How does a menstrual cup work?
A menstrual cup is similar to a tampon in that it is inserted into the vagina. However, instead of absorbing the blood as tampons do, menstrual cups collect and store your menstrual flow. After 10-12 hours the cup is removed, emptied, cleaned, then re-inserted for another 10-12 hours.
Are menstrual cups safe?
Short answer... Yes.
Most cups are made from 100% medical grade silicone and manufactured in sterile environments following ISO standards. Companies must adhere to these standards to ensure that their products are safe, reliable and of good quality.
MeLuna cups are made from TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), which has been approved for use in the medical device industry. MeLuna provides an alternative option for ladies with silicone or rubber allergies.
As a form of internal protection, menstrual cups are definitely safer than tampons which are known to leave behind fibers which provide a breeding ground for bacteria. Silicone and TPE both provide an unstable environment, making it near impossible for bacteria to attach and grow.
*Note: It's still important that you thoroughly clean your cup after every cycle*
I've never used a tampon, can I use a menstrual cup?
Yes. Experience with inserting tampons can help you become more familiar and comfortable with your anatomy. You'll just have to become accustomed to inserting a menstrual product.
I'm a virgin. Can I still use a menstrual cup?
Yes you can, there are cups available in smaller sizes that are well suited for virgins. However, you should know that your hymen may break as the cup is inserted and/or removed. If your hymen must remain intact for cultural reasons, then menstrual cups should not be used.
As a virgin, you may want to start out using a small, narrow cup; a small MeLuna may be the best option for your first cup. To make insertion easier, apply a water-based lubricant to your finger and try inserting it into your vaginal canal. For a few minutes each day, use your finger to gently stretch your hymen. You can practice doing so discreetly in the shower while in a relaxed environment.
Always remember to be patient and gentle with yourself. It will take a few tries before you can confidently insert and remove your menstrual cup.
What if it doesn't fit?
Probability is in your favor as less than 1% of women report that menstrual cups don't work for them. Each brand has a different firmness, shape, size, stem and capacity. The key feature that determines whether a menstrual cup fits is its length. Ideally, the rim or top of the menstrual cup will sit just below your cervix while the base of the cup will sit close to your vaginal opening.
Each body is unique, a woman's cervix can be low, medium or high. Before buying a cup, it's best to know which category you fall into. Your menstrual cup will fit as long as you choose a length that is suited to your body. You can learn how to do so here.
Do I need model 1 or model 2?
Menstrual cups are available in two models. Model 1 is usually the smaller size recommended for women under 30 who haven't given birth, and model 2 is recommended for women over 30 and/or those who have given birth. These are not hard and fast rules. Once you maintain a strong pelvic floor after child birth, model 1 can still work for you. And even if you've never had a child, some women still prefer model 2 since the larger size has a higher holding capacity.
As discussed in the previous question, you still need to remain aware of the length of the cup. Before choosing a model always check that the cup won't be too long. This is especially important for model 2 which isn't only wider but usually longer than model 1.
Can I use a menstrual cup if I have heavy periods?
Menstrual cups hold 3x more fluid than pads and tampons. If you experience heavy periods, you'll benefit from increased hours of protection and fewer bathroom breaks when using a menstrual cup. With a heavier flow, your cup may fill faster and need to emptied more often than every 12 hours.
If you soak a tampon or pad every hour for several hours at a time, then you may have menorrhagia. Always seek the qualified recommendations of your gynecologist in such extreme cases.