If you’re wondering what’s up with menstrual cups, you’re in good company. A few years ago, almost no one had heard of these things, and now they are cropping up all over the place. Drug stores like Walgreens and CVS carry them, and there was even a Kickstarter campaign to develop a menstrual cup that can track and analyze your periods received 321 percent funding. It’s clear these cups are a booming business. But if you're considering a switch form tampons to menstrual cups, it's important to know how menstrual cups work. Because when it comes to your vagina, trial and error isn't the best learning method.
Luckily, they’re actually a pretty simple device to use. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, menstrual cups differ from pads and tampons in that they contain the menstrual flow rather than absorb it. The small cup, which is made from flexible silicone or rubber, is folded and inserted into the vagina for up to 12 hours. It can then be emptied, rinsed out, and reused. Leakage is generally minimal, because the cup forms a seal around the area and collects almost all of the blood flow (depending on the brand and how it fits your body). And because the cup doesn't interfere with the vaginal pH or bacterial balance, there are potential health benefits to using menstrual cups.
Not to mention many people find then comfortable and convenient. The cups can be worn overnight, as they generally hold more than a typical pad or tampon, as WebMD notes. Furthermore, some of the disposable varieties are designed to be worn during sex — they can’t be felt by a partner, and they prevent blood leakage during intercourse. There is a caveat, though: if you have an IUD, there is a potential that the cup could dislodge the string. If this is the case, you may want to check in with your doctor before giving a menstrual cup a try.
And that’s pretty much it! There can be a learning curve with inserting and removing the cup for the first few times, and you may need to experiment to find a brand that works well with your body. But it’s generally a pretty great option for managing your monthly visit from Aunt Flo.