If you’re the least bit curious about the little cups that are overtaking the feminine hygiene market, you don’t have to search far for information. Menstrual cup advocates can get pretty vocal about their favorite period management technique. And it’s no wonder. Given the many benefits of menstrual cups, lots of women prefer this durable, reusable, and discreet way to deal with their monthly visit.
That’s right: pads and tampons are no longer the only options. You may want to know that menstrual cups have been around since at least the 1930s (the Museum of Menstruation has information on this early model, the Leona Chalmers cup), but they were not widely used outside of the crunchy-granola set for many years. However, current models like the Diva Cup and Lunette have made the menstrual cups more modern and mainstream. They’re made from flexible silicone or rubber and many can be used for several years.
And the menstrual cup fandom is real. You can get handmade menstrual cup bags on Etsy, and there are near-endless posts about them on almost every social media site. But if you’re a bit wary of shelling out $20 to $40 for something you might not like, then here is a quick rundown of the cup’s biggest benefits.
1. They Save You Money
How much green are you dropping on pads and tampons each year? Buzzfeed notes that buying one $30 cup a year is still much less expensive than buying a year's worth of tampons and pads. And some models can be used for many years for even greater savings.
2. Produce Less Waste
According to The Diva Cup's site, women throw away hundreds of disposable products and their packaging every month. The company also estimates that one woman could go through 9,600 tampons in her menstrual life cycle. Where does it all go? One cup can help you reduce your waste every month.
3. They Let You Enjoy Sports Without Worries
"Many women runners find the [menstrual] cup nearly leak-proof and the smooth silicone more comfortable than dry, potentially chafe-producing pads or tampons," Cindy Kuzma wrote in Runner's World. And according to the Mooncup's website, you can even swim while wearing a menstrual cup. Bonus: no worrying about needing to change a tampon in the middle of a race.
4. They Are Free From Strings
Pads and tampons can get grody quickly, but cups bypass this issue entirely. As Marissa Gainsburg wrote for Women's Health, menstrual cups leave you feeling fresher and free from having to tug on bloody strings. Who can argue with that?
5. They Are Discrete AF
Have you ever tried to quietly unwrap a pad? It cannot be done; those things are wrapped with the crinkliest stuff in the known world. But the cups are just made from rubber or silicone, which is basically silent.
6. They Are Comfortable
Many women report that the cup is comfortable. On the other hand, pads almost never let you forget when it's that time of the month.
7. They Give You Feminist Cred
Slate's Jane C. Hu explained that, unlike traditional feminine hygiene products, the cups address periods in a straightforward way. "By encouraging users to engage with their bodies during menses, the cup plays a subtle but pivotal role in normalizing periods," Hu wrote. It's nothing to be ashamed about.
8. They LastAll Night
Healthy Women notes that most menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours before they need to be changed. This means you can get a full night's sleep without worrying about changing out a pad in the middle of the night.
9. They Help Maintain (pH) Balance
As Elisa Ross, MD., wrote for Health Essentials, menstrual cups don't affect the pH balance in your vagina. Conversely, she notes that "tampons absorb all your vaginal fluid along with the blood, which may disturb the delicate pH and bacterial balance in your vagina." Because if there's one thing you want to keep balanced, it's your vagina.