This past winter my family was going on a beautiful beach vacation. I had been planning this trip for years after it got postponed the first time when I found out I was pregnant with our son. I had a full itinerary planned and most of it involved being in my swim suit... It was going to be a dream! And then I looked at my calendar and realized that my period was due the second day of vacation.
After brief disappointment I became thankful that I switched to using a cup. Eliminating tampons and pads made the beach, pool, and adventures so much easier.
How to use a cup
There are several folds you can use to insert your cup and different folds are recommended for different cups. I personally like the C fold, where you pinch it flat and then fold it in half to look like a c shape. The Hello Cup recommends a different fold, pictured below.
Once you insert the cup you should feel it open fully and create a seal. If you don't feel it open, or the cup is still folded or squishy feeling, you will likely have leaks. When inserted and opened properly the cup should also stay still and be hardly noticeable.
When I am at the heaviest point of my period I empty my cup 2-3 times a day. This means that I often go 8-12 hours between emptying, and I don't know about you, but I rarely go anywhere for over 8 hours so I usually only empty my cup at home. If you do have a change your cup while in public there are cup wipes available to make cleaning easier. If you have more than one cup you could always bring a small wetbag and swap the dirty for a clean one and then do your wash once you're home.
I often will experience some minor spotting on my first day or two of my cycle, which is common with most cups. A bare and boho washable cloth panty liner helps me on those days. Overall, I leak and spot far less with the cup than I ever did with tampons.
To remove a cup, squish the bottom near the toggle to collapse the cup and break the seal. Gently remove it while keeping it vertical in order to not spill. Many people recommend emptying your cup the first few times in the shower. Once your cup is empty you can wash it in the sink with a cup wash or another mild soap. Make sure that the soap You use is mild enough to not affect your pH... all of us ladies know how sensitive that balance is. The cup also needs to be sanitized after each cycle - boiling water or the dishwasher both work great.
Benefits of a cup
Cups are safe. There is still a small chance of Toxic Shock syndrome (or TSS) if they are not cleaned frequently or properly, but the cases of TSS associated with cups is DRAMATICALLY lower than those associated with tampons.
Cups are great for the environment. When cared for properly, one cup can last up to ten years. When I used tampons I would use an average of 5 per day. If I had a regular 5 day cycle every month for 10 years that would contribute about 3000 tampons to a landfill, and while some tampons are beginning to use organic material, most tampons still use plastic applicators, wrappers, and synthetic absorbing material.
Cups save you money. Using the same average of 3000 tampons in 10 years, with a box of 36 tampons costing on average $7, a woman will likely spend at least $580 on tampons alone over the course of 10 years. A cup can cost you anywhere from $20-$35. Which is a whole lot of savings.
Cups are comfortable. I find cups much more comfortable than pads and even more comfortable than tampons. I rarely notice when I am wearing one, even through heavy workouts!
What I wish I had known
Nothing is perfect, especially when it relates to such an annoying time as your period. There are a couple things I wish I had known out of the gate.
1. Cups can stain. I mean, it seems obvious to me now, but it surprised me at first when I would clean my cup well and it still stained over time. I've heard from some friends that there are methods to remove stains from silicone, but I personally don't have the energy to remove stains from a cup that literally no one ever sees.
2. You may still need a liner during your heaviest day or two. I mentioned this earlier, but it's worth mentioning again. Some months I didn't need one, but most months I do for a day. Washable pads and liners are great for this, and I've heard people rave about period panties for the same thing too.
3. Your significant other may freak out when they see your cup. Especially if it's being sanitized in the dishwasher (after being hand washed already, obviously). At least my husband did. Just remind them of the $540 you're saving, that does the trick for my husband!
Have you tried a cup before? What did you think? Let me know if you have any questions! My next blog I will talk specifically about The Hello Cup which is available at PanBam.
Don't forget to use code NIKKI to save 10% at checkout!