So, you’ve heard about a menstrual cup, but aren’t quite sure how it actually works. You’re not alone. There are some common assumptions (and fears) that most women have about using a menstrual cup, so we’ve brought in guest blogger, Amanda Wilson––founder and innovator of VOXAPOD menstrual cup––to put your mind at ease and breakdown all the deets for you.
So what the heck is a menstrual cup anyway?
A menstrual cup is a small reusable silicone cup that folds and inserts like a tampon. It collects your menstrual flow rather than absorbing it, which means there’s no irritating fibers emitting toxins into your body. After all, did you know the vagina is the most absorbent part of your body––absorbing 80 times more than your mouth? Gulp. So, what you put in there does matter.
Benefits of using a menstrual cup
I mean, does using a menstrual cup actually make your life easier? The short answer is yes, we think so. But, if you’re like most of the population that bleeds every month, you have your go-to period care products that you purchase and use, and would need a fairly compelling argument to make the switch. Sometimes we don’t know things can be better and more comfortable––until we do. On that note, here are some pretty incredible benefits of using a menstrual cup.
1. More time and flexibility.
Most menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, giving you leak-free protection for half of your day. Because menstrual cups contain, rather than absorbs your period fluid, they collect up to 5x more than a tampon—this means it can be worn overnight, so you can sleep without interruption.
2. Safe to use.
Most pads and tampons contain chemical toxins and undergo a bleaching process to make them look more ’clean or ‘sanitary’. High-quality menstrual cups are made with medical-grade silicone, making them naturally hygienic, and eliminating the need for chemical bleaching or toxins that we commonly see with most disposables.
3. Save money.
The average woman has 500 periods and spends about $13 per month, making the average lifetime spend $6500. With proper care, a quality menstrual cup will last for several years, saving you thousands of dollars, and hundreds of trips to the store.
4. Less dryness and discomfort.
Menstrual cups aren't made of cotton fibers, like pads and tampons—which means rather than working against your lubrication, they just slide right in and move comfortably with your anatomy. No more dry, uncomfortable "applications".
5. No more unnatural odors.
The ‘bad’ odor you often smell with disposables is a result of not changing them frequently enough, or due to the bacteria growth on the fibers of your pad or tampon––not your flow alone. With menstrual cups, there’s no foul smell, just your natural vaginal scent. This also means less interruption to your natural pH balance.
6. Feel more clean and free.
No more pee-soaked string or padding to mess with. Because menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours, you can change it in the shower in the morning and again before bed. As a result, users rarely have to change it in a public bathroom––nevertheless, we’ll cover that in a minute.
7. Reduce waste.
There are 1.9 billion humans menstruating on the planet. In the US alone, 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are thrown into our waterways and landfills every year. The average woman menstruates for 38 years, tossing roughly 15,000 used disposables in her lifetime. Making the change to reusable period care is good for everyone, including the planet.
How does a menstrual cup work?
The cup is folded and inserted into the vaginal canal, much like a tampon. The cup should naturally open up once inside the vagina, forming a gentle suction seal with the vaginal wall to prevent leaks and contain your menstrual flow.
There are several menstrual cup folding methods, but these are the most commonly used:
Remember, the VOXAPOD menstrual cup is made of medical-grade silicone, so it will glide in with the help of your natural lubrication, much like a plastic applicator would.
Pro tip: rinse your cup with warm water before inserting to act as lubrication or insert your menstrual cup in the shower to help you (and your vaginal muscles) relax. This can be especially helpful when first learning to use a menstrual cup.
To remove, gently pinch the base of the cup to break the suction seal that was formed, empty contents, rinse cup and reinsert.
When in use, the cup will contour and move with your body during physical activities. There’s little to no sensation of the cup when properly inserted. In fact, most women forget they’re wearing it.
How long can you leave a menstrual cup in?
Wear time for a menstrual cup varies from user to user––mostly depending on how heavy your menstrual flow is. VOXAPOD menstrual cup should be emptied at least every 12 hours. If you have a really heavy flow or heavy flow days, you may find you need to empty it more frequently on those days.
It can be worn overnight, during workouts, showering or bathing and doesn’t need to be removed when going to the bathroom.
How do you clean a menstrual cup?
Before you first use a new menstrual cup or between cycles, you should sterilize your menstrual cup by fully submerging it in boiling water for 5-7 minutes. If using immediately, run cold water over the menstrual cup to bring it to a comfortable temperature for insertion. Otherwise, allow the cup to cool and completely air-dry before storing.
During your cycle, rinse your menstrual cup with cold water first (to help prevent discoloration) and then wash it with warm water before and after each use. If water is not available, you can wipe the cup with a clean tissue or empty and reinsert directly, rinsing at the next opportunity.
How do you clean a menstrual cup in a public bathroom?
Because you can wear most menstrual cups for up to 12 hours, you’ll rarely (if ever) need to change it in a public bathroom, but if you do––don’t worry––it’s pretty easy.
You can either take a water bottle into the stall with you and give it a quick rinse over the toilet before reinserting, or you can empty it and wipe out the inside with toilet paper before reinserting, or just dump and reinsert rinsing at your next opportunity.
Remember, the outside of the cup has your natural lubrication on it, while the menstrual flow is contained inside of the cup, and silicone repels liquid––which means it’s not a messy ordeal like you might’ve thought it would be.
For more great tips on how to manage a menstrual cup in a public bathroom, we’ve got’em for you here.
As a benefit corporation, how is VOXAPOD making a difference?
Working to eradicate the gender gap was always at the heart of creating VOXAPOD. There’s an astonishing amount of girls that miss or drop out of school as a result of not having access to safe and affordable period care. When girls don’t have access to period care, they use unsafe materials like mud, leaves or dirty rags––risking infection.
We know the single most powerful way to combat poverty in the world is through educating girls. When girls complete secondary school, they will marry 4 years later, have 2.2 less children, earn higher wages, have healthier families and reinvest 90% of their earnings back into their locality. When we meet the menstrual health need of a girl, we not only give her a chance at education, but we radically expand her ability to impact her community, both economically and socially.
At VOXAPOD, we donate cups and a portion of every purchase to meet the period care needs of girls in the developing world and here at home, so they can stay in school or go to work. No one should be denied opportunity because of their biology.
Ready to give it a try?
VOXAPOD was kind enough to offer everyone 20% off your purchase! Use code SHARETHELOVE at checkout. You can shop the goods here!
Amanda is a humanitarian, self-proclaimed anthropologist, and mediocre ukulele player. When not adventuring outdoors with her daughters or satiating her epicurean food addiction, her passion is in eradicating the gender gap from a systemic and research-based approach. She believes in the power of diversity and bringing people and resources together to create a more powerful and effective impact.