For me, menstrual cups are a godsend. To some people, they’re an uncomfortable, one-time experiment that will never work for them. With most people firmly in one camp or another, it can be hard to find neutral information that isn’t trying to convince you to use a menstrual cup or stay away forever. So is there a definitive truth in between these extreme poles?
It depends. That sounds like a useless answer when you’re considering whether a menstrual cup will work for you, but the choice comes down to a range of factors. To sum it up and help you decide, here’s a list of the pros and cons.
Pro: Less expensive over time
Once you’ve bought a menstrual cup, you can keep using it for years instead of having to fork out for pads and tampons every cycle. As a broke student, that’s been one of the biggest advantages of menstrual cup use.
Con: Big one-time cost
Buying a menstrual cup for the first time is a big expense – they can be priced anywhere up to $70. Menstrual cups don’t offer an immediate saving to compensate for that cost. Compounded by the added risk that you’ll hate it, buying a menstrual cup is going to require some disposable income. If finance is a concern, Wā Collective has begun to offer discounted cups for students.
Pro: Good for the environment
Pads degrade in landfills for hundreds of years, while tampons are notorious for clogging waterways. People with vaginas have about 450 periods in their lifetimes… That’s a lot of disposable period products. With a menstrual cup, the only environmental impact you’re creating is chucking some blood down a toilet. That said, sanitary products only account for 0.5 per cent of the rubbish you make in your lifetime, so if you prefer to use tampons and pads, you can work on reducing the other 99.5 per cent to reduce any guilt you might feel.
Con: Messy (a LOT of blood)
If you’re the kind of person who faints at the sight of blood, a menstrual cup is not for you. It sits in your vagina, collecting blood, and you have to empty that blood into the toilet. Plus, despite what the FAQ sections of menstrual cup sites tell you, sometimes that blood does get on your hands.
Pro: Change less frequently
Menstrual cups have a greater capacity than tampons or pads and they leak less, so theoretically you can change them less often. Be aware though that research into menstrual cups and toxic shock syndrome is in its infancy, and we don’t know enough to reliably be able to say that you should change them less frequently.
A friend told me that the first time she used a menstrual cup, she could feel it inside her the entire day and felt so uncomfortable that she didn’t try to use it again for a year. Most of the time, issues with comfort can be resolved by making sure the cup is in the right position, but sometimes the discomfort persists. If it does, that sucks and I would stop using it. No one needs more pain when they’re on their period.
Pro: Shorter periods
Based on entirely anecdotal evidence from myself and a few friends (plus some online forums), if you have a heavy flow your period might become shorter using a cup. The length of my period went from 7 days to 5 days. I theorise that cups are simply more effective at catching all of the blood rather than absorbing/blocking it.
Con: Cups and hygiene
Initially it was thought that cups created no risk of TSS; that is not true. What’s more, you should be sterilising them thoroughly and frequently. That can be time-consuming compared to a throwaway tampon or pad, plus an ideal sterilisation process would involve owning multiple menstrual cups (i.e. spending more money).
In the end, what works for you works for you. To figure out whether a menstrual cup is a good option, you’ll have to try it. But it’s an option and it’s out there. If pads and tampons aren’t perfect for you, there’s an alternative to consider.Support Villainesse