In this article we’ll go through the pros and cons of using a menstrual cup, so that you can make an informed choice about whether a menstrual cup is the right period product for you.
Did you know that a person who menstruates regularly spends, on average, about 6 years of their life menstruating? Over the span of a year the use of products if using disposables amounts to 270 tampons or pads. Many of these products end up as waste in landfills.
A lesser negative impact on the environment from menstrual products is one of the biggest benefits of using a menstrual cup. But it’s not the only one. They’re also convenient to use, save you money, are healthier, and much more.
If you’re on the fence about switching to a menstrual cup or if you simply want to know more about the pros or benefits (and perhaps some of the cons), you’re in the right place.
Do you ever fantasize about having a freer, happier period that helps the planet at the same time? You can get there with Ruby Cup. Your purchase of a Ruby Cup includes a donation of another cup to someone without safe access to period products. Get your Ruby Cup now.
First: What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable, sustainable period product, often made from medical-grade silicone. It has a small, flexible, cone-shaped design, usually with a straight stem or loop at its base to aid in its removal. It collects menstrual blood within the vaginal canal after being inserted (unlike menstrual pads or tampons that absorb the menstrual fluid). If you are completely new to the product, you might benefit from reading our article What is a menstrual cup?
How does a menstrual cup work?
Once a menstrual cup is inserted properly, the firm opening and folds pop open to create a smooth seal. If you tug gently on the stem of the cup and feel some resistance, that’s a sign that the suction is working. This suction action creates a seal in your vaginal canal that prevents the menstrual cup from moving around and leaking. Menstrual blood then collects inside your vagina without you even noticing. Once 8 hours have passed, it’s time to remove the cup, rinse and clean it, and reinsert to use again. For a more detailed walk-through, check also our period cup beginner’s guide.
Menstrual cup benefits - what are the pros to using a period cup?
We don’t want to be biased, but there are a ton of benefits to using a menstrual cup! We’ve come up with ten here, but there may even be more. Let’s go through them.
1. Go about your day more easily
A menstrual cup has 2-3 times the capacity of a large pad or a super tampon. This means less time spent on trips to the bathroom. Once you get the hang of using it, you will not feel it and you will feel comfortable and free to get on with your day and your preferred activities. And because you can’t feel them inside you, you have more freedom to do what you want.
Like what? Sports, for example. You can do all the activities you would do when not on your period, without having to worry about leaks, or flaps, or strings. One of the most common questions is can you swim with a menstrual cup in? Of course you can! You can also bike, run, ride a horse, go curling. Whatever your heart desires.
2. Less waste, better for the environment
Another huge pro of using a menstrual cup is its positive impact on the environment. A period cup can last up to 10 years, saving the planet of 2,700 disposable products! Think of all the plastic wrappers and applicators that come with using pads or tampons. Buying 1 (or 2) menstrual cups that you’re able to use throughout every period for 10 years means having a zero waste period and contributing to the planet in a positive way. The environmental impact of a period cup is lower than that of 20 disposable pads or tampons, so your period actually becomes zero waste already after one-two menstrual cycles, if you change from disposables to a menstrual cup.
What about reusable menstrual pads as a sustainable option? They’re also a nice option, but don’t last nearly as long as a cup does. Want to know more about the impact on the environment? You may find our menstrual cup impact calculator interesting.
3. Easy to use
Once you learn how to correctly insert and remove a menstrual cup, you’ll find that it’s not something you even have to think about. Just like any new thing, practice and repetition is the key to mastery.
The steps to using a menstrual cup correctly are: finding the right fit for you, inserting and removing the cup, and cleaning and sterilizing properly. That’s all there is to it. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll be like second nature.
4. Save money
Remember earlier when we mentioned how many disposable period products you could save from ending up in the landfill? Think about the monetary cost of all these products as well. Compared to the 270 disposable pads or tampons that a person buys on average for their period per year, a menstrual cup that you can reuse for the next 10 years certainly comes in handy. Your wallet will thank you.
Period poverty may not affect you personally, but it’s a big problem in both low income and high income countries. This study shows that since the COVID-19 pandemic, 58% of women claimed they had less money to buy menstrual products.
Bonus save money-tip: Another benefit of choosing a period cup is that you’ll not run out of period products as you’ll do every now and then with the disposable period products that you have to rebuy all the time. In other words you’ll not find yourself not having your period product(s) handy when using a menstrual cup as long as you always keep it within reach.
At Ruby Cup, we’re passionate about fighting for equality. For every Ruby Cup purchased, we donate another one to a person without access to safe period products. Buy your Ruby Cup now.
5. A happier, healthier vagina
When comparing menstrual cups and tampons, period cups are generally healthier for your body. First of all, they don’t contain harmful chemicals or bleaches that some tampons contain. The medical grade silicone doesn’t react with your vagina’s natural flora, maintaining a healthy environment down there.
Second, the smooth material of a period cup doesn’t cause fiber shedding like a tampon can. Fiber shedding is caused by inserting and removing tampons from the vagina, which can cause loose fibers being left behind. This can lead to vaginal dryness and even infection.
Third, the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is low when using a menstrual cup. TSS is a rare, but life-threatening condition where bacteria from your skin, nose or mouth manage their way deeper into the body. Read more about Toxic Shock Syndrome here.
6. Less chance of leaks
A menstrual cup’s larger capacity makes it a pro for those who experience a heavier flow. When inserted correctly in the vagina, a menstrual cup should pop open to create a seal that keeps your flow from leaking out. Knowing how to insert and remove your menstrual cup, as well as using a cup that fits you properly, are the two factors that ensure a leak-free period. It’s possible that the suction holes at the top of the cup are blocked, which would also lead to leakage. If you find that your menstrual cup is leaking, you can check out 5 reasons this may be the case.
7. No strings or flaps
For those who use tampons or pads, you’re familiar with the pesky strings and flaps that come along with them. Sometimes a tampon string can cause chafing or discomfort. Other times, if it’s been a while since you changed the tampon, blood can leak down towards the end of the string and stain your panties.
And don’t tell us you’ve never had issues with the wings on a pad scrunch up around your underwear. The lack of all these issues is a great benefit to using a menstrual cup. Some people with a lower cervix may complain that they can feel a period cup’s stem. In this case, the stem is probably too long and needs to be trimmed. Once you do that, you won’t feel anything at all.
8. Collect more flow than a pad, tampon or period panties
You don’t necessarily bleed as much during your period as you think. Once you’ve emptied your cup over a few periods, you may or may not notice that it’s less than you thought. Menstrual cups, overall, collect about twice as much blood than a tampon or pad. Collecting more blood means more time between emptying or changing.
Another new sustainable period product on the market is the period panty, which absorbs your flow outside of the body - similarly to a pad. Some period underwear can absorb up to 3 tampons worth of flow, but because they collect blood outside of your body, there is a higher chance of smell if you wear the same pair for long. We still prefer our period cup as a sustainable and fuss-free option!
9. Travel more easily
If you’ve ever been traveling or on vacation knowing that you’ll be getting your period at exactly this time, you know how annoying it can be to have to bring your artillery with you or trying to find your brand in a foreign country. That’s a thing of the past when you start using menstrual cups. Traveling with a menstrual cup means extra space in your luggage and more peace of mind while on vacation.
10. No bad smells
If you’re a user of pads, tampons, or period panties, you’ll recognize that on some days a smell will be inevitable. Whether your flow is collecting outside your body, or inside (like a tampon), the material of the period product absorbs the flow and the longer it has time to react with bacteria, the more cause for smell. Then disposing of these period-filled products in a regular trash bin can cause more of a stink.
One menstrual cup benefit is that instead of absorbing menstrual fluid, it collects it. Menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone. This is a material designed to be completely neutral and unreactive in the body, meaning it doesn’t interact with bodily fluids like periods or tampons might. Emptying the cup in the toilet also allows you to flush away the menstrual blood and avoid smells that tend to linger in a garbage can.
Have you noticed a smell coming from your period cup? Although they shouldn’t technically smell like anything (silicone has no scent), you can read about what is likely to have happened if your menstrual cup smells in this article, and how to get rid of the smell.
BONUS: Buy one, give one
All bodies are unique, and the same is true for menstrual cups. So we also want to share with you one of the reasons that Ruby Cup is so special. For every cup sold we donate another one to someone without safe access to period products. Not only are you benefiting yourself and the planet by using a menstrual cup, but you get to help someone without safe access to period products have a happier, freer period. Yay!
Cons of using a menstrual cup
There are none. Just kidding! There are a few downsides. but we still believe the benefits of using a menstrual cup outweigh the cons. Let’s have a look at some of the more common downsides.
1. Steeper learning curve than other period products
For anyone who’s dealt with menarche (the very first occurrence of menstruation), we know that the whole concept can be a big adjustment. Changing bodies, blood and other bodily fluids, hormones, painful cramps and aches; these are just some of the symptoms people who menstruate have to deal with.
If you think back to the time of your first menses, you had to learn how to unwrap a pad, stick it to your underwear, how often to change it and so on. Maybe later on, you learned how to use a tampon. This was a bit more complex and nerve-racking.
The same goes if you’re making the switch from pads or tampons to a period cup. It can be finicky and uncomfortable when you first start, but once you get used to it, it’s really easy. If you’re thinking about trying a period cup, but haven’t done so yet, you can check out our article on the best menstrual cups for beginners.
2. Can get messy
The idea of a “messier period” can be a con of using a menstrual cup. If you’re the type of person that gets squeamish around blood or other bodily fluids, seeing your flow collect in a menstrual cup could be a problem. It’s important to remember, though, that menstruation is a completely natural bodily function and the more comfortable we (and everyone else around us) are with it, the greater the chance of ending period stigma.
3. Issues with finding the right fit
We’ve been told over and over again (and it’s something we should accept and appreciate), that no two humans are alike. Just like everyone has different facial or body features, the same goes for our reproductive organs. Some people have tried a menstrual cup and complained that something just wasn’t right. The variation of our bodies is one of the possible reasons for not finding the right menstrual cup fit.
One in 4 people has a variation in the way their uterus is tilted and a common issue is finding a menstrual cup that accommodates this variation. If you have a tilted uterus, a period cup that is smaller, made with a softer material and has a shorter, trimmable stem (like Ruby Cup) works best. There is also a chance that you have a low cervix and have had trouble inserting a menstrual cup. The height of the cervix is another thing that can vary from person to person. If you’re not sure about your own, you can check out our article on what you should know about your cervix before using a menstrual cup. If you have a lower cervix, a smaller period cup with a shorter stem would be your best bet.
4. Changing the cup in a public bathroom
You may also be wondering, is it possible to change a menstrual cup in a public bathroom? It certainly is. Some people may be uncomfortable with this idea. Imagine wanting to rinse your cup in the sink while the person next to you is washing their hands. Luckily, we have a few ways you can clean your menstrual cup in a public bathroom more discreetly. If you set off on your menstrual cup journey prepared, there’s no reason to feel shy about changing a cup in a public bathroom.
You’ll never know if a menstrual cup is for you until you try
As you can see, there are a lot more menstrual cup benefits than you had initially thought. Ultimately, using a period cup makes periods a lot easier and hassle-free. Once you get the hang of it. Sure, there may be a steep learning curve but if the benefits we listed here sound appealing maybe it’s time to try!
Enjoy our 120-day money-back guarantee in case your Ruby Cup is not your ideal fit or a menstrual cup is not for you entirely. We change the size for you or give you back your money within 120 days, no questions asked.
Did you know that you can make a difference in your life (and someone else’s too) just by buying a menstrual cup? At Ruby Cup, we match every cup purchased and donate one to someone without access to safe period products. Shop for Ruby Cup now.