What is a menstrual cup?
It’s a reusable feminine hygiene product – a flexible, roughly 5cm-long cup made from latex, silicone or thermoplastic elastomer, says Ann Gee, owner of Liveloveluna, an online store selling reusable menstrual products.
You wear it inside you, where it collects menstrual fluid instead of absorbing it. Singapore pharmacies don’t sell them, but you can get one from local online retailers like Liveloveluna (www.liveloveluna. com), Freedom Cups (www.freedomcups. org), Chiobucup (www. chiobucup.com) and Mummysmilk (www. mummysmilk.com).
They cost between $28 and $68. And more women here are coming round to the idea of using a menstrual cup. Ann says the number of cups she sold jumped 20 per cent between 2015 and 2016.
THE BACKSTORY Menstrual cups made their commercial debut in 1937. Made of latex rubber, they were produced by a single American company. Today, dozens of brands make menstrual cups using new materials that are fl exible, bacteria-resistant and hypoallergenic. All this works out to a safer, softer and more comfortable cup.
THE DAMAGE Ten thousand pads or tampons – that’s the average a woman uses over her lifetime, says Vanessa Paranjothy, co-founder of Freedom Cups, a local business that sells menstrual cups. “Producing pads and tampons – which are made of synthetic materials – requires fossil fuels, and we know that’s just bad news for the planet.”
This is what you need to know:
Are they for everyone?
Anyone can use menstrual cups, says Dr Christopher Chong, obstetrician and gynaecologist from Gleneagles Hospital. Just steer clear of them right after childbirth.
That’s because your uterus needs time to heal. So stick to sanitary napkins until your gynaecologist gives you the green light to switch back.
They’re safe to wear…
…as long as you keep them clean, says Dr Chong. But they’re not such a good idea if you have a silicone allergy. There’s no screening test for such an allergy in Singapore, but doctors say the risk of developing it is extremely low.
READ MORE: Eat these 10 food items for a healthier vagina.
Putting one on isn’t as scary as it sounds…
…once you get used to it. Wash your hands and the menstrual cup under clean running water.
Fold the cup into a C-shape, relax your pelvic muscles, and gently guide the cup into your vagina. Keep the cup folded until you’ve completely inserted it, then rotate it at the base, and let it open up.
For a detailed guide to wearing a menstrual cup, hit up this website – http:// parent.guide/best-menstrualcup- the-ultimate-guide.
Expect fewer changes
You can keep one in for up to 12 hours – longer than if you were using a tampon. Of course, if you have a heavier flow, you may need to empty the cup more frequently. A menstrual cup can last up to 10 years if you take good care of it.
It’s super simple to clean
Remove the cup and empty it into the toilet bowl. Then give the cup a quick rinse under the tap. After that, reinsert and you’re done. “If you aren’t at home, use a cubicle with a bidet spray,” suggests Ann. “Or bring a small bottle of water into the toilet with you.”
Another useful tip for keeping your cup clean – sterilise it in boiling water before and after your period.
1) For newbies: Freedom Cup ($28, from www. freedomcups.org). It’s slightly smaller than most cups, plus it’s firm but malleable, which makes it a great starter cup. 2) If your cervix is low: Lena. 3) If your cervix is low and you work out a lot: Super Jennie. Get this, or its colourful counterparts here, for $49.90 each at www.liveloveluna.com. 4) If your cervix is low and you have a sensitive bladder: Lunette. 5) If your cervix is high: Lily Cup.
Find the perfect fit
First, determine your cervix height: “Stick your finger into your vagina and see how far up you have to reach before you can feel your cervix, which feels like a round marble with a dent in the centre, or like the tip of your nose.
Use the lines across your fingers as a measurement. If your cervix is high (three lines deep), you’ll want a longer cup. If it’s low (one line deep), you need a shorter cup,” says Ann.
Next, consider how firm your cup should be. “If you have bladder issues, stick to a softer cup so it won’t press against the bladder uncomfortably. If you lead an active lifestyle and have a strong pelvic floor and vaginal muscles, a firmer cup is better, to prevent leaks.”
This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Her World.