We often get asked a lot of questions about our menstrual cups. Mostly, women are intrigued by the idea but are unclear about how (or if) this product will work for them.
So, we thought it was time to have an open, honest discussion about this alternative feminine hygiene product because providing sustainable, healthy period care and having open discussions about menstruation is what we are all about.
The fact is, though they seem new and innovative, menstrual cups have actually been around for a while (the first commercial menstrual cup was produced in 1937.) But, the benefits of using them and even their existence seem to have been buried under a mountain of disposable tampons and pads. There are so many myths about menstrual cups and menstruation, in general, floating around these days, that we want to set the record straight.
Ready? Let's dive right in...
One of the first reactions women have after seeing or learning about a menstrual cup for the first time is...
“How is that going to fit inside me?!”
Okay, let's be clear about one thing: there's much more room and flexibility inside you than you think. The vaginal area is an elastic and muscular canal about four to five inches (or 10 to 13 cm) long that can easily stretch and return back to its normal size-- which is exactly what happens during intercourse and childbirth. Second, most menstrual cups are made out of highly malleable silicon. Getting past the insertion point is usually just a matter of experimentation to figure out which folds work best for you.
Menstrual cups also come in all different shapes or sizes. Our Green Rays Menstrual Cup, for example, comes in three sizes to suit different ages, body types, and other life circumstances.
For those of you worried about the hymen, know that menstrual cups can still be used - though it may take a bit more finessing to get the product in correctly. We suggest you consult with a health care professional before using a menstrual cup or any other internal menstrual care product for that matter.
On to the next issue...
How long can you wear it for?
Like our Green Rays Cup, most menstrual cups can be worn for up to twelve consecutive hours and should be emptied, washed and rinsed with water a minimum of two times a day.
Another thing to keep in mind is the capacity of a menstrual cup. Many women wonder how often or quickly it will become full.
For the majority of women, an average monthly flow is about 30 to 60 ml (or 1 to 2 ounces) per cycle, and our menstrual cups are designed to handle such a flow and even heavier. For example, our smallest Green Rays Cup can hold 25 ml, while our biggest can hold a full 40 ml (for a maximum of 12 hours)
But getting a menstrual cup inside is one thing...
Getting it out is another...
Many women are concerned about the “ick factor.” Getting down and dirty doesn't sound like it would be a pleasant experience, would it?
And, hey, is it even sanitary?
The reality is that once you've gotten some practice, you may be surprised at how clean and comfortable removing a menstrual cup can be. Plus, there is the side benefit of being able to monitor how much you are actually bleeding each month. This is unlike tampons and pads that can give you a false impression about your monthly flow due to the way they are designed to absorb fluid.
Menstruation is a natural body process. Getting more in touch with it will get you more in touch with your own body and your level of health, and many find that knowledge empowering.
But, will it smell?
Here is another misconception. Menstrual blood will actually start to smell when it has been exposed to air for a while. With a menstrual cup, there is an almost airtight seal which works to keep that funky odour away.
And, yes, you can go to the toilet with it.
And, no, if it's properly inserted, and you have a bowel movement, it won't come shooting out like some bloody torpedo. Go about your number 1 and number 2 without any double thinking.
So, now you may be wondering if you can sleep with a menstrual cup
As we mentioned above, the capacity of a menstrual cup is pretty high compared to the average woman's monthly flow. Plus, did you know that the average tampon can only hold about 5 ml of fluid? That means you can lie down and sleep without worry for many more hours than you could with a disposable tampon. Actually, you shouldn’t sleep with a tampon!
We do recommend, however, that you empty and clean your menstrual cup before bed. If you have a particularly strong flow, then you may want a second layer of protection, such as a pair of natural period panties, just in case.
But what will happen if you're upside down?
We don't know for sure since everyone is different. Some leaking could happen. But, we do know that it won't flow back into your uterus. So, if you're an advanced yogi and are crazy about inversions then it's probably best to keep your butt near the yoga mat for a few days each month.
Finally, is the menstrual cup safe?
Green Rays Cup is made out of 100% FDA registered biocompatible medical grade silicone. There are no dyes, oils or scents, and they lower the risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
A few final thought.. like anything new, using a menstrual cup will take some getting used to and some experimentation.
But, for those of you looking for a healthy, eco-friendly feminine hygiene product that gives you more freedom to work and play, even during the heaviest parts of your cycle, and empowers you to learn about your body, then you should definitely give the menstrual cup a try.