I thought about trying cloth pads, but I wanted something even easier to (re)use. I wanted something that would work night and day, with a heavy or light flow, whether I was running or swimming or lying still. I wanted something I wouldn't have to think about. I wanted something that wouldn't leak. The obvious choice soon became a menstrual cup. These are soft silicone or rubber cups that sit inside the opening of the vagina, forming a seal and collecting menstrual fluids.
A few months ago, I obtained a Diva Cup from my nurse-midwife's office boutique. I was a bit apprehensive of using it, after a very unpleasant experience with a disposable Instead Softcup in college (who knows if I inserted it right, and it cause such horrific cramps that I never tried one again). But after I saw this video last week (thanks to Sazz for the link), I decided to give it a go.
I've heard people say that it can take a few cycles to get used to menstrual cups, but honestly, I got used to mine in about 30 seconds. I watched the video and did exactly as it recommended: fold, insert, and twist. Super easy. The cup doesn't go way up high like a tampon, just high enough to get the entire thing inside with the bottom of the cup near the vaginal opening.
Inserting the cup took slightly more effort than inserting a tampon, but it was still pretty easy to do. I remember back to my teenage years when I first tried to figure out tampons...it was not fun and took so many tries before I figured it out! In comparison, using a menstrual cup was a cinch. Of course it helps to have many years of tampon wearing and fertility awareness under my belt :)
One tip: cut the stem off all the way. You definitely don't need it.
How often to empty
Menstrual cup manufacturers advertise that you can go up to 12 hours before emptying the cup. I found that to be absolutely true. Even during my heaviest flow, the cup was only one-third full after 12 hours.
Emptying the cup is easy: pinch the bottom and pull the cup out. Empty the contents into the toilet and wash the cup with soap and water and reinsert. If you're in a public restroom (not likely, since you only need to change it once in the morning and once at night), you could clean it with packaged alcohol wipes.
The most amazing thing about using a menstrual cup was that I did not have a single leak, ever. Can I say how amazing that is? Even with using tampons AND pads for backup, I always had leaks during my period. Plus tampons tended to fall out during exercise--no fun when you're in the middle of a run. But my Diva Cup stayed in place all day long, every day. Honestly, I forgot I was even having my period. It worked that well.
The only possible downside of a menstrual cup is that you have to remove it to have vaginal sex...but of course, the same goes for wearing tampons.
Worth the Investment?
YES! Menstrual cups cost between $20-40, depending on the brand and can last for 10+ years. They'll pay for themselves after just a few cycles.
I wish I had known about menstrual cups years ago. I think of all the money I spent on disposable products that still didn't work that well anyway. I don't have to spend another penny for at least 10 years. I never have to worry about leaks again, and best of all, I only have to change it once in the morning and once at night.
Some brands of menstrual cups:
- Diva Cup (made in Canada, sold in North America)
- Mooncup (UK)
- Instead (US) This comes in disposable or short-use (1 cycle) versions only
- Lunette (made in Finland)
- Juju (made in Australia)
- Miacup (made in South Africa)
- MeLuna (made in Germany of TPE, thermoplastic elastomer)
- The Keeper (rubber) and the Moon Cup (silicone)