“Is this safe? What if it's not!?” are two of the questions which might well storm through your mind the first time you use your menstrual cup. You might find yourself wrestling with visions of embarrassing trips to the doctor and having to explain the situation to actual people. Yes, there is a knack to removing it. There is a certain amount of suction involved, and a tense body can make removal difficult for some new users. But once you relax into it and get the hang of giving it a good pinch to break the seal, I promise you there is no cause for concern and your cup will become second nature to you during your period.
Here's why you should be using a cup:
You can choose what your cup is made from.
When purchasing your menstrual cup, the packaging or seller will clearly indicate what the cup is made from. The majority of cups are medical-grade silicone or latex rubber and you can choose which suits you best! Some silicones are sturdier than others, so it may take a bit of research and trial-and-error before you find your perfect cup.
They are more compatible with your body.
Compared to tampons and sanitary pads (which were found to contain “dioxin, carcinogens, and reproductive toxins” in independent studies by women's health organisations, according to US Congresswoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney in a 2015 article in The Guardian), menstrual cups are biocompatible, meaning they've been proven to live happily inside humans with minimum risk of serious long-term side-effects. There have been high reports of irritation by first-time menstrual cup users, but this is more likely to be caused by an incorrectly sized cup, an incorrect insertion or simply that the user needs time to get used to the sensation of wearing one. Whilst I never experienced discomfort with my cup, it still took three or four cycles for the awareness of it being there to go away completely.
It's OK if you accidentally forget it's there.
That leads us to the next common fear among new users. “What if I forget it's there??” And again, there is no need for panic on this front. WebMD states that cups can be safely left in for up to twelve hours. They hold more liquid than pads or tampons too, so wearing them overnight is not a problem and overflow is not a concern.
It's even safe for the environment!
Yes, overall menstrual cups have a massively reduced environmental impact compared to sanitary pads and tampons by removing the twelve thousand pads or tampons the average menstruation uses in a lifetime from their inevitable future in landfill or in our oceans. And depending on the material yours is made from, there are a range of options for your cup once it has retired (which could be up to ten years after purchase). But that's a whole other article!
Of course, all menstrual hygiene products come with pros and cons, with personal preference playing a huge role. Getting informed is half the battle. Beyond that, it's about finding what works for you, safe in the knowledge that no matter which cup you choose, it's all good.
Read Are Menstrual Cups Environmentally Friendly?