In a world that has tampons and sanitary towels at the center stage of feminine hygiene, the term menstrual cups may sound a little strange, weird or even absurd. But contrary to what you might be tempted to think, a good chunk of women in the reproductive age bracket from all over the globe are slowly embracing this new concept. And, yes, you guessed it. It is mostly because a menstrual cup packs so many benefits that are absent in conventional tampons and panty liners.
So what’s a menstrual cup and how is it different from regular tampons?
Just like pads and liners, menstrual cups are sanitary products made of flexible, medical grade and soft silicon. However, unlike tampons and towels, the cups work by collecting rather than absorbing the menstrual fluid. And since it is reusable, you can save a lot of money by substituting your monthly stash of pads with them.
A Quick Primer on a Comprehensive Menstrual Cups Buying Guide
Assuming that you’ve never used or bought a menstrual cup before, shopping for one can be a tricky affair. Unlike tampons and liners which pretty much universal, different cups on the market are tailored for women of different ages and also contrasting physiological status. So finding one that works perfectly for you is hardly a straightforward affair.
Nonetheless, we will make things easier by highlighting some of the important details that you should be on the look out for.
The Cup’s Capacity
Yes, you heard me right. Menstrual cups come in different sizes since (as you already know) some women experience heavier or lighter flow than others. Again, women who have ever given birth in the past, not surgically but through the vaginal opening, tend to have different pelvic floor muscles compared to those who are yet to enter the child-bearing phase. Similarly, women above 30 years old experience heavier or inconsistent flows than their younger counterparts.
With that backdrop, most menstrual cups brands offer at least two or three sizes. If you’re below 27 years and haven’t yet given birth, then the cups of the least size are best suited for you. Depending on the brand you prefer, the collecting capacity could be anywhere between 24 – 27 ml.
Secondly, if you already have a child (surgically or vaginally) or above 30 years old, then the larger size is probably your best pick. The capacity of these cups should be anywhere in the vicinity of 29 ml.
The Material Used in its Construction
Reusable menstrual cups are either made from silicon, thermoplastic elastomer (PE) or natural rubber/latex. Now, without a doubt, silicon cups are typically the longer lasting alternative and can put up with several months or years of use. They are also the pricier variety compared to TPE and latex cups. However, if you are allergic to either medical grade silicone or latex, your only alternative could be the thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) cups. Polyethylene cups, like Softcup, are another practical alternative for those who are highly allergic to latex and natural gum although they have a relatively poor shelf-life.
Stemmed or Stemless?
60% of menstrual cups manufactured today have stems or handles at the base. The handle stem is meant to assist with the removing and inserting of the cup in the vaginal orifice. Under this type, we have different kinds of ‘stems’ used by various menstrual cups designers. This includes; ball, hollow, solid, flat and ring stems.
Beginners might find the stem a useful feature although most women find themselves doing just find even when using stemless cups. In any case, sometimes using a stemmed cup can be an uncomfortable affair especially if you’re coming from using sanitary towels and not tampons. Fortunately, you can easily cut and get rid of the stem using a sharp, sterilized knife.
Colored or Clear?
To ease on staining, some manufacturers color their cups in different shades of red or pink using food-safe grade dye. Not only are such cups easier to maintain and wash (less staining), but they are also arguably prettier/presentable to look at. After all, no one wants to end up with something that is badly stained with yellowish blemishes after only a few months of use.
And as much as colored cups are not necessarily better/hygienic than their clear silicon counterparts, if you’re allergic to food-safe dyes, then you may want to stick to the transparent variety.
Useful Menstrual Cups Reviews
The following are some of our top picks of menstrual cups that we can recommend to both beginners and seasoned users who are out to check out a new product.
1. The Diva Cup
It’s a bell-shaped reusable menstrual cup that is designed to sit low in the pelvic region or more specifically in the vaginal canal. It has a capacity of approximately 28 ml and can be worn for up to 12 to 13 hours at a time without any leakages. With practice, the Diva can be easier to use than regular tampons although at first you may require a water-based lubricant to help with the insertion and removal. Structurally, the cup is made of silicone and can hold an entire ounce of your monthly flow.
2. The Lunette Menstrual Cup
Under this line of menstrual cups, you can find a broad range of products geared towards different classes of users starting from beginners to those who prefer scented and colored cups. Most of Lunette Menstrual Cups are environmentally-friendly and are made from FDA approved, non-allergic silicone.
As far as sizes go, there’s a variety to choose from starting with Size 1 (pre-childbirth) to large (for post-childbirth). Also, unlike the Diva, it utilizes a streamlined, almost seamless rim that makes it easier to clean after use.
3. Anigan EvaCup
Made in USA and FDA registered, the Anigan EvaCup is one of few affordable menstrual cups on the market today. What’s more, they feature a short rounded stem – something that makes them friendlier to beginners when it comes to removing the cup after use. Structurally, all Anigan flow cups are soft and rubbery but firm enough when it comes to sealing in the menstrual blood.
4. The Glad Rags Moon Cup
The Moon Cups are available in two sizes, i.e., Size A and Size B. Size A being for those who experience heavier flows or have already undergone childbirth. The cups are manufactured in the UK and are made from reusable medical grade silicone. On the lower side, however, the Glad Rags line only has clear cups so those who prefer colored/dyed menstrual hygiene products may want to steer clear.
5. The FemmyCycle Menstrual Cup
Like most other menstrual cup manufacturers, the FemmyCycle line has several sub-categories of cups meant for different users. Beginners are advised to start with the ‘starter kit’ before moving to the ‘regular.’ They are also the only ones in this top 5 pick that have menstrual cups designed specifically for teens who have only recently started experiencing their monthly flows. All FemmyCycle cups are made from medical-grade silicone and designed and produced in the USA.
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