Most women have preferences when it comes to which accouterments are used to get you through your period. Some prefer using pads, others tampons, some use both, and others may opt for menstrual cups. Although menstrual cups have only recently become mainstream, they were actually first invented in 1937 by Leona Chalmers. She was an American actress who patented the design of the first menstrual cup, which was made from latex rubber. America, as a whole, however, was slow to catch on and the first menstrual cup for the United States was not manufactured until 1987. Since then, there have been several different menstrual cups produced and manufactured using alternative materials, ranging from silicone to rubber. Menstrual cups are promoted as less wasteful, more eco-friendly and natural alternative to tampons and pads. A reusable menstrual cup costs between $30-$45 and can last for up to ten years, which makes it extremely affordable.
Menstrual cups are small, flexible funnel shaped cups with a short stem at the base that is inserted into your vagina. Instead of absorbing your menstrual flow (like a tampon), they catch and collect your period fluid (like a pad). To insert a menstrual cup, you tightly fold the cup and insert it into your vagina like a tampon without an applicator. Once it has been inserted rotate the cup to enable it to spring open and form a seal to prevent leaks. It should then rest comfortably against the walls of your vagina, allowing your period fluid to drip into and collect in the cup. Most menstrual cups are able to hold more period fluid than tampons and/ or pads. A menstrual cup can hold around one ounce of liquid, which is nearly twice the amount that a super-absorbent tampon or pad is able to hold. Hence, women that use them are able to change them less frequently than they would have to change tampons. Tampons usually need to be changed every four to eight hours, depending on your flow. Due to the material and size of menstrual cups, they can be left in for twelve hours, which makes them great for overnight protection.
There are some types of menstrual cups that are disposable, but the vast majority of menstrual cups are reusable. To remove a menstrual cup, you pull the stem from the base of the cup and pinch the bottom part of the cup directly above the stem to release the seal. Once the seal is released, pull the cup out and empty its contents. Wash a reusable menstrual cup with soap and water and insert it again. With reusable menstrual cups this process can be repeated until your period is over. Keep in mind that there is a slight learning curve when it comes to menstrual cups. Until you get the hang of it, removing the cup can be tricky and even get a bit messy. At the end of your period, you can sterilize your menstrual cup in boiling water so it is ready for the next time!