Thursday, April 20

The Pros & Cons of Menstrual Cups

Wondering what menstrual cups are all about? Thinking about making the switch yourself? Read on to learn some of the pros and cons of menstrual cups!

What Is A Menstrual Cup - The Pros And Cons Of Menstrual CupsI have been using menstrual cups now for over three years now and I LOVE them! I started with a Diva Cup and now I use Lena which I love even more. I first decided to get a menstrual cup because of the fact that they can be used for YEARS! That means no more running out of tampons every month and being inconvenienced. It saves money and it's less wasteful. But as I soon learned there are a lot more pros than just how long lasting they are. However, despite how awesome cups are though, they do have a few drawbacks as well.

Pro #1: Cost Savings

Since you can use your cup month after month for years (some claim up to 10 years!) you end up saving quite a bit of money after your initial investment compared to buying tampons or pads every month. The better you care for your cup the longer it will last and the more economical it becomes. 

Pro #2: Reduced Waste

The amount of waste produced by tampons and pads is staggering. I personally used to use an average of 20 tampons per cycle, that's 240 tampons per year or 480 tampons over the two year period that I owned my first menstrual cup (the Diva Cup). So one menstrual cup compared to 480 tampons? That's a lot less waste! Now that I've found Lena and love it even more I plan to use it even longer thus reducing my waste impact a bit further.

Pro #3: 12 Hours Of Wear!!

That's right, you can wear your menstrual cup for up to 12 hours before you have to empty it! This is insanely convenient compared to the 8 hours max for tampons (and the associated fear of Toxic Shock Syndrome, which is a very minor concern with the cup, another pro!). There is also no fear of leaking during that 12 hour period either if the cup is inserted correctly. I like to empty my cup first thing when I wake up in the morning and then in the evening after dinner, so easy. Now of course you can empty your cup more often if you desire or if your flow is heavy. I usually empty mine out every 8 hours during the first 24 hours of my cycle since that's when my flow is heaviest, it helps make things a bit less messy.

Pro #4: It's Better For Your Vagina

I think sometimes people who aren't familiar with the menstrual cup may think it's less sanitary than tampons and thus not so good for you. That's not the case at all. Not only do you not have to worry so much about TSS as mentioned above but cups also do not throw off your natural PH balance the way tampons can (tampons don't just absorb menstrual blood they also absorb your natural vaginal fluids which can throw the delicate balance of the beneficial bacteria in your vagina out of whack). Tampons and pads are both often bleached which adds chemicals that really have no business being near your lady parts and that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to health concerns related to the additives in tampons and pads, that could be an entire article unto itself. If you do choose to continue using tampons or pads, consider using organic ones, your vagina will thank you for it.

The menstrual cup isn't perfect though. So let's get to some cons!

Con #1: There's A Learning Curve.

Menstrual cups can be a bit tricky to use at first, it will likely take you several failed application attempts to get it right. There are special ways to fold the cup over for insertion and then you have to worry about it opening up properly inside the vagina (because if it doesn't you'll experience leaking). It's going to take some practice!

Con #2: You're Going To Have To Get Intimate With Your Period.

This really isn't that much of a con once you get used to it but at first it can be jarring at first. The cup doesn't absorb the menstrual blood the way a tampon does, it simply collects it. That means when you go to empty out your cup you're going to see the blood, a whole lot of it. And it smells. I've never actually seen someone else mention this before when discussing the cup but menstrual blood smells. I don't even notice it anymore but the first time I ever emptied my cup I was taken aback by the strong smell of the blood, my entire bathroom smelled like it afterwards. (But don't worry, you can't smell a thing when you're wearing the cup!) And you'll probably get blood on your hands. Especially in the beginning or if your flow is heavy, messes do happen so prepare to get bloody. Also, unlike tampons which have a convenient little string dangling outside of the vagina, the cup is all the way in your vagina and you're going to have to reach up in there and pull it back out. So yes, you're going to have to be comfortable with your body, with your blood, and with your period in general. But don't worry, after a few uses it won't even phase you anymore and really I think it helps to take away some of the stigma associated with periods, they really don't have to and shouldn't be seen as dirty.

Con #3: One Size Does Not Fit All

Just like not everyone will use the same tampon sizes, not everyone will use the same cup size. There are generally two sizes for cups a small and a large, the size difference between the two is very slight but it does help ensure a good fit and seal and that the cup is large enough to contain your flow. It's not just the two sizes though, menstrual cups from different companies are made in different shapes, different lengths, different firmness levels. So finding your perfect cup may not happen on the first try. I used the Diva Cup for two years and it got the job done but I knew there had to be something better out there (even after two years I had troubles inserting it sometimes which led to leaks). Enter: the Lena cup. Why did the Lena cup work better for me? It's firmer so it's much easier to open fully in the vagina during insertion. (That being said, some women may feel that the Lena is too firm and prefer the thinner material of the Diva Cup, personal preference is key here.) I also like that it's pink rather than clear/white so it doesn't discolor the way my Diva Cup did (over time it developed a brownish hue, this is normal and while not unhealthy it isn't pleasing to the eye either). There are many, many other menstrual cup brands out there besides these two as well and different people love different ones for different reasons. 

Get Your Own Menstrual Cup

Interested in giving menstrual cups a try? There are many to choose from but here are the two that I have tried and mentioned in this article.

LENA Feminine Hygiene Cup - FDA Registered - Small - Normal Menstrual Flow - Pink

Diva Cup 1 Pre Childbirth

That's it! Those are my main pros & cons of menstrual cups. What do you think? Are you willing to give them a try? Do you have any other pros or cons you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below.

The Pros And Cons Of Menstrual Cups

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