What is a menstrual cup?

What is a menstrual cup?

Ever wondered about that alternative menstrual product gaining popularity? That's the menstrual cup! If you're entirely new to the concept, or maybe curious but a little hesitant, this guide is here to shed light on what is a menstrual cup? and how it might be a good fit for you.

What is a Menstrual Cup?

It is a menstrual product that is small, very soft, and flexible. It is made of silicone having  a funnel shape. Women insert it into the vagina to collect period blood. Nowadays, it is gaining popularity due to its benefits. 

It is eco-friendly, it can be used repeatedly after washing, you can use it for a minimum of 5 years, it is budget friendly and good for health.

Menstrual cups are more comfortable than pads and tampons and can collect more blood than other traditional period products. According to Healthline, you can wear it for 6 to 12 hours, although this can vary depending on your flow and the size of the cup. Women find menstrual cups more comfortable, affordable and easy to use than pads and tampons.

When you buy it, it usually comes with a pouch to keep it in and instructions on how to use it. It's made from silicone, which is comfy and bounces back to its original shape easily. you might find it in different colors, but it's generally see-through. The important thing is that it's safe for your body and won't cause any problems. 

When was menstrual cup invented?


Leona Chalmers patented the first menstrual cup in 1937. This early version, shaped like a bell, has been used in similar forms by over 12 different brands of reusable menstrual cups that are still available today.

But Making the menstrual cup was tough during World War II because it was made from rubber, which was hard to find. 

Related Post: How to use a menstrual cup?

When did menstrual cups become popular

In the 1960s, the person who invented it, Leona Chalmers, tried again with a bigger company, but women didn't like it because it was too stiff and they felt shy about putting it in. So, it didn't do well. Then, in the early 2000s, they brought it back, but this time it was made from softer silicone, which more people liked, so it became more popular.

Benefits of Menstrual Cups

Let's explore some of the reasons why many people are making the switch:

1:Cost Savings and Environmental Impact: 

Menstrual cups are a one-time purchase that can last for several years with proper care. This saves a significant amount of money compared to continuously buying disposable pads or tampons.

By choosing a reusable option, you're reducing the amount of waste generated by menstrual products. This contributes to a healthier environment by decreasing the number of products ending up in landfills or oceans.

2:Odor Control:

Unlike pads and tampons, which can sometimes lead to odors due to exposure to air, menstrual cups keep the menstrual fluid sealed inside. This prevents any embarrassing odors, providing greater confidence and comfort.

3: Convenience and Reduced Trips to the Store:

Menstrual cups can be worn for a longer time than tampons.. With cups, you can go up to 12 hours before needing to empty them, reducing the frequency of changes.
Fewer trips to the store are needed since menstrual cups can last for years. This saves time and effort, especially for individuals with busy schedules.
4: Longer Wear Time:
Menstrual cups can hold more fluid than tampons or pads, making them suitable for heavy flow days. This allows for extended wear times, even during active lifestyles or overnight.
5: Ease of Use:
While there may be a learning curve initially, many users find menstrual cups easy to use once they get the hang of it. The process becomes intuitive over time, similar to inserting a tampon. There is complete guide how o use a menstrual cup.
6: Safety and Health Considerations:
Menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone or similar materials, which are safe for use inside the body. Unlike tampons, they do not pose a risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare but serious condition.
They also do not disrupt the vaginal pH balance or cause dryness, reducing the risk of irritation, infection, or discomfort.
8: Leak Protection and Comfort:
When inserted correctly, menstrual cups form a seal against the vaginal walls, providing reliable leak protection, even during physical activities such as swimming or exercise.
Cups are typically made of flexible materials, which conform to the body's shape for a comfortable fit. This allows for greater freedom of movement compared to traditional menstrual products.
9: Sexual Intimacy:
Some soft disposable menstrual cups can be worn during sexual activity without interfering with intimacy. This can provide added convenience and spontaneity for individuals and their partners.
10: Compatibility with IUDs:
Studies have shown that menstrual cups can be safely used alongside intrauterine devices (IUDs) without affecting their effectiveness or causing displacement. This offers a convenient option for individuals using both forms of contraception.
11: Promotion of Menstrual Health Awareness:
By using menstrual cups, individuals become more engaged with their menstrual cycles and bodily functions. This can lead to increased awareness and empowerment regarding menstrual health and hygiene practices.

12: Active Lifestyle Ally:

Enjoy swimming, running, or any activity without worry! Menstrual cups stay put and provide reliable leak protection.

Menstrual Cup Disadvantages

1: Messiness and Learning Curve:
Emptying the cup can be messy, especially for beginners. It may take some time to develop a technique and overcome any discomfort with handling menstrual blood. Cleaning the cup in public restrooms can also be challenging.
2: Difficulty with Insertion:
Inserting the cup can be tricky, particularly for younger individuals or those who have not had intercourse. Additionally, if you have an IUD, there's a risk of accidentally displacing the IUD strings while using the cup.
3: Fit Issues:
Individual anatomy variations can make it difficult for some people to find a comfortable and secure fit with the cup. Conditions such as a dropped uterus or uterine prolapse may affect proper placement.
4: Removal Challenges:
Removing the cup requires practice and proper technique. Pulling on the stem can cause discomfort, so it's important to pinch the base gently to release the suction before removal.
5: Sterilization Requirement:
Menstrual cups need to be sterilized between menstrual cycles to maintain hygiene. This typically involves boiling the cup in water, which may not always be convenient.
6: Finding the Right Fit:
Menstrual cups come in different sizes and shapes, and finding the right fit may require trying out multiple brands. It can take some trial and error to find the cup that works best for your body.
7: Allergic Reactions and Irritation:
Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the materials used in menstrual cups, such as silicone or rubber. Improper cleaning and care of the cup can also lead to vaginal irritation.
8: Increased Risk of Infection:
If not cleaned and cared for properly, menstrual cups can potentially increase the risk of vaginal infections. It's important to follow proper hygiene practices, including washing hands before and after handling the cup.
9: Challenges in Public Restrooms:
Emptying and rinsing the cup in public restrooms can be inconvenient and uncomfortable for some individuals, leading to difficulties in maintaining hygiene while using the cup.
10: Disposable Options and Toxic Shock Syndrome:
Disposable menstrual cups are available but may be less cost-effective and environmentally friendly than reusable ones. Additionally, while the risk is lower compared to tampons, there is still a small possibility of toxic shock syndrome associated with menstrual cup use.

Different  Types of Menstrual Cups 

Did you know there's not just one type of menstrual cup? Here's a quick peek at two common varieties:

  • Bell-Shaped Cup: This classic design resembles a small bell and is a popular choice for many users.
  • Disc-Shaped Cup: This flatter option sits lower in the vagina and may be preferred by those with a high cervix or who find bell-shaped cups uncomfortable.


While menstrual cups offer numerous benefits, it's natural to have questions:

  • Learning Curve: Inserting and removing the cup might require some practice, but with a few tries, you'll get the hang of it! 
  • Finding the Right Fit: Menstrual cups come in various sizes and shapes. Don't get discouraged if the first one you try isn't perfect – explore different options to find your ideal fit.
  • Emptying and Cleaning: Menstrual cups require emptying and cleaning periodically. While it might seem messy at first, you'll develop a routine that works for you.

Beyond the Period: Social Impact

Menstrual cups are not just about convenience; they can be a force for positive change. By openly discussing menstrual cups, we can break the stigma surrounding menstruation and empower everyone to have a healthy and comfortable period experience.


Sustainable Disposal of Disposable Cups

While this article focuses on reusable menstrual cups, some disposable options exist. If you choose this route, make sure to dispose of them properly. Look for brands that offer biodegradable disposal options to minimize environmental impact.