Why I Switched From Tampons to Menstrual Cup

One thing I use to dreaded a lot when it came to travelling was going on my period. The thought of travelling on a flight, bus or train while on my periods or looking for the menstrual brand I’m used to buying at home in a foreign country was something I didn't look forward to. To minimize the challenges associated with going on my period, I switch from normal tempons to using menstrual cup.

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Menstrual cups are small, flexible cups that you insert into your vagina during menstruation. Unlike tampons and pads, this cup collects your menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. The decision to wear a menstrual cup over a tampon or pad has been very beneficial.

Below are reasons why you should consider using menstrual cups

1. They have major health benefits. 
If you’re a tampon lover like I was, this info might make you reconsider. “Unlike tampons, menstrual cups keep all your other healthy vaginal fluids right where they should be: in your vagina. On the other hand tampons absorb anything they can get into their cotton fibers. This includes healthy bacteria, hydration and lubrication.” While this might not sound so bad, a research article I read said, “Tampons also cause friction in the vagina, especially when they are too absorbent for the amount of blood flow. This can cause little tears in the delicate vaginal wall. Menstrual cups have almost no history of causing toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare, but dangerous, build-up of certain bacteria in the vagina mainly associated with high-absorbency tampons.”

2. They are very convenient. 
Think about how often you need to change your tampon — most recommendations say you should use them for no longer than eight hours. In contrast, most menstrual cups can stay in your vagina for up to 12 hours before being emptied and rinsed… That being said, you may need to empty a cup more often if your flow is at its heaviest, but you can use the same cup for your heaviest and lightest days. You are actually likely to have fewer leaks with a properly inserted menstrual cup than with tampons or pads. That means fewer uncomfortable moments searching for a bathroom.

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3. It’s definitely cheaper and more eco-friendly. 
Think about how many tampons you use per period, then calculate how much you spend a year on tampons. Switching to a single cup could save you money and cut down on waste.

At first I come across a challenge with learning how to use it, but menstrual cups are easy to insert and remove, once you get the hang of them. Even so, adjusting to a cup can take time and be inconvenient. It takes about three cycles to get a realistic idea of how they fit with your body and life.

How to insert a Cup in five simple steps:

1. Fold and hold

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Always start by washing your hands. Fold the cup using a fold that works best for you. Many start with the C-fold (as shown in the picture). If that doesn’t work for you, try some of the other folds to make insertion easier. Every menstruators anatomy is unique, so find the fold that works for you.

2. Insert and ensure

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As with tampons, gently insert the folded cup into your vagina, tilting it back to the base of your spine. The cup should sit as low as it can comfortably sit inside your vagina, normally lower than a tampon but with the stem fully inside.

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When the cup is inside, it will pop open, creating a light suction. The suction is how the cup prevents leaks, so use your finger to check if it is fully unfolded. Twist or rotate the cup if you need to.

Don’t rush, take your time – it’s like learning to use contact lenses.

3. Use it up to twelve hours

One of the great benefits of using a menstrual cup is that it can be used for up to twelve hours. How often you need to empty your cup depends on your cycle and flow, though most menstrual cup users find they need to empty it only in the morning and again in the evening.

4. Remove and empty

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With clean hands, gently pull the stem of the cup downwards until you can reach and grip the base of the cup. Pinch the base to release the suction and take it out gently.

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You may need to use your pelvic muscles to push your cup lower in the vagina to help you reach the base with your fingers.

When you have removed your cup, empty it into the toilet, and rinse it with water.

If you do not have access to water, you can wipe it with some tissues or simply reinsert it directly after emptying it. But make sure to rinse it at your next available opportunity.

5. Re-insert

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When your cup is rinsed, you can reinsert it, and you are ready to go again! 

If you’re ready to switch, my top-tip is to be patient. Also, don’t expect to make the switch flawlessly or all at once. It was a bit tricky for me to get the hang of removing a full cup at first. The first few times I used it was a bit messy, which are normal bumps in the road on the way to becoming a dedicated cup-lover. What I did first was to wear my cup around the house, and balancing it out with tampons or pads until I was feeling confident.

Bottom line: its worth a try!