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Let’s talk about periods.

Periods are no fun but with today’s innovations and mindfulness of body positivity, there have been more products geared towards helping women or those who menstruate deal with the cycles a lot easier.

One product, you guessed it, is the menstrual cup.

Although patented in the late 18th century, it wasn’t until recently that the menstrual cup became a popular period product.

But wait, what is a menstrual cup and what exactly does it do?

The menstrual cup is a small cup made of silicone or rubber that is inserted into the vagina to catch and collect the flow of a period. It can be worn for up to 12 hours and be easily rinsed after use.

Some people love it, some hate it.

What’s to consider before buying?

the positives:

Sustainability

According to Stanford magazine, on average a woman typically goes through 12 billion pads and seven billion tampons in the United States alone, which accumulates to 300 pounds each year of discarded waste.

The great thing about the cup is its re-usability, making it durable for at least a decade, with proper care, which is much more cost effective.

Safety

Although rare, tampons are more likely to cause toxic shock syndrome.

Toxic shock syndrome is a sudden and potentially fatal condition caused by the release of toxins from an overgrowth of bacteria called staphylococcus aureus, or staph, found in women’s bodies. Tampons, especially super or super plus ones, that are left in the vagina for a long time may encourage the bacteria to grow and lead to toxic shock syndrome.

With the cup, it only collects the blood rather than absorbing it, like a tampon does, meaning it is less likely to form bacteria.

Cost

There’s no denying that a menstrual cup comes at a hefty price, typically ranging from $20 to $40 with no return policy. But on average, throughout a lifetime, women will spend nearly two thousand dollars on period products including pads and tampons alone. With the menstrual cup, there’s no worry about spending $7 a month on a box of tampons or pads.

the negatives:

Insertion and removal

Depending on who you ask, for some it’s easy, but in my case, this was the most challenging part. When it comes to insertion, most boxes provide instructions on how to do so.

First, always clean and disinfect not only your hands, but the cup itself: the best way is to boil it in a whisk. After cleaning, it’s time to fold the menstrual cup for insertion. There are two ways to go about this: the c-fold where the top rim of the menstrual cup is folded in half, creating a u shape or the push down fold where you push one side of the rim down into the cup, creating a narrow point. Neither are comfortable personally.

Now it’s time to insert.

Like you would a tampon, get in a comfortable position insert slowly toward the direction of your tailbone. when inside, the cup should open inside the vagina, and the base and stem should be able to glide in. Now you could set and forget it, but most brands recommend rotating the cup by the base to ensure it is sealed and secure.

Now to get it out,

After washing your hands and getting in a comfortable position, gently pull the stem until you feel the base of the menstrual cup, then pinch the base of the cup to break the suction seal to pull the whole cup out. After, empty out, clean and re-insert when ready.

Sounds easy right? Wrong.

It can be extremely difficult, especially with the suction force. When removing, it must be in one full motion with a decent amount of arm strength. If it is not removed in one motion, it will slowly glide back up in its original position.

The blood

You’re always going to see your menstrual cycle, there’s no getting out of that one, but seeing it in a cup is a whole other story. It depends on the person, but it is a thing to consider before buying because you will have to face it. The only upside is that there’s no odors.

Finding the right fit

For obvious reasons, once you use the menstrual cup, there’s no returning it. Believe it or not, the cup is not one size fits all.

Mia Minnucci

Suffolk '23

Mia Minnucci is a junior at Suffolk University majoring in print/web journalism and has been a member of Her Campus Suffolk since her freshman year. Currently Mia is living on campus in Downtown Boston, where she loves to explore the city, go thrift shopping and going out to eat with friends.
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