How long do menstrual cups last?
Are menstrual cups comfortable and easy to use?
Are menstrual cups safe to use?
How do cups compare to re-usable pads?
If cups are so great… why have so few people heard of them?
Can menstrual cups be shared?
Is it risky or unhygienic to distribute cups in areas where running water is scarce?
What about ‘cultural issues’ – for example, can virgins use menstrual cups?
What about cups and sex?
Can a person who has an Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUD) fitted use a cup?

What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a small bell-shaped product that is a convenient alternative to tampons or sanitary pads. They are usually made of soft medical-grade silicone and are inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid.

How long do menstrual cups last?
Menstrual cups are reusable. They last for up to 10 years and produce no solid waste. Cups are a sustainable, hygienic, and environmentally friendly alternative to pads, tampons, or other disposable menstrual products.

Are menstrual cups comfortable and easy to use?
Yes. If inserted properly, the woman or girl wearing a menstrual cup will not be able to feel it at all. Although it can take a few attempts to get used to using a menstrual cup, most women are able to use them without any problems. In addition, cups have a larger capacity than tampons and pads, and can hold up to three times more menstrual fluid – this means they can be worn for up to 12 hours (pads or tampons typically have to be changed every 3-6 hours). Cups are less likely to leak than tampons, and because the menstrual fluid is not exposed to air, no odour is produced.

Are menstrual cups safe to use?
Yes. The best quality cups are made from top quality, medical-grade silicone which is non-toxic and non-allergenic. Typically, menstrual cups are emptied and re-inserted an average of 1-3 times a day whilst a woman or girl is on her period: as with tampons, it is important for the user to wash her hands before removing and inserting the cup.

In between periods a menstrual cup is easy to clean and sterilise. All that is required is for it to be boiled in water for 5 minutes. With every cup we distribute we also provide a small aluminium pot so it can be boiled privately and separate from pots used for cooking.

There is no evidence that menstrual cups increase the risk of bacterial infections but taking care to have clean hands when using the cup and ensuring that it is sterilised in-between each monthly use will reduce the chances of any problems occurring.  

How do cups compare to re-usable pads?
Although reusable pads are more sustainable than disposable pads or tampons, from the point of view of sustainability and convenience cups are – objectively – an even better option for those willing and able to use them. For example: each user needs only one menstrual cup and it will last for up to 10 years, compared to needing multiple reusable pads every month, each of which will last for up to 1-2 years; only a very small amount of water is required to keep a menstrual cup clean and use it hygienically, compared several litres of water to wash reusable pads each month; and a cup can deal with larger volumes of menstrual fluid than most reusable pads meaning it doesn’t need to be changed as often. In addition, with a cup the menstrual fluid does not routinely come into contact with air, meaning embarrassing odours are not an issue.

If cups are so great… why have so few people heard of them?
Cups were invented and first patented in the 1930s, but since then they have not been marketed with nearly as much vigour as commercially available pads or tampons. The world’s biggest manufacturers of disposable menstrual products have an interest in as few people knowing about cups as possible. If more people used cups or other reusable products – the biggest manufacturers of disposables would lose money. Unlike disposable menstrual products, after a few months of using it, a cup actually saves rather than costs the user money. This is just one of the reasons we are determined to spread the word about cups as far and as wide as possible!

Can menstrual cups be shared?
No. Menstrual cups are intended for personal use only – they should not be shared with other people.

Is it risky or unhygienic to distribute cups in areas where running water is scarce?
We have successfully distributed cups to people who live in both urban slums and remote rural environments. We never distribute cups to people who do not have access to any clean water at all. If a person has access sufficient water for drinking, cooking, or washing then they will be in environment that allows them to use a cup safely and hygienically. Cups require far less water to keep clean than reusable pads or menstrual cloths, and using a cup eliminates problems with hygienic waste disposal that creates challenges for people who use disposable pads or tampons and their communities.

What about ‘cultural issues’ – for example, can virgins use menstrual cups?
We believe that a person only loses their virginity when they have sexual intercourse. Using a cup is completely different. In truth, using a cup can result in the hymen being broken or stretched – in the same way as riding a bike, doing gymnastics, or carrying out other everyday tasks can also affect the hymen. In our view, none of these activities mean an individual is “not a virgin”. However, what we always do when we start a new distribution, is consult with local partners and the local community about which age group of girls/women we should start talking to. Often we are advised to begin with 16-17 year olds (or older), because they are closer to being fully (physically) grown. In some communities we have been told that it would only be appropriate for married women to use cups and, of course, we respect that.

What about cups and sex?
To avoid injury and/or discomfort a person wearing a menstrual cup should not engage in any form of sexual intercourse that involves them being vaginally penetrated.

Cups do not provide any form of contraceptive protection, or any protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

Can a person who has an Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUD) fitted use a cup?
Cup manufacturers state that the cup itself will not interfere with an IUD and that with correct positioning and usage a cup can be used alongside an IUD, however there may be a small risk of an IUD becoming dislodged when a cup is removed. It should be noted that according to NICE (the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) the IUD expulsion rate for all IUD users is around one in twenty (menstrual cup user or not) within five years of the IUD being inserted. IUD users are advised to check with a doctor or gynaecological health professional before using a cup or if they experience any issues with their IUD after using a cup.

Do you have a question about menstrual cups that hasn’t been answered here? Contact us with your question and we’ll do our best to answer it. You can also visit our shop to purchase your own cup or buy one as an original gift for someone else. 

 

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