By Dana DeMercurio
We are all familiar with the functionality of a cup. You know, the kind you drink your green juice from. But not every woman is familiar with the kind that gets inserted and acts as a catch-all during that time of the month. On that note, here are some pros and cons of using menstrual cups as part of your monthly feminine hygiene routine.
- It’s Perfect for Forgetful Females
Making sure you leave the house with your purse packed to the brim with tampons or pads is quite the feat for some of our scatterbrained sisters (you know who you are). With a menstrual cup, you just need the one. Imagine: no awkward bathroom encounters begging strangers for a tampon, no improvised pads made from layered toilet paper, no mad dash to your local drug store only to spend money on products already filling your under-the-counter bathroom space at home. Harness your forgetfulness for something more advantageous, like forgetting you just ate a pound of chocolate with a side of Cheetos washed down with a strawberry margarita.
- It’s a Serious Money-saver
Menstrual cups are reusable. I repeat, they are reusable. While most manufacturers claim the cups can be used for up to one year, some eco-sites claim that with proper maintenance and care, one cup can last up to 10 years. If you’re not imagining yourself swimming in a lake of dollar bills you could be saving every month, then perhaps you’re grossly unaware of just how much you spend on feminine hygiene products per year. Menstrual cups average $30, while a box of 18 Tampax Pearl tampons cost roughly $4. You do the math.
- 10 Hours of Carefree Living
Of course, this varies depending on individual flow, but menstrual cups are meant to provide 10 to 12 hours of coverage, ultimately requiring less trips to the bathroom to make sure you’re not gushing through your favorite pair of jeans. Unlike tampons that need to be changed every eight hours, menstrual cups need to be emptied and cleaned just twice a day, as they can hold nearly five times more than tampons or pads. And the clincher: there’s no risk of toxic shock syndrome associated with menstrual cups, as these devices are non-absorbent.
- Your Vagina Will Thank You for “Going Green”
Pads and tampons all contain harmful chemicals that are known to create health concerns among their users, including bleached rayon, a material that has the potential to create the cancer-causing byproduct dioxin. If the thought of shoving these products “up there” makes your vagina tightened up like a clam, then menstrual cups may be the right alternative for you. Cups are latex, BPA and additive free – just make sure to purchase the 100% silicone style. And because there is virtually no waste associated with cups as opposed to the billions of tampons and pads currently populating our landfills and sewer systems, you’re easily doing your part to help keep the planet green. For this, your vagina deserves an award. Perhaps a new pair of panties?
- It Can Get a Bit Messy
There’s a bit of an “ick factor” associated with emptying a menstrual cup, especially in public restrooms. There’s always a chance of spilling associated with cup use. It’s imperative that the cup be rinsed and properly cleaned after every use, which can also pose issues for those not near a water source. If you’re the kind of woman who lets her dirty dishes sit in the sink for weeks on end without a second thought, you may want to think twice about starting a routine with menstrual cups as upkeep and proper care are essential with this product.
- Finding the Right Size
Menstrual cups are much like McDonald’s French fries: they come in small, medium and large. Finding the proper fit may be a struggle for some new users, and requires you to get up close and personal with your ladyparts. Be sure to check the size chart when making a purchase or seek advice from your gynecologist.
- Insertion Issues and Difficulties
For women using an IUD or those who’ve never had intercourse, cup insertion may be a bit more difficult and painful. In order to not damage or disrupt the IUD, consult with your OB/GYN about the best methods for menstrual cup use. Be advised that breaking an intact hymen is also possible when using a cup, so be gentle and don’t force it in.