Frequently Asked Questions

What is the environmental impact of menstrual cups?

Menstrual cups are far more eco-friendly than other menstrual products.

http://womena.dk/what-is-the-environmental-impact-of-menstrual-products/

Can you use a menstrual cup when also using a contraceptive IUD?
Are menstrual cups acceptable for Muslims?

Yes, women of Islamic faith are using cups in Kenya, Pakistan, Jordan and Syria.

http://womena.dk/womena-faqs-menstrual-cups-acceptable-muslims/

What is a menstrual period?

About once a month, blood and cells from a woman’s uterus leave her body through her vagina. Periods are normal and healthy. They last from 2 to 8 days each month.

What is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is shaped like a small bell, it is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid. A cup is clean, hygienic, safe and comfortable, and produces no smell. You will not feel your cup inside you, and you can remove it easily. Each cup is reusable and lasts 10 years, so saves the cost of 2,500 disposable menstrual pads or tampons.

How much blood does a cup hold?

Each cup holds 20-25 milliliters of blood, about the same as 3 pads or tampons, enough for heavy periods.

How does the cup stay inside?

The vagina is made from elastic muscle, which can stretch wide open and also hold the cup tightly. You do not have to remove your cup to urinate. Sometimes when you defecate the cup falls out of place, then just remove it and reinsert.

What should I do if I drop my cup?

If you drop the menstrual cup on a clean surface it can be rinsed with clean water and reinserted. If it falls onto a dirty floor or latrine do not use it until you have cleaned it with boiled water.

How often should I empty the cup?

Each woman is different; some need to empty the cup every 3 hours. Do not leave it in longer than 12 hours. You can use your cup overnight while you sleep. Empty the cup before going to sleep and then empty it again when you wake.

What if I forget to take out my cup?

Remove it as soon as you remember. It is easy to forget your cup because it is comfortable and the menstrual blood does not come into contact with air so it does not smell. You can put the cup in the day before you expect your period will start.

What if I cannot remove the cup?

Relax, and do not worry. Walk around and try again. Jumping or gravity might help. Try sitting or squatting in a different position.

Can the cup get lost inside me?

No, the vagina stops at the cervix, which only opens during childbirth.

Is using the menstrual cup messy?

Using the cup can be messy until you are used to it. After a few periods you will learn how often you need to empty the cup. Most girls take a few periods before using a cup is comfortable and easy. Talk to your friends who use them. It is like learning to read, or riding a bicycle – difficult at first, and then suddenly it is easy!

Does the menstrual blood smell?

No. Blood only smells when it is in contact with air. There is no air inside you, so no smell.

Can a virgin use a menstrual cup?

Yes. A menstrual cup can be used from a girl’s first period. When the menstrual cup is first inserted into the vagina, it may stretch the hymen, which is the skin around the entrance of the vagina. At puberty, the hymen becomes more elastic and stretches. A stretched hymen does not mean a girl is not a virgin; a girl only stops being a virgin when she has had sexual intercourse.

For more details see:
WoMena:
http://womena.dk/do-menstrual-cups-affect-hymens-virginity/

Will a menstrual cup make my vagina bigger?

No. The vagina is made of muscle that stretches when you insert the cup, and goes back to the same size when you remove it.

What age can a girl start using menstrual cup?

There is no age limit. A girl can use a menstrual cup at her first period.

Can I use a cup during sport?

Yes, you can use it at home or at school and while swimming, running, dancing, playing netball, cycling, or any other activity.

Why does my cup leak?

A cup may leak if it is full, if it has not been put in correctly, it is too small a size, or if it has not opened up inside you. Take it out and try again. Or try a different size or brand.

Can menstrual cups cause vaginal infections?

No, the menstrual cup will not give you vaginal infections. The vagina makes protective secretions that help prevent infections. Unlike tampons, menstrual cups do not absorb your natural secretions, so the vagina remains healthy during your periods. Always rinse your menstrual cup with plenty of clean water, as soap on the cup can irritate the inside of your vagina.

For more details see:
http://womena.dk/womena-faqs-use-menstrual-cups-increase-risk-toxic-shock-syndrome/

Could I get Toxic Shock Syndrome while using the cup?

Menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome (mTSS) is a rare event that occurs among menstruating girls and women. The symptoms are high fever, flu-like symptoms, dizziness, which can lead to severe illness, coma, and even death. About 3 per 100,000 tampon users suffered from mTSS in the 1980s when they used highly absorbent tampons. Since then, only 5 suspected cases of mTSS have been reported among many millions of cup users. Two of these women also used a contraceptive coil, and one had auto-immune disease. mTSS is very rare, but be aware of the symptoms. If they occur, immediately remove the cup and seek medical advice.

For more details see:
http://womena.dk/womena-faqs-use-menstrual-cups-increase-risk-toxic-shock-syndrome/

Can I share my cup with a friend?

No, it is for your personal use and must not be shared with anyone else.

What are menstrual cups made from?

Menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone, latex, rubber or plastic elastomer. Most cups have approval from national regulatory authorities such as the US Federal Drug Agency. Quality silicone cups contain no additives, perfume or chemicals and are hypo-allergenic, so there are no side-effects. A few people are allergic to rubber or latex. If you feel pain, burning, irritation, inflammation in the genital area or discomfort during urination, remove the menstrual cup and visit a clinic.

Why do some cups have small holes?

The holes help the cup make a good seal to prevent leaking. At the end of your period clean the holes with a cloth or old toothbrush. Do not use a pin or needle as they may damage the cup. If the cup does not have holes, push the base of the cup, to release the ‘seal’.

What is the difference between cheap and expensive cups?

Some brands of cheap cups are not made from medical grade silicone but from poor quality plastic elastomer. They may be stiff to fold and insert easily; or too soft and leak. The material may not last ten years. If you look after your cup carefully it should last ten years, so it is worth using a good one.

Why do some menstrual cups have a tail, or stem?

The tail is only there so that you can feel inside to ensure the cup is there. It should not poke out of your vagina. If the tail pokes out, cut a small piece offn with scissors or a knife to make it fit. If it is still uncomfortable, cut a bit more from the tail. Be careful not to cut a hole in the cup!

Can I use a menstrual cup if I have a light flow?

Yes. The menstrual cup is good for light period flow, as it collects blood without absorbing natural fluids from the vaginal walls.

Can I use a menstrual cup during sex?

The menstrual cup does not prevent pregnancy, nor protect from sexually transmitted infections.

© Nancy Durrell McKenna

The Menstrual Cup Coalition supports the safe use of affordable menstrual cups by sharing knowledge and good practice globally.