I’ve heard so much about menstrual cups but I don’t really know what it is and how it works. Would you recommend them? – Confused, Meath
The Menstrual Cup is a small cup, which should be made of silicon (safest material), inserted into the vagina, and left there for up to twelve hours to collect menstrual blood. You then empty this blood into a toilet, clean the cup and reinsert it. Learning how to insert the cup is quite tricky, more so than a tampon, but manageable! Cleaning the cup properly is very important; you can either place the cup in boiling water for several minutes or soak in sterilising fluid for the period of time recommended on the product instructions. The benefit of the cup is the same as reusable alternatives, better for the environment and long-term savings. As you insert the cup inside your vagina, just like tampons, the use of menstrual cups also carries a risk of TSS, but a clean, properly used menstrual cup means the chances are very small.
As a person who has been menstruating for 13 years and has tried all different options, the menstrual cup works best for me throughout my period, but I will still occasionally wear my period underwear when expecting my period or towards the end, when it is usually quite light for me. I always found pads too uncomfortable and very quickly moved to tampons, but their impact on the environment really bothered me and a few years ago was searching for a good alternative. I found constantly washing my period underwear nearly as wasteful, and then tried the cup. Honestly, it was difficult to insert at first, and I sometimes still need to change its position around to get it just right but have definitely had fewer mishaps with a cup than anything else. Plus I love that it can be safely left in a little longer than a tampon. I have saved so much money over the past few years using a cup, as it cost 30 euro, and has seen me through about 30 periods already! A euro a period is pretty good value. I have only come to this decision after extensive trial and error, leaks, and stains. Everyone is different, so please make your own mistakes and decisions! Go forth and menstruate.”
Check out more advice on periods and puberty in our Ask Shelley series here.