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Style The 12 Best Menstrual Cups to Buy – and Expert Advice on How to Use Them

18:00  28 may  2021
18:00  28 may  2021 Source:   womenshealthmag.co.uk

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Much like Piers Morgan, Marmite with your avocado on toast and whichever installation last won the Turner Prize, menstrual cups have their die-hards and their detractors.

a close up of a pink wall: Gotta rate reusables. Check out the WH guide to the best menstrual cups, plus expert advice on safety, how to insert them and benefits. © Yulia Lisitsa - Getty Images Gotta rate reusables. Check out the WH guide to the best menstrual cups, plus expert advice on safety, how to insert them and benefits.

Why? While their green creds – an entire period with zero waste, at a time when an estimated 200,000 tonnes of sanitary waste goes to landfill in the UK every year – are clear, some women have been put off by the idea of coming up, close and very personal with the contents of their uterus'.

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Plus, for those without access to private bathrooms, the 'rinsing them out' question has loomed large. (Note, in the short term, a bottle of water and loo roll can be a godsend.)

But, if the toilet thing isn't an issue for you, then hear this. 'The main benefit of menstrual cups is that they are a comfortable, secure and environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to sanitary towels and pads', says gynaecologist Dr Shree Datta. 'They can provide up to 12 hours of protection meaning you don’t need to worry about regular changes during a busy day.'

Check out the WH edit of the best, below – then scroll on for how to use, when to remove and everything else you need to know about embracing the re-useables route.

The 12 Best Menstrual Cups of 2021

Okay, so how does a menstrual cup work?

For someone who hasn’t used one before, the prospect can be alarming. It’s a lot more… hands-on than a tampon or sanitary towel, but you get used to it quickly and it’s not an area we should be squeamish about.

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The ‘Mooncup’ was the pioneering brand. Like the others out there, these are small soft medical-grade silicone, polymer or latex vessels, about 3-4 cm across, usually with a little stem.

Unlike a tampon or sanitary pad, which soaks up the blood, a menstrual cup catches it, so you wind up with a sort of mini chalice of the stuff. Gory? Yes. Fascinating? Endlessly.

You shouldn't deal with leaks, but, if you do, the issue will be placement or the suction seal so try moving it around until it feels more secure or take it out – and try inserting again.

How do you insert a menstrual cup?

It’s simple, but it takes a little getting used to if you haven’t used one before as the insertion process is more hands-on than tampons.

'They’re not always easy to use, but the only way to find out is to try them and with time people get used to them quickly — it’s simply about getting to know your body better and taking time to learn how to insert them', says Dr Datta.

'Sometime, if incorrectly fitted, it may be uncomfortable, particularly in women who haven’t had sex or used tampons before.'

'When first inserting a menstrual cup, take your time, and make sure you’re in a relaxed environment where you won’t be rushed. Wash your hands and empty your bladder before folding the cup and inserting it into the vagina', Dr Datta recommends.

a hand holding a cup: best menstrual cups © AnSyvanych - Getty Images best menstrual cups

'It should sit high enough that you don’t feel it, but low enough in your vagina that it’s easy to extract.

Note: you should not be able to feel your cup inside you. If you can, you may need to push it a little higher, which could be easier in a different position — standing, seated, lying down.

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'If it helps, squat or bend your knee and place your foot at the edge of the toilet seat or bath. Follow the direction of your vagina and make sure it doesn’t hurt to insert or after insertion, when you walk.'

  • Start off by sterilising the cup by putting in boiling for 3-5 minutes and washing your hands.
  • Though the cups vary slightly in design, you start by folding the rubber rim so the circle becomes more like a U-shape (for which there are a lot of different techniques, just try them out and find which you like best)
  • Then, making sure you’re relaxed, insert it into the vagina — rim up and stem down — until it's sitting just below the cervix. You can be standing, squatting or sitting, the key thing is that the muscles aren’t tense.
  • Once there, it should pop out and become a circle again, sealing off the sides to collect the blood. To check, make sure the base of the cup isn’t folded and, if it is, rotate it slightly to open it outAnd are menstrual cups healthy

Are menstrual cups safe to use?

It’s been concluded that menstrual cups ‘are a safe option for menstruation management and are being used internationally’. It’s not worth worrying about ‘menstrual cup dangers’, ‘menstrual cup side effects’ or ‘why menstrual cups are bad’ any more than other types of period product.

'Avoid menstrual cups if you have abnormal discharge, open wounds in the vagina or vulva, or active infections such as thrush', says Dr Datta. 'It’s also essential to check what the cup is made from – for example, if you have a latex allergy, avoid brands that use it.'

How do you remove a menstrual cup?

When it comes to the removal, the main thing is don't freak out. Remember: this blood thing has been going on, it's just that it’s usually soaked up by a tampon (which, if you think about it, is arguably weirder. At least this way you can just pour it away!). Try in the shower if you’re worried about the mess in the early days.

  1. After washing your hands, make sure you’re relaxed and just pull the stem until you can reach and get hold of the cup itself.
  2. Being careful to keep it upright, remove it by breaking the seal — potentially by pinching the cup — and pulling it out.
  3. Pour the blood down the toilet or sink and give it a rinse, particularly focusing on the air holes that enable efficient suction. If you don't have access to a sink, just wipe it and then clean it properly when you can.

How do you clean a menstrual cup?

Your menstrual cup should be cleaned every day when you’re on your period to rinse off any bacteria and prevent it from smelling.

If you’re at home, wash the cup with clean water and a mild, oil-free, unscented soap before reinserting.

Avoid cleaning your menstrual cup using:

  • Petroleum-based products like Vaseline
  • Oil-based substances (coconut oil, for example)
  • Scented soaps
  • Antibacterial soap or sanitiser
  • Baking soda
  • Bleach
  • Washing up liquid
  • Vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide

If you’re on-the-go a bottle of clean water and a few sheets of loo roll should do the trick if you aren’t able to rinse your menstrual cup in a sink. You can also purchase menstrual cup wipes to sanitise your cup whilst out and about – they’re particularly useful when travelling. Don’t forget to give your cup a thorough wash when you eventually return home.

When you have finished your period, clean and then sanitise the cup by immersing it in boiling water and then leave it to air dry. Store it in a breathable pouch (most menstrual cups come with a little storage bag) to keep it clean and dry.

Can you sleep with a menstrual cup in?

There’s no problem with sleeping in a menstrual cup, but remember to empty it in the morning. And, if you’re at the heavier stages in your period, maybe team it with a reusable pad or pair of period pants (like Thinx) so avoid having to stain remove your bed sheet.

Can you get toxic shock syndrome (TSS) from a menstrual cup?

For a long while, it was thought not but there’s now been two reported cases of TSS in relation to menstrual cups.

When should you replace a menstrual cup?

You can safely leave the cups in for 12 hours, though some chooser to empty it more regularly (whereas it's recommended you change tampons every 4-8 hours).

My menstrual cup has changed colour - help!

Particularly with the clear products, the silicone can become a slightly murky colour and, though it doesn’t necessarily mean anything apart from natural discolouration, you may want to change it.

In short, though it’s acknowledged that they need a little ‘familiarisation phase over several menstrual cycles’, 73% of women wished to continue using menstrual cups after beginning, a Lancet study found.

Any other tips?

Just stay relaxed. Both parts of the process take some time to get used to, so maybe try before you’re on your period. Everyone’s bodies are different so, if you find the stem uncomfortable and too long, trim it down. Same goes for cervix heights, so just experiment to find where works for you.

7 Benefits of Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups have garnered a group of serious fan girls (kind of like the Pearl Girls in The Testaments) who won’t hear a word about them; any leakage is nothing compared to the environmental boon.

1. Sustainable

The average period uses the equivalent of 11 plastic bags whereas, with a cup, you can use exactly zero.

2. Good opportunity to get to know your body

As well as being more clued up about your menstrual cycle, it gives you the opportunity to see what’s going on — especially if you have clotting in your period, which can indicate a health issue.

3. No hassle

In fact, a cup can hold three times the amount of blood as a super tampon and, as we only lose 5-12 teaspoons of blood during a period, you might be surprised about how little there is. You can also use it while working out, swimming and sleeping. Plus, you don’t have to worry about running out of your period products.

4. Cost

Fancy tampons and pads can be pricey whereas a cup, which will last you for a few years, is around £20.

5. Comfort

People who’ve transferred over report forgetting they’ve got it in, more so than with traditional period products.

6. Less chance of infection

Free from dyes, plastics and BPA, the medical grade silicone or polymer doesn’t disrupt the vagina’s pH or encourage bacteria growth. They’re also less likely to cause dryness as, unlike cotton, the cups don’t absorb natural moisture.

7. Less chance of leakage

A Lancet study found that a menstrual cup is less likely to leak than a tampon. Boom.

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Holly Willoughby intrigues fans with crystal Instagram post .
"If you know, you know!!"Holly Willoughby got fans talking with her latest cryptic Instagram post in which she held aloft a crystal, believed to be Celestine, over her eye.

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