The menstrual cup: everything for well-informed users!
The menstrual cup is a reusable internal hygienic protection. Ecological alternative to disposable tampons, it is appreciated for its economical side and zero waste. What is she like ? How to use it safely? What to pay attention to when choosing a quality cup?
A menstrual cup: what is it?
It has the shape of a soft cup or a bell, ending in a small rod or a small ring. It is made of silicone, rubber or latex. She is the menstrual cup: one of the modern and economical hygienic protections presenting a real zero waste alternative to disposable tampons.
The principle is simple: the cup does not absorb blood, it collects it and retains it until it is emptied at regular intervals by its users.
How to use the menstrual cup?
The introductions being made, we come to the heart of the matter: the cup, how to place it? In theory, positioning a cup presents no more difficulty than applying a tampon. In practice, some changes are to be expected. First of all, you should know that the cup must be clean before using it. A little sterilization in boiling water will do (especially no bleach: cup and chlorine do not mix). Are the hands and the cup clean? We can get started! First step, we fold the cup in half to introduce it more easily into the vagina. Once in position, it unfolds on its own. There, it marries the vaginal walls and adheres to the mucous membranes tightly to prevent leakage. Depending on the model, the capacity of the cup can vary from 10 to more than 35 ml (the equivalent of 2 tampons).
To remove the cup, gently pull on the small stem. You can also pinch the base of the cup directly to avoid the suction cup effect and push lightly with the muscles of the perineum. Be sure to keep your cup vertical to be sure to avoid any risk of leaks.
Final step: the contents of the cup are emptied into the toilet, before rinsing it carefully and replacing it.
How to maintain the menstrual cup?
Sterilization between two uses is not always possible, so the safest thing is to wash your cup with soap or better with a dedicated cleaner (unscented and pH neutral) in the nearest sink before replacing it. On the other hand, you will have to go through the sterilization box at the end of the cycle or just before the next cycle. The operation consists of boiling the menstrual cup in order to rid it of germs and bad bacteria lodged on the surface. Sterilization can be done in a pan or in the microwave.
Why take so many precautions you ask? To avoid any risk of vaginal infections or toxic shock syndrome (TSS) . Indeed, the menstrual cup contributes to the stagnation of blood inside the vagina. After a while, this stagnant blood can promote the proliferation of staphylococci aureus responsible for vaginal infections. Naturally present on the mucous membranes, these bacteria can in the worst case be the cause of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Particularly devious, staphylococci aureus are able to withstand conventional washing. Only sterilization with boiling water between each use can overcome it.
How to be sure to choose a quality cup?
In order to choose a quality cup, ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety) recommends selecting internal hygienic protections displaying the following information:
- Warning about toxic shock syndrome and the symptoms prompting you to quickly consult your gynecologist or doctor;
- Warning for users who have already been diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome for whom the use of internal sanitary protection is not recommended;
- Recommendations on maximum wearing time (approximately 4 to 6 hours) excluding wearing the cup for a whole night's sleep;
- Indications on the essential hygiene measures (hand washing, disinfection of the cup between each use);
- Details on the rules of use (the cup must be worn exclusively during menstruation and emptied regularly).
Menstrual cup: the pros and cons
After listening to the feedback of many users, here are the good points that can be credited to the cup .
- First strong point: the cup is a zero waste reusable hygienic protection that can last several years. Say goodbye to disposable tampons that are harmful to the environment.
- Second strong point: the cup is economical. Its cost oscillating between 15 and 30 euros is profitable from 6 months of use.
- Third strong point: the cup can be changed less frequently than a tampon (never beyond an interval of 4 hours): its capacity can go up to 35 ml (i.e. the equivalent of 2 tampons);
- Fourth strong point: the cup is hypoallergenic and respectful of the vaginal flora . It is an attractive alternative for users for whom internal hygienic protection rhymes with mycosis, irritation and infection.
Because every medal has a reverse, here are the weak points often cited about the cup.
- First drawback: the cup can be difficult to handle at first. Its insertion sometimes requires a lubricant when the menstrual flow is light. In most cases, you can say goodbye to long nails if you don't want to hurt yourself when putting it on and taking it off. Not to mention the many small accidents caused by the famous suction cup effect. In addition to unexpected splashes or bloodstains, removing the cup can be a little painful.
- Second drawback: the cup must be emptied in the toilet and cleaned at most every 4 hours. This constraint implies the proximity of a water point. In case of heavy periods, it will be necessary to repeat the operation 3 to 5 times a day!
- Third disadvantage: the cup may not be recommended for some women. These include users wearing an IUD (low risk of expulsion due to the suction cup effect) and young mothers in the weeks following childbirth.
- Fourth disadvantage: the prolonged use of the cup carries as much risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome) as that of a tampon. It cannot therefore be worn for more than 4 hours in a row. It is therefore impossible to wear a cup during a night's sleep. It will then also be necessary to plan to invest in external protection such as menstrual panties with an anti-bacterial material.
The winning duo Cup + menstrual panties will also be the ideal option for sportswomen and all those who prefer to plan ahead by always having an alternative solution at hand.