Having your period each month is both empowering and inconvenient. We love what our female bodies are capable of doing, but do you have any idea what’s even inside your tampon or pad?
Because we love our bodies, we want product options that make having our monthly period easier, and we want those products to be safe not only for our bodies, but for the environment, too. Considering the average woman will menstruate for 38-40 years and produce around 300 pounds of feminine hygiene waste, finding something that’s a bit more sustainable than the average feminine care product is important.
If you’ve already made the switch to organic tampons, pads, and liners, then you’re already in the right direction towards being more environmentally friendly with your period care. If you have no tolerance for waste, you might consider even greener, more sustainable options. One of those options is the menstrual cup: a flexible, reusable cup inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid. We promise it’s completely sanitary, and completely awesome.
In fact, a 2011 study found that out of 110 tampon purists, 91 decided to make the permanent switch to a menstrual cup after using it only once. That’s some pretty convincing evidence for the usability, comfort, and convenience of the menstrual cup.
If you’re not sold, read on to find out everything you need to know about how a menstrual cup works, including how to properly insert, remove, and wash it.
What is a Menstrual Cup, and Why Should You Try It?
Tampons, pads, and liners have been a part of your life since early adolescence. You’re comfortable with them because you know them and how they work. However familiar, actually changing your hygiene products isn’t something anyone actually looks forward to. Having a period can take you out of the game, especially if you’ve got a heavy flow.
Menstrual cups offer a solution that gives you uninterrupted protection while reducing your environmental footprint by keeping feminine hygiene products out of landfills and sewers.
So how does this magical cup work? It’s simple. A menstrual cup is inserted into your vagina, similar to the way a tampon is inserted. The cup seals the opening of your vagina completely, so you don’t have to worry about leaks, and... that’s it. The cup catches your period for up to 12 hours with zero need to change it, check it, or even think about it.
When you’re done using it, simply rinse it and reinsert for another shift. A menstrual cup can last up to 10 years with proper care, which means you’ll be saving the planet, while doing your wallet a favor, too.
Concerned it won’t be effective? That’s understandable. How could a silicone cup prevent leakage and catch enough of your flow to not need changing for 12 hours? Thankfully, researchers have studied menstrual cups and their effectiveness, and their studies show that menstrual cups are not only safe for your body and the environment, they’re also equally as effective in preventing leaks as other forms of feminine hygiene products.
This is pretty exciting news for those of us who have been searching for a more sustainable feminine care option. If you’re ready to give menstrual cups a try, you should know how to properly insert, remove, and care for them. It’s super easy, and in practically no time you’ll be a menstrual cup pro.
How Do I Get This in There?
Don’t panic, we promise it will fit and it’ll even be pretty comfortable.
First, you need to make sure you’ve got the correct size. Menstrual cups are typically available in different sizes, depending on your level of flow and whether or not you’ve had children. Rael menstrual cups are available in three different sizes to fit your body’s specific needs.
Before using your cup, rinse it with extremely hot water to sterilize it. This is important in ensuring your cup is always clean and ready to be used.
Pro tip: Avoid drying your cup after you wash it. Keeping your cup a little wet will help you with insertion.
Now that your cup is clean, you’re ready to insert it. You can do it in 3 easy steps.
- Fold. There are numerous ways you can fold your menstrual cup in order to insert it-seriously, a Google search will reveal at least 10 different folding options.
We recommend three different folds that we think are the easiest and most effective.
C-Fold. The C-fold (or U-fold) is the most popular method of menstrual cup folding. To perform a C-Fold, simply hold the cup in your dominant hand. Using your index finger, press one side of the flexible silicone cup against the other. Then squeeze the sides together (essentially folding the cup in half). This will cause the top of the cup to look like a “C” or “U.”
Punch-down. The punch-down fold is popular because it creates a slimmer insertion point at the top of the cup, which can be especially helpful for new users. To perform the punch-down fold, hold the cup in your dominant hand. Using your index finger, punch down one side of the flexible silicone cup until it touches the bottom of the cup. Next, squeeze the top edges of the cup together.
7-Fold. Don’t worry, it’s not actually a seven-step process. This fold is really simple. Squeeze your cup together so that it’s flat, then fold one side down across the cup, like you would dog-ear a page in a book. If you’ve done it correctly, you’ll see that the folded part resembles the number 7.
Once you’ve folded your cup, you’re ready to insert it.
- Insert. Inserting your cup is very similar to inserting a tampon. Keeping your cup folded, you’ll simply insert the top of the cup into your vagina. The cup should be placed inside your vagina entirely, with the bottom tip accessible for removal.
Pro tip: If you’re new, or are just having a difficult time, you can wet your cup or add a little lubricant to the tip to help get it inserted.
If your cup pops open before you’ve gotten it fully inserted, don’t freak out, you may not need to remove it completely. Attempt to give it a gentle push to see if you can get it properly placed. If that doesn’t work, simply remove the cup, refold, and try again.
- Rotate and tug. Once your cup is inserted, you’ll twist it at the base to help it “pop” open and create a seal. You will be able to feel the cup open, but once it is open, you shouldn’t feel discomfort. Gently tug on the bottom tip of the cup to ensure there’s a good seal.
If your cup is still folded, or you feel a crease in the side, you can use your index finger to gently pop out the side of the cup that is not properly sealed.
That’s it! Your cup is now securely in place. You can feel confident and carefree, and go back to your regularly scheduled life for the next 12 hours!
How Do I Get it Out and Wash It?
We know what you’re thinking; “It’s going to get messy.” Actually, nothing is further from the truth. Menstrual cups are very hygienic. In fact, most women who switch to menstrual cups have fewer leaks and accidents during their periods.
Removing a menstrual cup is super easy, however if it’s your first time, it’s a good idea to remove it in the shower in case you accidentally spill it while removing it.
To remove, follow these steps:
- Gently pinch the stem and bottom of the cup to break the seal. This should allow the cup to move freely out of your vagina.
- Shimmy the cup out of your vagina, working slowly and steadily. Do not attempt to yank or rip the cup out by the stem. Once the top of the cup is at the edge of your vaginal opening, press the top sides of it together to create a seal so that nothing spills out. Remove the cup completely from your vagina, holding it upright.
- Empty the contents of your cup into your toilet, or if in the shower, down the drain.
If you need to reinsert your cup, follow the insertion method above.
If you’re done using your cup for the day, you can rinse your cup with warm water, and clean it with mild soap. It’s best to store your cup in its original container. If you don’t have it, you can store it in a clean, dry place until you need to use it next.
Where Can I Buy a Menstrual Cup?
If you’re ready to try the cup ASAP, we can help! Rael offers high-quality, comfortable menstrual cups in three different sizes. We also offer a menstrual cup set that includes a convenient storage case, so you never have to worry about where to place your cup once you’re done with it. Added bonus: the case helps extend the life of your menstrual cup!
Your period doesn’t have to interrupt your life. Menstrual cups are easy to use and environmentally friendly. Try it now and have a better period with Rael.