After Using a Menstrual Cup For 1 Month, Here's the Warning I Wish Someone Shared With Me
My first period arrived when I was 13 years old. A few months later, it was Summer and I was invited to a ton of pool parties. A friend I will be forever grateful for introduced me to tampons, and I've been using them ever since (almost 30 years!). I use only organic cotton tampons, and they do the job, so I've never had any reason to try something else. A trusted workout buddy was raving about her menstrual cup, so I thought I'd give it a try. I was skeptical, but here's what happened when I traded tampons for a menstrual cup.
My First Menstrual Cup Experience
Full disclosure — this wasn't my first time trying a menstrual cup. In my hippie, unshaved armpits, sew-my-own-patchwork-clothes phase in college, I tried The Keeper, which was one of the first menstrual cups available. It's made of latex, and I tried it before I knew I had a latex sensitivity. Needless to say, my vagina was on fire, and I didn't last more than a couple hours with it.
Why I Tried a Menstrual Cup
Fast forward 20 years, and as a plant-based eater who cares about the environment, I definitely love the idea of using a reusable form of period protection. And to be honest, recently I haven't been loving tampons as much as I used to.
After having two kids, my lady parts are a little more — ahem — spacious, so I had to move up from regular-sized tampons to super. For the past few years, when wearing a tampon, after a few hours, I felt it slowly starting to slip out, especially when I'm working out. Using tampons has become very annoying and uncomfortable, so I wanted to see how a menstrual cup would compare.
What's It Like to Use a Menstrual Cup?
I first knew I needed to get a cup that was not made of latex. The Saalt Cup is made of silicone, which I found to be much softer, lightweight, and pliable.
How to Insert a Menstrual Cup
Inserting a menstrual cup is not at all like inserting a tampon. I use the non-applicator tampons, so I was used to being up close and personal with putting a finger up my vagina. With a cup, you need to fold it in half, then use your thumb and first two fingers to insert it. You need to apply more pressure than you would when inserting a tampon to ensure the cup doesn't unfold before it's all the way in. This takes a little practice, but so did inserting tampons when I was 13!
You have to get the cup in the right position by pulling on the little tab on the bottom, and wiggling it a little from side to side, but you'll know you got it perfect when you don't feel the cup at all! Your vaginal muscles hold it in place, just like a tampon, and instead of absorbing blood, the cup collects it.
How to Remove a Menstrual Cup
Taking it out is a little trickier because the cup creates a little suction. So you have to slide your finger up between the side of the cup and your vaginal wall, to break the suction seal. Then use your thumb and first two fingers to gently pull it out. Do this slowly or else the cup will fly out of you and the contents will pour out all over your white bathmat (yep, speaking from experience). You may want to do this in the shower for the first time just in case — I wish someone told me that!
If you're in a public bathroom, you can absolutely just dump the blood out into the toilet and insert it back in. But it's better if you have access to sink so you can rinse it off.
How Does It Feel to Work Out With a Menstrual Cup?
I couldn't wait to test out my cup during workouts. My uterus feels a little crampy and tight, and I'm in a blah mood, so exercising when I have my period always makes me feel better.
Wearing a Menstrual Cup While Running
I run on trails close to my house, so I figured this was a safe time to test out my cup. If it was uncomfortable or if it fell out (yes, this was a real fear of mine!), then I could quickly run home.
I'm happy to say that I didn't feel the cup at all! Like I mentioned earlier, tampons would slowly slip out, and I'd feel the bottom rubbing against the opening of my vagina. I'd have to stop, run to the bathroom, and take it out and wear a pad instead, which I hated! This cup didn't cause any extra pain or cramping, which I was also worried about. I also noticed that I didn't have to wear a pantyliner with the cup, which I always had to do with a tampon because it would leak. Cup: 1, Tampon: 0.
Wearing a Menstrual Cup While Doing Yoga
With all the twisting, contorted positions, and being upside down, the menstrual cup was amazing. It didn't cause more cramps, I didn't feel it, and it didn't slip around or leak! Cup: 2, Tampon: 0.
Wearing a Menstrual Cup While Doing CrossFit
This was the true test because my movements are so varied. I'm jumping rope, leaping on a box, doing burpees, sprinting, doing squats and lunges, pushing or pulling sleds, and getting upside down to practice handstand push-ups. I was psyched at how I completely forgot about the cup during my workout because I didn't feel it and it didn't leak. Cup: 3, Tampon: 0.
Are Menstrual Cups Better Than Tampons?
I have the regular size Saalt Cup, which is bigger than the small, and recommended if you've have vaginal births (I've had two).
Menstrual Cup Pros
- One-time purchase of $29, so it'll save you money over time.
- Can find them at pharmacies.
- Reusable; no waste.
- Easy to use once you get the hang of it.
- Doesn't leak.
- Has a three-to-four tampon capacity.
- Can wear it for 12 hours straight.
- A box costs about $5 to $7.
- Easy to find at grocery stores and pharmacies.
- Easy to insert and remove.
- Can wear one up to eight hours.
Are Menstrual Cups Better Than Tampons?
I had to buy tampons and pantyliners, so just the savings alone is reason enough to make the switch from tampons to a menstrual cup. Using a cup takes a little practice and getting used to, but that's no reason not to try one. You do have to spend a few minutes washing it out (and be OK with blood!), so it'll take a little more time to use compared to tampons that you just throw away, buy you'll feel good knowing you're not contributing to landfills month after month, year after year.
Within just one month of trying a menstrual cup, I'm hooked. It works better for me than tampons at preventing leaks, and allows me to exercise without thinking about my period. Since my flow is pretty light, I only have to remove it once at the end of the day. I love that I can take it on vacation, camping, or wherever and it's easy to use. Now I just need to find someone to give all my tampons to! Who wants them?