The menstrual cup is a vaginal barrier used during a woman’s menstrual period. Many women prefer this method of sanitary protection or management over using sanitary pads or tampons. There are two main types of menstrual cups available:

The disposable menstrual cup is usually made of polythene and looks like a contraceptive diaphragm with a diameter of about 3 inches.

The reusable menstrual cup is in the shape of an inverted bell and is usually made from silicone, rubber or thermoplastic elastometer and is usually about two inches long. Though some brands advise yearly replacing, others may be used and reused for up to 10 years.

Some of the plusses of using menstrual cups are:

  • They can collect up to three times the amount of blood and clots that a tampon would be able to. If a woman has endometriosis or heavy periods, this is more suitable than tampons.
  • A lot of waste is created when women use tampons or sanitary towels. On the other hand when you use reusable menstrual cups, they do not create waste of an estimated 11,000 isposable pads or tampons that the average woman will use in the course of her reproductive life. Disposable pads and tampons may cause drain blockages and ecological problems for marine life and may also not be biodegradable.
  • A reusable menstrual cup may be cost effective, since it does not require repeated purchase.
  • Menstrual cups also do not rob the vaginal area of essential moisture the way tampons do.
  • Many types can be worn even during intercourse
  • Some types help to ease period pain since they sit lower in the vagina than tampons and collect rather than absorb the discharge.
  • The stem at the bottom of the cup ensures that it can be accommodated to different lengths of vaginas.

Some of the minuses of using menstrual cups are:

  • They could be difficult to insert and remove. Like tampons, they can take time for a woman to get used to, and before that it may be uncomfortable and strange.
  • It may seem a rather large item to insert into the vagina and could appear intimidating to many women.
  • They are also likely to be messier to remove than tampons. It may be necessary to squat to remove before reinserting.
  • They could be embarrassing to use in public toilets because it needs to be rinsed before being inserted again.

Photo Credit: squiddles