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IS MENSTRUAL CUP SAFE AND EFFECTIVE TO USE?

Menstrual cup has become a popular choice for women nowadays when it comes to their period, apart from pads and tampons.

In fact, the first prototypes of menstrual cups were patented in America around 1860’s and 1870’s. They were known as ‘catamenial sacks'. It was invented then but never made to the market.

It wasn’t until 1937, when actress Leona Chalmers invented the first modern menstrual cup, which was made from rubber latex. However, the company was forced to shut down due to shortage of rubber latex during World War II.

In the early 1950’s when the war ended, the 1930’s version re launched as ‘Tassete’ but the idea of using reusable hygiene products couldn’t convince all women back then, and also with those that happy with the product didn’t need to repurchase as it is reusable. Hence it disappeared in the market once again.

In the beginning of 21st century, menstrual cups were re-made using medical grade silicone. This is a huge leap as people with allergy to rubber latex could now start using the product and since then has become a popular option for women worldwide to choose from.​


woman holding menstrual cup


WHAT IS A MENTRUAL CUP?

Menstrual cup is a small, flexible funnel shape, reusable feminine hygiene product. It made of silicone, latex rubber or plastic that women can insert into their vaginas to catch and collect their menstrual flow. It is an eco-friendly alternative to tampons and depend on your flow, a cup could hold more blood than other methods and up to 12 hours straight without the need to change regularly like pads. Here are a few brands available in New Zealand: Haakaa Flow Cup, Lunette Cup, My Cup, The Hello Cup, Lily Cup, Moon Cup etc. There are also disposable menstrual cups available on the market too.


HOW TO USE MENSTRUAL CUP?

Menstrual cups are mostly available from many brands in small and large size. Small sized menstrual cup is recommended for women under 30 years old who haven’t given birth before. Large sized menstrual cup is recommended for women over 30 or post childbirth or have heavier flow. When it comes to choosing the right menstrual cup size for you, there are a few factors to consider. These include age, cup capacity, how heavy is your flow, length of your cervix, flexibility or firmness of cup, pre or post childbirth and your pelvic floor muscles’ strength. You will know if you have selected the right sized cup if you don’t feel it in your vagina after insertion, there is no leakage while using and the cup is partially full when removing. If the cup is really full and you start to have leakage, the cup will just need to be empty more often than 12 hours mark.


Insertion Before touching and inserting your menstrual cup, always make sure that you wash your hands and dry thoroughly. Find a position that you feel comfortable with, either stand, squat, sit with your knees apart on toilet seat or put one leg up and make sure that you are relaxed as tension makes it harder for cup insertion. Place your finger on the edge of the cup, fold into the center or squeeze down to make a triangle shape. This will make the edge smaller and easier for insertion. Hold the folded cup firmly in your hand and gently insert into the vagina in straight angle. Once it is in, slowly remove your fingers to let the cup pop open inside. You may need to rotate it slightly to make sure it rests correctly against the vagina’s walls. You will know if the cup is in the right position when the stem is even with the vaginal opening, and there is resistance from the vacuum seal if you try to pull on the stem.


How to remove Always make sure that you wash your hands and dry thoroughly before touching the menstrual cup. Pull gently on the stem and squeeze the base of the cup to break the vacuum seal, then start pulling slowly until the cup is completely remove. Empty the menstrual fluid into the toilet and rinse with warm water before reinserting.


How to clean After each removal, empty and rinse the cup with warm water before inserting. If your period has finished, simply boil the cup in water for 2 to 3 minutes to sterilize, leave dry then place it back inside its case. You could also wash it with warm water and soap, there are many soaps option available specifically for menstrual cup care.


Safety Always follow the directions that came with your cup as it could be different between brands. It may take couple times before you get it right with the cup. In the beginning you could have a pad as backup just in case until you are extremely confident with placing the cup correctly. Check your cup’s condition regularly. Discontinue if experience pain and discomfort while using and replace if any sings of damage to your cup. Choose the right cleaning soap for your menstrual cup. Do not leave the inserted cup in your vagina for longer than 12 hours to reduce the risk of contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS, a rare and life-threatening bacterial infection) ​

WHAT ARE PROS AND CONS OF MENSTRUAL CUP?

Pros

Eco friendly, can be reuse and recycle Save money spending on pads or tampons each month Save on time. Pads and tampons need to change regularly, menstrual cup can hold blood for up to 12 hours No odor. Menstrual fluid when exposed to air, creates unpleasant odor. Cup eliminates this issue Keep pH level balance. Pads and tampons can upset your body’s normal pH level, this also preserves the healthy bacteria to protect your vagina against infection


Cons

Cup can be messy, can be uncomfortable to clean the cup in public toilet Require proper cleaning, to prevent serious infection Insertion & removal needs some practices to get use to

I hope that this story would make you feel confident in deciding to make a switch and to choose the right menstrual cup for you.

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