How to use a menstrual cup and the best to buy

Menstrual cup

by Eleanor Weaver |

Menstrual cups may feel pretty new on the period product scene, but that's just because they're now beginning to edge into the mainstream market. Since the introduction of the first silicone menstrual cup in the early noughties - the renowned Mooncup - they have continued to grow in popularity, especially since we've been looking for more eco-friendly ways to live day-to-day.

Unlike tampons and pads, a menstrual cup can be used time and time again. Helping to cut back on single-use plastics, landfill build-up, and the cost of buying period products. It really adds up!

But what is a menstrual cup and how does it work? If you're cup-curious, we've shared everything you need to know and the best menstrual cups available to buy in the UK.

How does a menstrual cup work?

A menstrual cup is a conical shape cup made of soft and flexible, medical-grade silicone or latex rubber which you insert into the vagina to catch and hold your menstrual blood, rather than absorb it as a tampon or pad would.

How to use a menstrual cup

Before you use your menstrual cup, you should sterilise it first. Placing it in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes and wash your hands before inserting.


Once it's cooled, tightly fold the cup in half to insert with the rim facing up. If this is a little tricky, you could try using a water-based lube on the outside of the cup to help reduce friction.


Position the cup a few inches below your cervix. Slightly lower than a tampon, and then release for a secure fit. Rotate it to create an airtight seal, and adjust or reposition if needed. Much like a tampon, you shouldn't be able to feel any discomfort.


To remove your menstrual cup - in a relaxed position, insert your index finger and thumb into your vagina and squeeze the cup base to release the seal. Then gently remove, keeping the cup upright.


Once it's out, empty your blood into the toilet, rinse, clean and wash, and you're ready to go again!


Don't worry if it takes you a little while to get to grips using a menstrual cup. With practice and usage, you'll become a pro in no time.

Should I use a menstrual cup?

The type of period product you use is completely down to personal preference. But here are some pros and cons to consider if you're thinking about a switch to the cup.

Pros

• Toxic Shock Syndrome is rare with tampon use, and it's even rare with menstrual cups

• As they're reusable, menstrual cups require a one-time purchase, making them much more cost-efficient

• They're great for the environment too. Reusing your menstrual cup is much more eco-friendly compared to using tampons or pads that'll likely end up in landfill

• Depending on your flow, you can wear a menstrual cup for longer between changes. Up to 12 hours - compared to tampons or pads

• As the menstrual cup forms an airtight seal, you're likely to experience less odour

Cons

• Not all sizes are suitable for older women or women that have given birth vaginally, so you'll need to be wary of this when trying to find the right one for you

• If you're allergic to silicone, rubber, or latex, this may not be suitable for you - make sure to check the label before buying to make sure

• Removal can be messy compared to tampons and pads that have absorbency. Likewise, you'll need to rinse out your cup after use, something that you'll need to consider if you're spending a long time away from home

• Menstrual cups are slightly harder to use but will become easier with repeated use

• If you have vaginismus, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids, you should check with your GP first

Which menstrual cup is right for you?

Finding the right option for you might take a bit of trial and error, but thankfully menstrual cups typically come in sizes small and large with guidance from each brand as to which should be the right fit.


You should select your cup size based on your age and history of childbirth - rather than your flow. You might with other period products, what's most important is that the cup is wide enough to stay in place to prevent it from shifting, becoming uncomfortable, or there being any leaks.

A small menstrual cup is recommended if:

• You typically use absorbency tampons

• You haven't had a vaginal birth

• You're under the age of 30

A large menstrual cup is recommended if:

• You have a weak pelvic floor

• You've had a vaginal birth

• You're over the age of 30

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