What Is A Menstrual Cup and Why I Love Them

I’ve been using a menstrual cup for the last 8 months and I have to tell you…I’m obsessed. I cannot believe I didn’t start using one sooner. I tell pretty much everyone about it and am so happy you are here reading this post. If you’re contemplating using a menstrual cup you’ve come to the right place.

I first heard about them about 4 years ago, but was extremely skeptical and not willing to interrupt my current lifestyle to implement one. I had a copper IUD for 7 years and experienced extremely heavy, painful periods, which meant going through a lot of tampons…like A LOT. I switched to organic cotton tampons for a while, but was so sick of staining my clothes, changing my tampon every hour on my heavy days, and often wondered if they were making my cramps worse.

UPDATE (2/7/19):

I still use a menstrual cup (been using one for 2 years now!). I’ve switched to the Lena cup. One of the main reasons is because I am working on being more mindful with what companies I choose to purchase from. I enjoy supporting Lena cup’s mission to improve menstrual health globally by empowering women with the tools and knowledge they need to have a better period.

You can use the code lena-balancedbabe to get $5 off your menstrual cup! I have no affiliation other than they are an awesome company and wanted to give the women that follow me a discount.

Amanda holding a menstrual cup

Below are some questions I had and have heard other women ask whenever a menstrual cup is brought up. If you have anymore please leave them in the comments!

What Is A Menstrual Cup?

A menstrual cup is a flexible, silicone cup that you can fold and insert into your vagina in order to catch your uterine lining (menstrual blood) during your period. Most are made out of silicone, which is heat stable and much safer than tampons.

Some women are concerned with putting silicone inside their vaginas, but it doesn’t leach any chemicals into the body and there haven’t been any safety issues reported.

One other cool thing about menstrual cups is that unlike tampons, they don’t come with the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). You can safely use your cup for up to 24 hours, but most companies recommend emptying and washing it every 12 hours.

What’s wrong with tampons and pads?

There are 2 issues:

1. Conventional tampons and pads contain toxic chemicals that can be potentially harmful to our health.

Remember, your skin absorbs 60% of what gets put on it. That means that chemicals like dioxin that are commonly found in tampons and pads can be absorbed into the skin. Dioxin has been recognized as a carcinogen by the FDA and banned from being used to bleach sanitary products. And can we just talk about how tampons and pads are referred to as sanitary products as if we are somehow unsanitary because we get a period?

Okay back to dioxin, they use dioxin to bleach these products but now that it’s banned they use chlorine dioxide gas. The problem is that they are still finding dioxin residue on tampons and pads when researched during scientific studies.

Why is dioxin bad? Because it is known carcinogen and has been linked to endometriosis in animal studies. It’s important to note that this is an animal study done in monkeys, which means it may not have the same effect in humans. But with the rates of endometriosis increasing more and more in it makes you think.

2. The cotton that is used to make the tampons and pads is grown with pesticides and is genetically modified (if using non organic).

This is not good for our health or the health of our environment. Pesticide residue found on feminine products can be absorbed through the skin.

Can you use a menstrual cup if you have an IUD?

I honestly didn’t even think about this when I first started using one. I also had my IUD in for many years prior to using a menstrual cup though. From what I have researched, menstrual cups will not interfere with IUDs, but most medical practitioners recommend that you wait 2 months to use menstrual cups or tampons. The reason? If an IUD is going to dislodge, studies have shown that it occurs within the first 2 months.

If you have had an IUD in for longer than 2 months and wear tampons then a menstrual cup won’t be a problem. I didn’t even think of it since the IUD is inside your uterus and the menstrual cup sits lower in your vagina. They most likely will not touch. This is a great article that visually explains this.

This is another article highlighting some tips if you do have an IUD and want to use a menstrual cup.

3 Essential Tips for Using a Menstrual Cup

1. Make sure you’re inserting it right.

Insertion is actually really easy once you get the hang of things. Below are a few things I wish I knew when first inserting a menstrual cup:

Wet the cup!

When I first went to insert a menstrual cup, I didn’t wet the cup and it was a pain to get up there. A light bulb went off and I got the genius idea to wet the cup slightly and boom! It all made sense. You could also use a safe lubricant (which are great to have around the house anyway) to put around the top in order to make insertion easier. Most menstrual cups are made out of silicone and can be difficult to get in without some sort of moisture.

Fold the cup.

This may seem obvious, but in order to insert the cup you will have to fold it. There are a few different ways to fold the cup. Lena Cup has these great instructional images if you click here. The type of fold really depends on your body. I recommend starting with the typical c fold and if you’re struggling try a different one.

Rotate the cup once it’s inserted.

This step is ESSENTIAL. If you don’t rotate the cup then it won’t fully suction, which can lead to leaks. Put your fingers at the base of the cup and gently rotate. The cup should unfold and suction. It’s a very small rotation. It’s more just to make sure it is suctioned. This makes it so that you don’t have any leaks and can leave the cup in for up to 12 hours before changing it again. How great is that? So convenient.

2. Get to know your body and figure out how often to empty your cup.

When you first begin using a menstrual cup it will take a few cycles to get acquainted with things like how often to empty your cup, when to first put it in (if you know how long your cycles are you can put your cup in a day early in preparation), and overall how you are feeling during menstruation.

The cups can hold a lot more menstrual blood than a tampon or pad, which is why you don’t need to empty them as often, but in the beginning I recommend checking every few hours. This way you can get to know how much you are bleeding on different days of your period. It’s actually pretty interesting to see how different aspects of your life can impact your cycle, menstruation, and overall cyclical natural of your body.

3. Don’t be shy about your cup.

The only “issue” I’ve run into using a menstrual cup is being shy in a public bathroom aka being worried about what other people will think if I’m cleaning my cup in the sink. Will someone think it’s gross because there was menstrual blood in there? After some thought about this, I’ve realized that I really don’t care. Not only do I not care, but more importantly, I feel an obligation to be open and proud of using a menstrual cup. We live in a society that thinks periods are gross and a burden even though nothing could be further from the truth.

Honoring Your Cycle

The female cycle is something that needs to be honored. As women, our energy ebbs and flows. There are certain times of the month where we will often want to draw inward and others when we will feel more energetic. Our cycles and energy follow the phases of the moon and are a beautiful way to become more in tune with not only your body, but your life’s purpose.

For this reason, I’m not shy about my menstrual cup. If I need to empty my cup in a public bathroom, I do so in the stall then go to the sink and clean the cup. I think it’s important to show that periods are natural and a crucial part of female health. If you aren’t getting your period then there is something wrong. By being open about my menstrual cup and answering questions, I can help to create change around how we view periods and you can do the same.

I would love to hear from you! Do you use a menstrual cup? If not, what are your reservations? I’m so happy to share this information with women to hopefully improve their lives and health long term.

I did a non toxic living class on this in my support group. If you’re not already in my private support group you can join by clicking here!

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