Being comfortable is key to having a pleasant period, and the menstrual product you use is a huge factor in determining if your time of the month will be smooth sailing, or hugely annoying. Researching menstrual products online or taking a look at your local pharmacy can be overwhelming, since there are more choices now than ever before. Though tampons and pads are still the standard go-to products during your period, menstrual cups are becoming a more popular option. Bustle spoke to five people who made the switch to about why they love their menstrual cup — and why they’re never going back to tampons or pads.
According to menstrual cup company Lunette, menstrual cups have been around since the 1800s — and the first version of the modern cup was patented in 1937. But the period product didn’t receive widespread attention until the turn of the 21st century and after. Unless you’ve tried the cup yourself, you probably have a lot of questions about it. The reusable menstrual product has some obvious benefits, such as being eco-friendly and cost effective, but many people still have reservations about trying them. If you’re less than happy with the period product you’ve been using, there’s no better time than the start of the new year to try something new. After all, it’s 2018 — we need to stop being afraid of menstrual cups, and separate myths about the cup from the facts.
“I waited so long before pulling the trigger on buying a menstrual cup.I researched every cup in scrutinizing detail. Finally, I bought a $15 Blossom Cup from Amazon and have never been happier,” says Heidi, an activist. “I was worried about mess, not having enough pelvic strength, [the menstrual cup being] the wrong fit. But no — none of those fears bore out.”
A common concern about menstrual cups is that the product can be leaky and disruptive of daily activities. But people who actually use cups say this fear can’t be be farther from the reality of using a cup: Madalena, a college admissions counselor, tells Bustle that menstrual cups are not only “the most comfortable and painless option” she’s found that menstrual cups are way less leaky than tampons. Kellie, a 911 dispatcher who has used the cup for around four years, adds, “My menstrual cup is amazing. I feel dry — with no leaks, and no hassles. I also have no issues going outdoors, or going without access to a bathroom for a while.” According to Lunette, people who menstruate release about 1.5 ounces of blood during their period, and their models of menstrual cups can hold between .85 ounces and 1 ounces of bloods without leaking. While flow can vary in heaviness from person to person, and from cycle to cycle, there’s no doubt that menstrual cups require less daily maintenance than other products.
Another worry people express about switching to a menstrual cups is the fear that the product will cause more discomfort, pain, or health complications. Though much bigger than a tampon, menstrual cups warm up to match the temperature of your body, and often times, people forget they have one inside them. Additionally, the majority of menstrual cups are made of medical grade rubber or silicone, which creates less interference with your vagina’s pH levels and healthy bacteria. Absorbent tampons, on the other hand, can easily dry you out and strip you of the naturally-produced chemicals that maintain and protect your vaginal health. As with tampons, menstrual cups can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), but this can be altogether avoided if you practice good period hygiene and follow the directions on how to properly clean your menstrual cup.
Menstrual cup users not only love the product, but some say it’s actually enhanced their relationship with their bodies, and their understanding of their period cycles. “Those of us who work at Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah’s administration office have noticed that cup users seem to feel like their more ‘in tune’ or connected with their flow because everything is a little more visible,” Kelsey, a menstrual cup user and community organizer, tells Bustle. Moreover, Kenslee, a childcare provider who switched to the menstrual cup about a year and a half ago, explains, “Menstrual cups gave me the opportunity to learn more about my body and cycle. I feel better about the fact that I’m so much more comfortable with my body and how it works. It seriously makes a difference!”
Despite the fact that many people swear menstrual cups are the holy grail of period products, there are some drawbacks to them. Menstrual cups may be environmentally friendly, but they’re not always the most disability-friendly or financially accessible product. Menstrual cups can save you money in the long run: on average, menstruating people spend just shy of $2,000 on tampons in their lifetime according to HuffPost, versus $15 to $40 for a menstrual cup you can reuse for two or so years. However, not everyone has the option to fork out more money upfront — especially if they're living paycheck-to-paycheck. Moreover, inserting a cup properly has a learning curve and may require contorting or repositioning (i.e. putting a leg up or squatting) in order to insert, but not everyone has the mobility to do that — whether in a public restroom or at home. Not to mention, health issues sometimes caused by menstrual cups — such as vaginal infections or cramping — can have a greater impact on disabled people.
All in all, menstrual cups are worth a shot if you aren’t completely happy with using tampons or pads during your time of the month. Having fears about switching your go-to period product is totally normal, but try not to psych yourself out of trying something new that could better suit your needs. Menstrual cups are here to stay, and could make 2018 the year your period is stress-free.