The Menstrual Cup: All You Need To Know + My Personal Experience

This post is all about the menstrual cup, including answers to your questions and my personal reviews.

All About The Menstrual Cup - Milk Tea Theory

I made the switch to a menstrual cup in late 2017. The amount of tampons and pads that I was throwing away each period bothered me, and I hated having to count just how many of those I had left before I had to run back to Target to buy more.

When I made the switch, I was 20 years old, and it was a month before I was set to study abroad (a huge push for me, because I didn’t want to deal with pads, tampons, and traveling!).

IT CHANGED MY LIFE.

Dramatic, I know. But my period is something I’m no longer thinking about 24/7 whenever I’m on it. If I get my period now, I’m like, “Oh, I got my period.” That’s a big attitude change from, “UGH, I got my period.” With a menstrual cup, my life is not that drastically different from the other non-menstruating weeks of the month (aside from cramps and headaches, of course).

As I’m writing this, it’s been almost 3 years, and I haven’t regretted my decision since.

Disclaimers: I am not a medical professional. These are only my experiences. Please do your own research as you figure out whether a menstrual cup is for you. Additionally, this post contains some affiliate links, meaning that I will get a small commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

Money

While not every woman spends money on Midol, chocolate, or birth control, you can definitely see how much of a financial impact periods can have on your wallet.

Graphic showing the breakdown of the price of a woman's period. A menstrual cup could help offset the cost, even just slightly.
Source: Huffington Post

Now think about what you could do with all that money, if you saved it!

Menstrual cups, on average, cost about $20-30 each. They’ll last you for a couple of years. That’s already a lot of saved money.

I personally HATED having to buy pads and tampons. It was annoying. It’s even worse when you get your period first, and then realize you’re out of pads or tampons. I know I’m not the only one with that experience.

With my cup, I honestly don’t have to worry about that at all. I sometimes use my cup with a thin liner on heavier days (1-2 liners per period), but even then, I’m not too worried if I’m out of them. I keep my cup in its little pouch in my backpack, and so it’s always on me if I need it.

This has come in handy during the pandemic. I never had to worry about running out of menstrual hygiene products, because I really just need one–my cup!

Story Time: My friend and I had just left our hostel in Rome, when I felt that cramp and knew I’d gotten my period. Luckily, we were only a few steps away from the hostel and my cup was in my backpack. We then spent the entire day at the Vatican Museums, and I didn’t think about my period even once.

Sustainability

Did you know that the average woman is on her period for 6.25 years of her life? And that the average woman uses up to 14,000 tampons in her lifetime? That’s up to 300 pounds of waste in the landfill, PER WOMAN. This isn’t even added to the waste of pads and liners. Just itty-bitty tampons, alone.

Not exactly great for the environment.

Menstrual cups, on average, can last 3 to 4 years. Some sites say that with proper care, it could last you up to 10 years. That’s a huge decrease in your carbon footprint.

Silicone, which is what menstrual cups are made of, is an inert, low-impact material. That means that while it takes longer to break down in the environment, it will not leech chemicals or break into harmful particles (like plastic!). This is also what makes it safe for your body.

No chemicals? Yes, please!

It’s important to do your research on the silicone material of your cup beforehand. Here is a list of FDA-approved menstrual cups, but I recommend you do additional research as well!

How Do I Choose A Menstrual Cup?

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a menstrual cup. Remember, it’s different for every woman, because each of you is unique!

Here are some questions worth asking yourself:

1. How heavy is my period?

You’ll want to choose a cup size based on how heavy your period is. Most brands typically carry small and large sizes, so I recommend you choose accordingly. Some brands say that large cups are for women who have given birth, but the Lena Cup (the brand I use) doesn’t distinguish based on that.

2. How high/low is my cervix?

Your cervix and where it sits may affect comfort and leakage when it comes to your cup. Some brands are designed for women with higher cervices, while others are designed for women with lower cervices.

Every woman’s cervix is positioned differently. Be sure to measure whether your cervix is high, low, or in-the-middle as you try to figure out which cup is best for you! Check out this article that teaches you how to do that.

3. What materials is this cup made of?

Some cups may contain latex or rubber, or are manufactured in factories that deal with latex/rubber, so you’ll want to double check with the company. This is especially important if you have any kind of allergies!

You’ll also want to check if the cup is made with medical-grade silicone, or if it’s FDA-approved or FDA-registered.

4. How firm do I want my cup?

This is hugely dependent on personal preference, and sometimes, you won’t know until you try it out. Softer cups are recommended for anyone with bladder sensitivities or intense period cramps. Again, this is only a recommendation. Ultimately, you are the decision-maker!

Menstrual Cup Personal Experience Cover Image

My Personal Menstrual Cup Experience

I’ve used two menstrual cups–the Blossom cup and the Lena cup. I’ll tell you a little bit about my experience with both, and why I decided to stick with the Lena cup.

The Blossom Cup

The Blossom cup was my very first menstrual cup. I purchased this on Amazon because it was a cheaper option with plenty of top reviews.

If you’re not looking to spend $30 on a cup right away, this is a great option at approx. $12. They have a policy that if you’re not satisfied with it, you can get a full refund!

I only ended up using this cup for about 1 menstrual cycle before switching to the Lena Cup.

Pros

The Blossom Cup is a relatively small cup.

Its silicone is softer than other models, making it less intimidating to for beginners to use. Easy to fold and maneuver.

It’s affordable! I was a broke college student, and throwing $30 at something I wasn’t sure would be fit for me was scary. It was much easier for me to try this out first.

Cons

My flow is quite heavy on the first two days, and the Blossom Cup just wasn’t working for me. While the soft silicone made it easy to use at first, I had trouble getting the cup to fully open once it was inserted. This made it prone to leakage!

You can get the Blossom cup on Amazon here.

The Lena Cup

I eventually made the transition to the small Lena Cup.

It was marketed towards beginner cup users and women with high cervices, and had amazing reviews on Amazon.

Fun fact: It’s voted to be the #1 Beginner Menstrual Cup!

The second-place contender was the Diva Cup, but I didn’t end up getting it because one of my friends had trouble getting the cup inserted. She said the silicone was too firm, and that it would snap her skin as she tried to put it in. Ouch. Still, tons of people use the Diva Cup with no problems! It’s completely dependent on the gal.

Pros

The Lena Cup is made in the USA and FDA-registered.

The Lena Cup is firmer. This scared me at first, but after my experience with the Blossom Cup, I knew I needed a cup that could open once inserted. I personally never got any snap-back during insertion.

There’s a longer stem, which makes it easier to grab and remove. You want to break the seal by pressing against the edge of the cup, but a longer stem helps beginners with removal. The great thing is that you can trim the stem, too!

Cons

I personally don’t have too many issues with this cup, or I wouldn’t be using it still.

I do know that the long stem can be bothersome to some people, but I personally don’t have any issues with it. You can always trim it! It doesn’t hang out or anything for me, though I can sometimes feel it near the end of my period. I’m assuming it’s because my cervix lowers a little during that time, pushing my cup down.

You can purchase the Lena cup on Amazon here.

TSS

TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), unfortunately, is something that we do have to take into consideration when it comes to the menstrual cup.

Although TSS is usually associated with use of super absorbant tampons, there is still a slight risk with menstrual cup use. When a foreign object is inserted into the vagina for long periods of time, it could lead to staph and strep bacterial growth. The toxins released from this bacterial infection can overwhelm the body, leading to TSS.

Fortunately, TSS is a very rare condition. According to this article, the risk of TSS is 1 in 100,000.

How to Prevent TSS

As long as you use your menstrual cup according to usage guidelines, you don’t have to worry about TSS. It’s recommended that you wash your cup with a water-based soap, or boil it between uses to disinfect it. I wash between each use, and boil it between periods.

You should also not leave it in for extended periods of time. The recommended wear period is 4-6 hours, though some companies (such as Lena Cup) say you can wear it for up to 12 hours.

Personally, I wear my cup for 6 hours at a time on heavier days, and 12 hours at a time on lighter days. Please remember that I am not a medical professional. Again, do your own research as you look into menstrual cups as an option for you.

Empty and full cup drawing with uterus and cervix diagram. Source: Getty Images.

FAQ

1. Can I lose my cup inside me?

No! As you can see from the graphic above, the end of your vaginal canal is your cervix. Nothing except sperm can enter it. Your cup won’t get lost!

Sometimes, it might feel quite high up. You’ll have to push (like you’re pooping) to lower it. It takes some practice at first, but you’ll definitely get the hang of it with use!

2. Can I feel the cup inside me?

This is difficult to answer, because it depends on everyone. If you have a cup suitable for your body, then no.

I don’t ever feel mine, but as I said earlier, I can sometimes feel the stem towards the end of my period.

I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but I do think my cup pushes on my bladder a little, because I always have to pee when I wear it!

3. Will my cup get stuck?

No, your cup will not get stuck inside you. Remember, your cup won’t be able to travel any higher once it reaches the end of your vaginal canal.

Just gotta do those pooping pushes to get it out!

Sounds weird, I know, but it’s just pooping. Everyone does it. It’s a natural body function and it’s good for you.

4. What’s it like to empty?

This is definitely an experience when you do it for the first time. It’s a great way to get to know your own body, and understand how certain functions work. You’ll be surprised to see that your period is quite gel-like, and not as liquid-y as you’d expect!

I do recommend doing this over hard surfaces (not carpet) or in the bathtub. Sometimes, there’s a little bit of leaking as you’re removing it. Better to be safer than to ruin your nice bath mat!

5. What if I’m in a public bathroom?

I try not to empty my menstrual cup in a public bathroom because I like to have access to a sink. BUT I know that it sometimes must be done!

I wash my hands before entering the stall, and make sure I don’t touch the lock latch with my fingers (use your elbow). Upon emptying, I may try to wipe my cup down with clean napkins before re-inserting. It really depends on my situation.

For more FAQ, check out this site. It’s an amazing resource!

Menstrual Cup Hacks

  1. First time users: If it’s your first time using a cup, lube could make it easier to insert. Lots of my friends didn’t use it, but I was able to get a few free packs from my RHA (Residential Health Assistant) friends in college.
  2. Long trips: If you know you’re going on a long trip around that time-of-the-month, you can insert your cup for peace of mind on the road! Just check it once you’re at your destination. I’ve done this so many times, and it’s been kind of life-saving.
  3. Staining: Your menstrual cup will get stained, no matter what you do. What I’ve found to be helpful is to take a rough paper towel and swipe it around the inside of the cup. Both the paper towel and your cup should be dry. You’ll definitely see what you can remove!
  4. Boiling (in college/public living spaces): Boiling your menstrual cup is very important. It disinfects it! I do this right before I’m about to get my period. But if you’re in a public living space, using public pots aren’t always the best idea. I suggest using a microwavable cup/mug, filling it with water, and boiling your cup in the microwave (for ~5 min).

For sterilizing:

I hope you’ve learned more about menstrual cups and found this post useful.

Remember, every woman is different. Your preferences and experiences will be different from my own, and unique to you. Good luck! (:

Hello friend!

It's so lovely to meet you! I'm Sunny, a boba connoisseur hailing from Southern California. I graduated from college over a year ago, and currently work full-time for a Big Tech, Fortune 100 company. This website is an outlet for my creative passions, where I hope to share my experiences in post-grad life, college, career, and identity with young women everywhere.

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