These days, you've got a lot of options for dealing with your period: tampons, disposable and reusable pads, period underwear of all shapes and sizes, and menstrual cups. Those tulip-shaped silicone cups can look confusing at first, but they're becoming more popular; the global menstrual cup market was worth $406.7 million in 2019. They're also eco-friendly and can last up to 10 years, according to a study published in The Lancet in 2019 — much more affordable than dashing to the bodega for tampons every month. But the silicone chalices beget a seeming endless rash of questions: how do you clean it? Where does it live when you're not on your period? Can it ever get stuck? If Dr. Google isn't giving you the answers you need, you can text a new menstrual cup hotline run by sexual wellness company LOLA for more info.
"It seemed that everyone knows someone who swears by the cup, but many of us still have so many questions about how it works," Alex Friedman, co-founder of LOLA, tells Bustle. The Cup Club hotline, launching Feb. 18, is designed to demystify "cup confusion." LOLA already fields around 4,000 customer enquiries per month about their other products, which include pads and tampons, so Friedman said it was a natural step to develop a hotline for cups, too.
If you have questions, you can text LOLACUP to 844-539-1411. You'll be connected to a member of the LOLA team, or a medical expert from the LOLA Collective, which includes gynecologists and experts on PCOS and infertility.
LOLA launched its own medical-grade silicon cup this year, joining a market that includes Diva Cups, Intima, and Mooncups. Friedman says menstrual cups are a great choice for people who are interested in making their periods more sustainable, and those who live busy lives. "The cup also only needs to be cleaned and replaced every six to 12 hours, so it’s a perfect solution for when you won’t be near a bathroom, or have a day filled with errands and back-to-back meetings," she says. LOLA cups come in two sizes, for light or heavy flows, and she suggests first-time users should pair theirs with a liner while they get used to the experience.
Cups can be clumsy and awkward on the first try, but they're pretty basic to use: just fold it in half, insert with clean hands, and then remove and empty within the next 12 hours. Clean your cup with boiling water and mild, unscented soap between uses, too. The Lancet study also found that cups are just as effective as pads or tampons when it comes to preventing leaks.
The Cup Club Hotline is designed to answer questions like "how do I change cups in a public bathroom" and "will cups affect my IUD," but if you're still in need of specific info related to your personal situation, chat to your gynecologist or doctor.
van Eijk, A. M., Zulaika, G., Lenchner, M., Mason, L., Sivakami, M., Nyothach, E., Unger, H., Laserson, K., & Phillips-Howard, P. A. (2019). Menstrual cup use, leakage, acceptability, safety, and availability: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet. Public health, 4(8), e376–e393. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(19)30111-2