never do that again.
- Some people just get icked out by the whole concept - Trust me, I get it. Menstrual blood is gross. It's especially gross when collected in a cup as opposed to absorbed into cotton. Some people can't handle having to interact with their blood in that way, and that's valid. This was probably the con that bothered me the least, honestly.
For me personally, the pros outweigh the cons. I am really glad I switched to a menstrual cup. I've been using it for roughly 4 years now with no regrets. Please, please, please do your homework on what brand you want, as there are a crazy number of brands. Cups in all shapes, sizes and colors and it can be a little overwhelming. If you're interested but don't know where to start, I found a "Menstrual Cup Quiz" that can at least give you some brands to check out that might be a good fit for you. Don't buy from a tiny, no brand website, as their silicone may not be medical grade and safe to put in your body. There are a bunch of menstrual cup websites where people compare brands and answer questions. I personally use a Lena Cup like this one here. Honestly, I chose it because my sister had gotten a Diva cup and didn't like the shape, so I picked this one. It was also one of the main brands and I'd seen good reviews. I've never had any problems with it, even though my criteria list was pretty short. Also, it comes in pretty colors....
P.S. I honestly have more I could say about cups, especially in regard to buying and pitfalls of using it early on, but I think this is long enough. If you want that info but don't want to submit a question, email me at quixotic.kid(at)theboard.byu.edu. Or you could ask another question, either way is fine with me.