Period Products: Menstrual Cups
- A period cup is worn inside the vagina during her period.
- Period cup cups are reusable and therefore environmentally friendly.
- Similar to tampons, menstrual cups do not change your virginity.
- Using period cups is a personal choice.
Are there other period products available besides tampons and pads?
Yes. If you are looking for a reusable period product, you may want to consider period cups. Unlike tampons and pads that can only be worn once, period cups can be washed and used over and over again.
What is a period cup?
A period cup is a small, soft, flexible cup made of silicone or rubber. It is placed inside the vagina (close to the cervix) during her period. As blood leaves the uterus, it gets trapped inside the cup. Similar to tampons, there are different size cups that hold different amounts of blood, and there are also different brands and styles of period cups. Just like tampons, menstrual cups do not change your hymen or your “virginity.” If you have a small opening in your hymen, you may not be able to put the cup in and out easily. Some may be more comfortable than others.
- Period cups should only be used to collect menstrual blood.
- Menstrual cups will not change your virginity, nor will a tampon.
- You should NEVER leave the cup in for longer than 12 hours.
- Period cups are not a form of birth control. If you are sexually active, talk to your health care provider about the best birth control method for you. Barrier methods such as condoms greatly decrease the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
How do I know which size period cup is right for me?
Period cup sizes vary by brands and can depend on several things, such as how much blood the cup can hold, and your cervix size (length of cervix). Talk with your health care provider (HCP) about which period cup is best for you. Some are more rigid (stiff) so they may be better when you plan on being very active, with sports, etc. In the beginning, it’s a good idea to buy a couple of different styles to find the right fit. Unfortunately, you cannot return them to the store if they do not fit because they are personal hygiene product.
How do I insert a period cup?
- Read and follow the instructions that come with your period cup.
- Before you insert the period cup, empty your bladder (pee) and wash your hands well. You may stand, squat, lay down, or sit at the edge of the toilet or chair.
- Take the cup and fold it so that the top is small and compressed (fold it into a “C” shape or push the lid into the center of the cup).
- Once you have a good grip on the cup and you’re in a comfortable position, use the other hand to separate your labia (skin folds of your vagina) and slowly insert the opening side of the cup first (while keeping it ) into your vagina with your other hand. Try to keep the cup folded as long as you can while you insert it, so it doesn’t open until it’s all the way inside.
- When you can’t hold the folded cup any longer, let it unfold and open. Use your fingers to push the base of the cup so it moves into position. Be sure you don’t push the cup too far back so that you can still grab the base when it’s time to empty it.
- If your cup came with instructions to twist it to confirm placement, you should do this now. You’ll want to twist it one full rotation at the base.
- To make sure it’s inserted correctly, take a finger and circle the opening of your vagina. If you are able to get a finger passed the top of the cup, you need to make an adjustment (revisit step 3).
- You can also gently pull on the stem of the cup to confirm placement. If you feel a bit of resistance that means the suction is working and the cups in the right place!
- Never leave your period cup in your vagina for longer than 12 hours at a time.
How do I remove the period cup?
Removing the cup is easy. Simply follow the following instructions below:
- Begin by washing your hands well with soap and water.
- Removing the cup is easy, as long as you’re applying pressure and in the correct position. You can do this by squatting and bearing down like you’re having a bowel movement (pooping).
- While in the squatting position, pinch the bottom of the cup (to release suction) and pull downwards, making sure you continue to pinch the cups base to prevent any blood from spilling out.
- Once the cup is out, pour the blood into the toilet.
- Next, wash your cup well with soap and water, before reinserting it or storing it.
- Once you are completely finished, be sure to wash your hands again with soap and water.
How often do I have to empty my period cup?
In the beginning it will take a little while to figure out how often to remove and empty the cup. On your heavier flow days (usually Day 1 & 2), you may need to empty the cup more often. However, on your lighter flow days, you will likely need to empty it less often. Since everyone’s menstrual cycle is different, the length of time the cup can stay in is determined by your flow. However: NEVER leave your period cup in your vagina for longer than 12 hours.
Can I leave the period cup in my vagina while I sleep?
As long as it’s not more than 12 hours it’s ok to wear while you sleep. However if you aren’t sure how long you sleep for, it’s better to be safe and use a pad or other period product.
How can I tell how much I am bleeding (when I’m using the period cup)?
Sometimes, your health care provider (HCP) may ask you how often you need to change your pad or tampon. This helps your HCP figure out how much you are bleeding. If you are using a period cup, simply tell your HCP the number of times you need to empty the cup and how full it is when you do. Some cups have measuring lines that makes measuring the amount easier.
Can I wash my period cup?
Yes. It’s super important to wash your period cup with soap and water before you use it for the first time and every time you empty it. Be sure to read the care instructions that come with your cup to make sure you’re cleaning it properly.
What are the tiny holes in the period cup for?
The tiny holes help keep the cup in place by using gentle suction If you clean the tiny holes properly it’s unlikely that your cup will leak, so be sure to clean the cup thoroughly.
Can I use someone else’s period cup?
No. It’s best to buy your own period cup and not share it with anyone. Although the cup is reusable, it is meant to be used by one person. Sharing the cup with others, could lead to the spread of infections.
Can I use a tampon with the period cup?
No. Tampons cannot be used with period cups; however, you can wear a panty liner if you are worried about leakage.
Can I make my own period cup?
No. Doctors do NOT recommend homemade period cups. Using household items as a period cup put you at risk for losing the item (inside your vagina) and/or developing an infection. DIY (do-it-yourself) or homemade period cups are NOT safe.
Where can I buy a period cup?
You can buy a period cup at most pharmacies and online. Here are some period cup brands:
- Ruby Cup®