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What are the advantages and disadvantages of menstrual cups?
Menstrual cups are one of my favorite sustainable switches and something I recommend to all my female friends.
That said, switching to a menstrual cup has a little bit of a learning curve and has a few downsides.
In this article, you can find all the PROS and CONS of menstrual cups and decide if the switch will make sense for you.
Pros of menstrual cups:
In my 15 ways to save money with zero waste article, I calculated that women spend $140 for tampons or $80 for menstrual pads for a year.
Menstrual cups will cost you around $30 and will last years! This means you will save lots of money and won’t need to spend monthly on menstrual pads or tampons.
2. Less wasteful & eco-friendly
A menstrual cup is reusable, and with proper care, it will last you for years. This means you will reduce a lot of unrecyclable waste made from disposable period products that end up in landfills.
3. Safer than tampons
Even though the risk is small, tampons pose the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins.
Because menstrual cups do not absorb menstrual blood as tampons do, they do not create the same conditions that can lead to TSS.
A clean, properly-used menstrual cup means the chances are much more minimal, making it a safer alternative to tampons.
4. Need to be changed less
While a menstrual cup can’t hold a lot of liquid, it can hold more blood than pads and tampons!
Regular menstrual cups can hold 2-3 tampon capacity (around 24 ml). Menstrual cups are specially made for heavy periods and have a total of 47 ml, which equals about 9 regular absorbency tampons!
Usually, you can stay with a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours with no problems if your period isn’t super heavy. If it is, removing and emptying it every 6 – 8 hours is recommended.
For example, my period isn’t too heavy, so I change my menstrual cup twice daily – in the morning and evening.
5. Good protection against leaks
When inserted correctly, period cups create a “seal,” which prevents leaking. This makes them a perfect choice for various activities.
You can use it while you swim, sleep, work out, and anything in between. If you didn’t insert it properly, and the cup didn’t create the seal, you might experience leaks.
6. No odor
Pads and tampons often contain fragrances or chemicals that can contribute to odor but also irritate the delicate skin in the vaginal area and disrupt the natural balance of bacteria, leading to an overgrowth of odor-causing bacteria.
Menstrual cups, on the other hand, are made of medical-grade silicone or latex and do not contain any fragrances or chemicals. Because of this, menstrual cups do not typically cause odor like pads or tampons.
Additionally, menstrual cups do not come into contact with air, which can help reduce the growth of bacteria that can cause odor.
Menstrual cups are made with medical-grade silicone that won’t disrupt your natural vaginal pH. In addition, they are made without BPA, phthalates, or natural rubber latex.
Sleeping with the menstrual cup is also safe and mess-free since you can wear a cup for up to 12 hours.
As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance, you will diminish the risk of infection or other possible issues.
8. It can’t be felt during sex
If you use a menstrual disc (similar to a menstrual cup), sit at the base of the cervix to collect menstrual blood.
Some folks find menstrual discs to be comfortable and allow them to have sex even while on their period.
But follow the instructions carefully to avoid leakage or discomfort. If you feel any pain or discomfort while using a menstrual disc during sex, it’s best to switch to a different product.
9. Super comfy
Did I mention how incredibly comfortable menstrual cups are? (Of course, if you got the right size)
Sometimes, it even happens that I forget that I am even wearing one! Menstrual cups are so comfortable due to their soft and flexible material, customizable fit, and internal placement.
They conform to the shape of your body and can be worn for extended periods without discomfort.
Cons of menstrual cups:
1. Insertion takes time
There is a learning curve, and putting the menstrual cup in may be challenging initially.
There are different ways to insert a menstrual cup. Unfortunately, there isn’t one universal “best” folding method. It’s best to experiment to find which one works best for you. Here you can find 8 folding methods & step-by-step guides (+images).
The easiest for me is the “C” or “U” fold, but you can try the 7 fold, punch-down fold, or S fold, which are also beginner-friendly.
2. Taking out requires a learning curve, too
Removal also requires a bit of time until you get used to it. Again, I have a complete guide on how to remove your menstrual cup without making a mess, but here’s a general idea:
Wash your hands, squat down (or put one leg on the toilet seat). Then use your stomach muscles to ‘push down’ the cup.
Gently grab the stem and slowly pull down to get to the base of the cup. Pinch the bottom of the cup to break the suction, then squeeze it and take it out.
3. Leaking if inserted wrongly
As I mentioned before, if the cup is inserted wrongly, it won’t be able to create suction, and there may be leaking.
To avoid that, double-check with your finger if the cup is open from all sides. You can also use backup protection in the beginning, like a reusable menstrual pad or period underwear, to avoid leaks until you nail down your insertion technique.
You can read on further and find out how to know if your menstrual cup is in right here.
4. Sterilizing your cup
Unlike other menstrual products, cleaning your menstrual cup will require more time. It would be best to boil it before and after your period for some time. After that, you need to keep it dry and generally be more careful.
Sometimes, sterilizing it may be inconvenient and challenging if traveling or needing access to boiling water. In this case, you still have 4 ways to sterilize your menstrual cup (without boiling).
5. It can be messy
Initially, you might have messy experiences with your menstrual cup. I have a little horror story that happened after over a year of wearing a menstrual cup.
In short, I was on a day trip away from my city, so in the evening, I was still out, and I had to empty my cup. I did it in the restroom of one restaurant. I spilled nearly everything from my cup on the floor and panicked. It looked like a murder scene! Yikеees.
After cleaning for good 10 minutes, everything was spotless, but I can’t lie; the situation was a bit stressful 😀 But don’t worry – with some practice and patience, and you will soon be able to use menstrual cups without too much mess.
The best way to practice removing your cup is while you shower – even if you make a mess, you can easily clean it up.
I have a full guide with tips on how to remove your menstrual cup without making a mess, so if that’s something you are worrying about, make sure to check that article.
6. Possible fit problems
Each body is different; sometimes, a menstrual cup that fits perfectly for some may not provide you with it. This isn’t very pleasant since you must then purchase a new menstrual cup that fits.
If you’re wearing a cup that is too big, stiff, or long for your body, it might be pressing on the vaginal walls or cervix and cause pain, discomfort, or even cramps.
7. Requires more care
Before and after each cycle, you must sterilize the cup using boiling water. This may be tricky if you are on the road and need the necessary equipment.
Luckily, in this case, you still have a few options. Learn more about how to keep your menstrual cup clean without boiling water & while traveling here.
8. It may cause vaginal irritation or an allergic reaction
While not very common, experiencing irritation or allergic reaction is possible. Always wash your hands and menstrual cup well before and after use to prevent irritation.
Additionally, boil the menstrual cup for the recommended amount of time at the beginning and end of each period and ensure to store the cup correctly and that it is completely dry when keeping it.
9. You may forget that you have it
Like mentioned earlier, sometimes, menstrual cup users forget that they are wearing it because of how incredibly comfortable it is.
This can be kind of tricky because, while rare, sometimes girls forget their cup for 24 hours or even a few days!
While the possibility of experiencing some terrible consequences, there are still small risks of experiencing uncomfortable health issues, like vaginal irritation, unpleasant odor, increased risk of a bacterial infection, or disruption of the natural pH balance.
To prevent that, you can add reminders on your phone to remind you to remove your menstrual cup in the morning and before going to bed every day. Follow my guide in case you left your menstrual cup in for over 24 hours.
There you have it – all the advantages and disadvantages of menstrual cups I found after a couple of years of using one.
For me, the pros outweigh the cons, and if you are wondering if you should try it, I recommend doing it!
Did I miss an advantage or disadvantage that you’ve experienced? Please share it in the comments below.