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If you are not a little kid, you should know fertile women have their period; it is not a shame, it is just nature.
To gather the blood, sanitary napkins (pads) are usually used. But today I wanna show you a better alternative.
The menstrual cup is an ecological alternative to classic internal and external sanitary pads. It is a small cone-shaped device made of soft hypoallergenic material. The menstrual cup is inserted inside the vagina during the period of menstruation, to collect the blood losses, rather than absorb them. After a few hours, this must be extracted, emptied, rinsed, and repositioned. Menstrual cups are reusable, so they are cheaper and more environmentally friendly: unlike disposable pads, you avoid producing tons of waste and a single device lasts several years!
Menstrual cups are devices to use during menstruation, the shape of which resembles that of a small funnel. In practice, they replace the use of classic external or internal absorbents. Unlike tampons, however, menstrual cups do not absorb uterine blood, rather they collect it inside them and must periodically be emptied into the toilet or sink. The menstrual cups are made with hyper-soft material: it is medical silicone, latex, or other hypoallergenic materials, which make them imperceptible and comfortable during use.
Warning! Menstrual cups are not a method of birth control, so they do not guarantee any protection from unwanted pregnancy or STDs. What are they for? Menstrual cups can be a valid alternative to traditional sanitary pads or disposable tampons. The menstrual cup is introduced into the vagina by folding it on itself, almost like a tampon. Once inserted, the device will adhere perfectly to the vaginal walls and collect the menstrual flow. After 4-8 hours (time that varies according to menstrual flow and different women), the cup has to be removed, rinsed, and repositioned. In any case, the autonomy of the cup is greater than that of any other traditional absorbent.
Why choosing them
Menstrual cups are a solution:
- Economic: the price of a menstrual cup is around 20$; considering that this can ideally be reused for 10 years, as recommended by the manufacturers, the annual cost of these devices is approximately 2-3 dollars. The price of a menstrual cup is quickly amortized within a few cycles and allows considerable economic savings compared to other sanitary pads.
- Ecological: the menstrual cup is not trashed after each use, but can be emptied, washed, and reused, lasting a long time, without polluting. This device is therefore very sustainable for the environment, unlike internal and external absorbents which, being disposable, affect the production of raw materials and the amount of waste generated.
- Hygienic: the menstrual flow is collected and isolated inside its cable, avoiding the feeling of damp and discomfort caused by external sanitary pads and that of dryness and discomfort caused by internal ones. When inserted correctly, the menstrual cup is so comfortable that you can't feel it!
- Menstrual cups also offer greater autonomy than a sanitary napkin (8 hours compared to 3-4 hours for a normal sanitary pad) and collect a greater quantity of blood than an internal tampon, reducing the frequency of the "change".
From a gynecological point of view, this device prevents redness and irritation, since the mucous membranes do not remain in contact with synthetic and damp surfaces (external absorbent). This makes the menstrual cup tolerated even by allergic women or women with very sensitive skin. Warning! Women who believe they have gynecological problems, use the IUD or the vaginal contraceptive ring should always consult their doctor before deciding to abandon the other methods of collection of the menstrual flow.
How to choose them
Regarding material and shape, two types of menstrual cups can be distinguished:
- Contoured menstrual cups: the most used variant and the best choice to pick; these are bell-shaped devices, made of rubber, latex, or silicone. This type of menstrual cup is reusable and, if maintained correctly, can last up to 10 years.
- Menstrual cups in polyethylene: less known, they have a shape that resembles that of contraceptive diaphragms, with a diameter of 7.5 cm. In this category, two further types can be distinguished:
- Disposable menstrual cups: they are single-use, so they must be eliminated after a single use (not a good choice);
- Reusable menstrual cups: to be thrown away at the end of each menstruation.
Another variable to consider when buying is the size. There are, in fact, small, medium, and large menstrual cups, which adapt to the conformation of the vagina; each woman can choose the size that best suits her body, the abundance of the flow, the age, and the number of births. In general, the small sizes (small or S) are suitable for young people who have not had children yet, while the large ones (large or L) are indicated for women who have already had a vaginal birth. It should be kept in mind, however, that, as with everything related to the intimate sphere, subjectivity plays an important role: some may opt for a large cup due to an abundant menstrual flow (hypermenorrhea) and, vice versa, other women, despite having given birth, continue to get along well with a small size. To choose the right size, ask your gynecologist for advice, also to be sure you can use it: after a few operations, for example, the cup is not recommended.
How much do they cost and where to buy them?
Menstrual cups can be purchased in pharmacies, shopping malls, organic food stores, herbalists, or, online, on e-commerce sites. The menstrual cup has a price range that varies from 10 to 35 dollars. Different purchasing solutions can affect the cost: you can buy two cups at an affordable price, choosing, for example, to take several sizes; in other cases, it is possible to buy a complete kit with a cup holder, sanitizer, and cup.
How to use them
The menstrual cups are simple to use and guarantee absolute discretion. Correct insertion is essential to maximize the effectiveness of this device.
The menstrual cups have a stem designed to facilitate the removal of the binder and allow a perfect adaptation to the genital anatomy of the woman. At the first application, this end must be cut according to its conformation, so that it does not come out excessively and does not cause discomfort. Wash your hands thoroughly before each use. The dimensions of the menstrual cup are not very different from those of an internal tampon: just find the right way to squeeze it on yourself, to facilitate its insertion. During this operation, there is no need to be afraid to try several times, until you become familiar and find the most comfortable way to fold it to apply it. A lubricant can make it easier to insert the menstrual cup, but it is not always necessary (usually, the lubrication provided by the vagina is sufficient).
How to apply
Insert the menstrual cup into the vagina, at any time of menstruation. The reusable version tends to position itself correctly, without necessarily pushing it deeply, in contact with the uterine cervix. This device must be fully inserted into the vaginal canal, with the widest opening up and the stem down. The disposable cup must be prepared by flattening the edge, then inserted in the middle of the vaginal tract and pushed close to the uterine cervix, where the particular internal conformation of the female body keeps it in position.
How to remove
To remove the menstrual cup from the vagina, simply push it down with the help of the pelvic muscles and remove it by pulling the stem of the cup outwards, squeezing it slightly to let the air out and eliminate the effect of " engulf ". Depending on the extent of your menstrual flow (more or less abundant), empty the cup every 4-8 hours. After removal, the cup should be carefully washed with water and neutral soap and rinsed under the tap. Dry the cup, then reintroduce it into the vagina.
For a correct use of the menstrual cup, it is good to have some small attentions, which reduce the risk of some unwanted effects:
- Between one menstruation and the other, the menstrual cup must be sterilized by boiling it for 10 minutes in water (after each cycle and before you start using it again). Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before in squeeze and remove the menstrual cup.
- Although the average life of a menstrual cup is ideally 10 years, some manufacturers still recommend replacing the cup more frequently, for hygienic reasons. The menstrual cup can be used at any time during your period. It can be used safely during the night and for sports (the cup is not visible, as it is inserted completely inside the vagina).
- Sexual activity: most menstrual cups need to be removed before consuming full intercourse, while others don't. Before buying it, read more info about that. All the menstrual cups can be held in place, however, during urination or defecation.
After becoming familiar, the menstrual cup is hygienic, practical, comfortable, ecological, and really easy to use. In addition to the economic savings and respect for the environment already highlighted, this device is comfortable: if positioned correctly, the menstrual cup is not perceived by the woman and avoids the sensation of damp and discomfort caused by the external pads, and that of dryness and discomfort caused from the internal ones. At the same time, this solution is hygienic and convenient, as it collects and isolates the flow inside its cable - three times larger than an internal pad - keeping it away from the skin and reducing the frequency of the “change”.
Disadvantages and contraindications
In the first months of use, it must be done of practice both to learn the correct insertion of the menstrual cup, and to understand when is the right time to empty it (especially based on the day of the cycle and the abundance of flow). Unlike external absorbents, then, this device requires greater awareness of one's body, since it must be applied and removed inside (even if it goes less deep than a classic tampon). For few women, the first few applications can be quite complicated; in that case, you can go to your doctor for instructions on how to insert and remove it easily. Using it outside the home could create some discomfort when you do not have adequate space to remove it, empty it and rinse it. For this reason, for the first use, it is advisable to become familiar with the menstrual cup in a comfortable environment, such as at home. In predisposed women, latex menstrual cups can trigger allergic reactions. If this predisposition is known, however, it is possible to opt for other hypoallergenic materials. Menstrual cups are contraindicated in women prone to candidiasis or other vaginal infections (pathogens could proliferate in the binder) or in case of vaginitis, cervicitis, and cervical malformations. Furthermore, its use is not recommended after surgery on the genital system, which makes the area much more sensitive.