Your complete guide to how to use a menstrual cup, plus 14 of the best to buy

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  • By using one, you'll save 2,400 pads or tampons from going to landfill in your lifetime. 

    From period tracking, to reading up on the ins and outs of our hormones, we’ve all become a lot savvier when it comes to understanding our TOTM – and how we can make it more sustainable – in the last few years. Things like using a menstrual cup and reading up on brands that are greenwashing can all make a huge difference to your carbon footprint.

    Fun fact: did you know that by using a menstrual or period cup, you’re saving 2,400 pads or tampons from going to landfills in your lifetime? (Read what using a cup for your period is like, here).

    That’s because female hygiene products like tampons and pads are largely made from plastic that doesn’t biodegrade. Just think about how many tampons you use in one period – and then how many must add up over a lifetime. It’s not a pretty thought.

    “Half the population menstruates for around 40 years of their life,” shares Heli Kurjanen, founder and CEO of menstrual cup retailer Lunette. Say you all use disposable period products – that’s a lot of waste going into landfills and our oceans.

    Menstrual cup: so, what are they? 

    In short, a small cup which you insert inside your vagina that collects your period blood for you. The cups collect your menstrual fluid, rather than absorbing it like a tampon or pad would. They promise to be gentle, soft and easy-to-insert, and can normally be left in safely to collect blood for around ten to twelve hours.

    So, why menstrual cups? In short, because they’re reusable, eco-friendly, and affordable. Like period pants, their whole focus is to make periods sustainable. “Menstrual cups are a sustainable and affordable way to reduce the need to purchase wasteful period products as regularly,” shares Kurjanen.

    How to use a menstrual cup: your guide

    Not entirely sure how to use a menstrual cup? Don’t sweat it – most, if not all, will come with a handy explainer guide in the box. In the meantime, let these pointers from Lunette help.

    1. Wash your hands and your cup, and dry both

    2. Fold and hold – insert while ‘sitting, standing or squatting’, they share. and be sure to spread your legs and relax. ‘Fold the cup in on itself to make flat, then in half to form a C shape,’ and insert.

    3. Insert – The insertion will only get easier with practice. Their site advises to ‘keep your menstrual cup rolled up and guide it rim first into the vagina. To check that the cup has fully opened, slide a clean finger up to the cup bottom and feel it – it should be round.’

    4. Wear and learn – the more you use your cup, the more you’ll know what works for you, and how long you like wearing it for. Most can be worn for up to twelve hours and need to be emptied from two to four times daily.

    5. Remove and empty – Be careful not to tug when you are removing your menstrual cup – this is important. Also ensure to wash your hands. Lunette share on their site: ‘Grasp the bottom of the cup. To break seal, squeeze the bottom of the cup. Be sure not to pull it out by holding the stem alone. Tip the contents into the toilet, then rinse and reuse.’

    6. Clean and sanitise – all menstrual cups need to be thoroughly cleaned before and after use. Rinse with cold water before washing with hot water to avoid discolouration.

    What size menstrual cup should I go for? 

    This depends entirely on your menstrual flow and vagina size. Most of the brand websites are packed with info on choosing the right one for you, so make sure to have a read if you’re stuck. Generally speaking, though, the larger cups are for women who have had children or who have particularly heavy flows. (Think of it in terms of what size tampons you buy. Then swap them out with an eco-friendly and cost effective period cup.)

    Sure, they might not be for you, but whether you opt for period cups or not, it’s time we started paying attention to our periods – and the waste they cause, too. So, without further ado, shop our round-up of the best period cups currently available to buy.

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