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What Is a Menstrual Cup?

Menstrual cups offer an alternative to traditional pads and tampons. Many menstrual cups are reusable, while others are designed for single-use only. One of the major benefits of menstrual cups is that they can be used over and over again, so you won’t need to buy period pads or tampons every month. This can be especially appealing to women who are concerned about the environment and the waste that pads and tampons create.

How Does a Menstrual Cup Work?

Menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina during a woman’s period and work by collecting rather than absorbing blood. Most manufacturers say that you can leave the cup in for up to 12 hours. When the cup is inserted properly, it should form a seal that prevents leakage. Once the cup is full, you can simply empty it, wash it out, and reinsert it. While the convenience and monetary savings of not having to go through multiple pads and tampons every month can be a great benefit, it is important to know that menstrual cups can sometimes be messy to empty out and clean. It is very important to properly clean your menstrual cup between uses and sanitize it in between period cycles, so if you are squeamish or not comfortable cleaning your cup regularly, a menstrual cup may not be right for you.

How to Choose a Menstrual Cup

There is no one-size-fits-all best menstrual cup. Instead, there are many menstrual cup brands and styles to choose from. Some popular menstrual cup brands include: Diva Cup, Lily Cup, Moon Cup, and the disposable menstrual cup called Softcup. Each menstrual cup is slightly different, just like each woman’s anatomy, so you may need to try a few brands before you find that perfect fit. Most brands of menstrual cups offer two sizes to choose from, usually depending on whether you have given birth vaginally or not. Remember – the best menstrual cup for you is the one that fits comfortably, is easy to insert and remove, and does not leak.

Are Menstrual Cups Safe?

Just like with tampons, when used correctly menstrual cups are generally safe. However, it is important to know that in contrast to popular belief, recent studies have shown that menstrual cups do carry a risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), just like tampons. You can cut down on your risk by following proper usage recommendations like not wearing the cup for longer than the maximum recommended timeframe. For most cups, the limit is 12 hours, but you should refer to your menstrual cup’s instructions to be sure. Experts suggest sterilizing the cup in boiling water in between each use instead of just once a month in between your period cycles; it can be helpful to purchase two cups so you can wear the clean one while you sanitize the other. You should also be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before inserting the cup. If you have questions or concerns, you should talk to your doctor.

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