February 8, 2019
By: Betsy Drach, Guest Contributor and Founder of Dot Cup
Your best friend swears by hers, your sister just bought one… chances are you’ve heard of a menstrual cup by now, and we’re here to tell you what it is and why you should try it.
Some cup basics:
Let’s start with the basics. A menstrual cup is a medical-grade silicone cup, worn in place of tampons to collect blood instead of absorbing it. A tampon is a sponge, so eventually when it’s full the excess blood only has one place to go: your underwear. A cup, however, serves as a barrier between your cervix (where the blood comes out) and your precious panties, making it less likely to leak.
But like… how?
We’re glad you asked. To actually insert the cup, you fold it to become about the same size as a regular tampon! There are a variety of folds, but we like to recommend the punch-down, c-fold, or roll-fold. Try them all and see which one works best for you! Hold the fold tightly as you insert it as high as you comfortably can. When you let go and release the fold, your cup will pop open to create a light suction that keeps the cup in place and helps prevent leaks.
After about 12 hours or when your cup starts to feel “full” or like it’s riding low, sit on the toilet and push like you’re… well… passing gas. This will help bring the cup down. It can’t get lost inside you! Wiggle the cup down by pulling on the stem, and firmly pinch the base of the cup as you remove and empty it in the toilet. Then rinse your cup in the sink and re-insert it.
We recommend washing your cup with a gentle soap at least once a day during your cycle and boiling it for 5 minutes every few months for a deep sanitation. Dot Cups come with a cotton storage pouch, where you can store your cup in your purse or medicine cabinet until your next period! Never make a panicked trip to the drugstore again.
Some cup convincing:
1. Your time is precious
Since a Dot Cup holds 3X that of a super tampon and can be safely worn for up to 12 hours, many cup users wear their cup for the entire day without the need to empty it until they return home for the day.. There’s a reason people say “I almost forgot I was on my period!”
2. Your body is precious
You’re likely aware of the risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome associated with tampon use, and the more recent concern for toxins and dyes found in many disposable period products. The good news is that these risks are significantly reduced with a cup. Cotton fibers serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, while silicone is naturally an extremely antimicrobial material, in addition to being hypoallergenic, and chemical-free. This is why medical-grade silicone is used for products like baby pacifiers and medical implants! What we put in our bodies matters, and one product can dramatically impact the entire ecosystem. Choose wisely.
3. The earth is precious
Each year, approximately 1 MILLIONS TONS of tampon waste is sent to landfills in the U.S. alone. It’s no secret that we all need to get more serious about the preservation of the planet we call home, and switching to a reusable period product is a simple (and liberating) way to make a huge step toward reducing your environmental footprint.
4. Your money is precious
The average menstruating human spends around $150/annually on disposable menstrual supplies (even more if you buy the fancy organic ones!). Over the course of 10 years (the recommended lifespan for one menstrual cup) you’re looking at around $1,500. That’s. a flight. to. Paris. A Dot Cup retails for around $34 so it pays for itself in just a few months.
5. People are precious
Dot Cup was founded on the mission to make the best period products available to all people, so for every cup they sell, they donate one to a woman or girl without access to menstrual supplies. Many women and girls in the developing world miss around 60 days of school each year during their periods. This causes them to fall behind in school, and often leads to dropping out altogether. A simple tool like a Dot Cup can change the game and empower a woman to freely pursue what matters to her during all times of the month.
Some Cup Misconceptions:
I don’t want to get blood all over everything.
This one makes us laugh because we’ve never heard of this happening, and the only way it could happen is if you just yank the cup out by pulling the stem! The stem actually isn’t for removing, it’s for helping bring the cup down. To remove the cup, you actually need to pinch the base of the cup itself to release the suction seal, and also to reduce the surface area for a more comfortable removal.
But… public restrooms?
For many cup users, it’s actually rare to need to empty the cup in public since it can be worn for up to 12 hours! When you do need to empty it in public, simply empty and re-insert. Nope, no need to rinse or wash or wipe. It’s your own blood and it’s not going to hurt you! Some people like to carry a bottled water with them or a pack of wet wipes, and some just wipe it off with toilet paper before returning home and thoroughly washing their cup. It’s all a matter of preference.
I have an IUD.
You can have both! A menstrual cup can be safely and effectively used with an IUD as long as the cup is properly removed. This means fully releasing the suction seal (firmly pinching the base of the cup) before pulling it out.
But I have a suuuper heavy flow.
We hear this a lot, but many people don’t realize a cup holds around 3X the blood of a super tampon. So if you’re currently going to the bathroom to change your tampon every hour, a cup could help you go 3 hours! Tampons can be deceiving because they appear larger, but keep in mind a used tampon is still predominantly made up of cotton and only a small amount of blood. You might be surprised to see that the amount of blood your body actually produces is less than you thought, which is part of the beauty of using a cup! You get to know yourself.
Some Rookie Tips
We like to recommend sitting on the toilet or standing in the shower with one leg up. Wherever you are, make sure you’re relaxed. Pour yourself a glass of wine and turn on some music. It’s time to bond with your cup and yourself.
Kegels aren’t just for sex
Once the cup is in, do a few kegels! Pulsing your vaginal muscles can help settle the cup into place. It’s also important to make sure the cup is fully “open” and not still folded up. You can check by sliding your finger around the outside of the cup.
Try, try again
Getting used to a cup simply takes practice! So did tampons. The most common time frame seems to be about 3 periods. So hang in there and before you know it you’ll be a pro!