If you're considering
using a menstrual cup for your period, it's likely because another menstrual cup user has recommended it to you. That was the case with me; I'd been using tampons and pads since my first period, and when a friend told me about the cup and I did research for myself, I figured it was worth a shot. Menstrual cups are popular for a number of reasons: They're far cheaper than disposable products, as they last for years, and they're environmentally-friendly, since you don't throw them out each month. Win-win.
But, as with any "alternative" product, they're not for everybody. For one, they can be messy: "I was once in the Brazilian rainforest and upended a full [cup] onto my white trousers," one friend tells me. They also require you to
get up close and personal with your intimate areas, as cups require getting used to the size, inserting them, and working with the small "tail" at the end that's meant to help you extract it. But the cost savings, among other benefits, can be truly remarkable. Expenditure on tampons and pads can add up, particularly in areas where they're taxed or treated as "luxury goods." Are you ready to join the cup revolution? Nine women get real about how it worked for them. 1 Melinda I've been using a menstrual cup [...] for the past eight years and I LOVE IT. No need to carry sanitary products around with me. No ongoing monthly expenses. No using disposable sanitary products that harm our environment in their production and disposal. No awkwardness using the restroom in someone's home who doesn't have a bin by the toilet for used sanitary product disposal. Sometimes, because I don't need to change the cup [that] frequently, I actually forget I have my period! Initially, until I got the hang of where it should sit, I did have some leaking. When I got the hang of it, that issue stopped. Inserting it took a few cycles to get used to, but now it's second nature. I recall the very first time I had to empty the blood out of it, I felt queasy. I said to my boyfriend at the time, 'I don't think I can handle doing this. It was gross. So much blood!,' and he responded, 'You don't have to look at and examine the contents, just tip it out.' So true. Apart from the first day of my period, when I experience a heavier flow, I only need to empty the cup twice each day: once in the morning, once at night. I do it in the shower, and it's super easy. I would 100 percent recommend a menstrual cup to every woman. If she is worried her flow is too heavy for a cup, remember that a cup holds as much as several tampons can. And she can always use a panty liner or period underwear as a backup until she feels comfortable with just the cup. 2 April I’ve been using [a menstrual cup] for years and am happy with it. It’s super convenient, especially when sleeping as I have far fewer leaks. I also think it helps reduce cramps, but that’s just anecdotal, never heard any definitive proof it does it. I’ve also used it for swimming on the later days of my period. One thing that has come up is that two doctors told my they would not recommend using it if I got an IUD, as they felt I might accidentally pull the string. So I just didn’t get the IUD and use the Nuva Ring instead. 3 Jacqueline I started using the menstrual cup about two years ago as an alternative to tampons. Initially, I was skeptical for a few reasons. One, I have a tilted uterus and fibroids, meaning I have a heavy flow and potential difficulty placing the cup. Two, removing this thing seemed weird and gross, honestly. I struggled to place it at first, which I expected. It was awkward but the instructions noted that you may need to try a few different entry methods. I found one that was the least uncomfortable and after a few uses, it was easy as pie and largely unnoticeable once inserted. Because of my anatomy, I have to change it more than some but actually less often than my tampons. I have to change frequently for the first few days — like every hour or so. I still use liners as a backup to protect my clothes on heavy days but otherwise, I can leave for the day and empty in the evening. 4 Becky I use a menstrual cup! I have done since about 2011 [...] and generally I love it. I find it much more comfortable than the disposable alternatives and more convenient too, as it needs changing less often. I would say though that it took me a while to get used to it. The publicity also says something like 'it's completely possible to use a cup and not have to touch your own blood' [...] and this is very much not the case in my experience. I have lots of friends who have used them and love them, and also some who have tried and found that they can't get on with it. It concerns me a bit that menstruators are pressured to switch to reusable alternatives because of all the tampons in the sea (which is obviously important), but some people can't use menstrual cups for physical or financial reasons and shouldn't feel bad about that. I still use tampons sometimes for reasons of convenience. 5 Naja I'm allergic to a lot of disposable products so it's a blessing for my skin. They ARE messy and you WILL get blood on your fingers sometimes, but if you're not squeamish it's fine. 6 Sara As a 42 year old women who’s had her period since I was 13 years old, why am I just now learning about and trying out the cup?! I like that it has two size options, but the directions are misleading for which size option is right for you. I ended up having to try both sizes over two cycles to be sure which was best for me. And that would be my recommendation to others. I love that I don’t have to worry about leaks, floods, or the 'when can I change my tampon while on an airplane’ anxiety. I have already told several of my girl friends about using a menstrual cup vs a tampon. I honestly think that it’s helped my period be lighter, less cramps, and a lot less dryness. 7 Shannon The first time I tried using the [menstrual] cup was a little unsuccessful, because I didn’t entirely understand how it worked and I honestly don’t think I really felt comfortable putting something into, and pulling it out of, my vagina. It is way easier to use than pads or tampons. You don’t have the bulkiness of pads and you don’t have the string from a tampon. I usually tell people that [menstrual] cups are NOT a good fit if you have a multi-stall bathroom at work. But if you have a single-stall restroom, you’re good to go! I bought mine four years ago. I think I’ve saved something like $400-$500 on feminine products since that one purchase. I know it’s a weird thing for some people to consider, but it is a game changer if you’re willing to deal with the initial awkwardness of learning how to use it! 8 Elly I really liked the idea of the menstrual cup (saving money, better for the environment) but, unfortunately, it gave me thrush. I went right back to tampons after that. 9 Amanda I bought my first menstrual cup a bit over a year ago when I was about to take a four-month trip around the world. I knew I’d be in some out of the way places where feminine products might be hard to find, and I didn’t want to carry a ton of them with me. It took me probably two to three periods to actually get the hang of using it, and now I’m pretty devoted to it. Once you learn to put it in correctly, it doesn’t leak, even on heavy days. I love to be in the ocean, at the beach, sailing, swimming, running, cycling, or all sorts of other sports where leaks cause issues. It’s so much cheaper — and better for the environment. It pays for itself (easily) within three periods. Think of all the plastic applicators you’re NOT putting in the trash. Think of all the cotton you’re NOT flushing down the toilet (or putting in a landfill). As far as the 'ick' factor, a few of my friends have asked me if your hands get bloody putting it in or out – for me, the answer is no. From the 'ew' standpoint, I don’t find using it any more disgusting than wrapping used tampons in toilet paper. Again, you kind of have to get used to it, but once you do, I’ve found it to be a much better option. 10
Menstrual cups aren't going to be for everybody, but for those who do like them, they really, really like them. Think a menstrual cup could be for you? Why not try it out!