Menstrual cups: how safe are they?

by Thando Mgobhozi

Menstruation is very much a natural part of life and we as women have accepted (or not really) that we will have to deal with getting a period each and every month for as long as we live or rather up until we reach menopause. It’s a procedure that many women dread going through every month and deep down inside we wish God could have done it another way you know, a way that doesn’t involve bleeding and all the cramps that come with it which makes it even worse. I know sometimes it may seem as though we exaggerate the pain that comes with a period and that is not the case at all. Trust me when I say it really feels like the uterus is being cut in half with a saw. We really do appreciate the period care packages and well wishes even though we’re not dying but it really seems like we are at that moment. So my brother, give your girlfriend that belly rub because she really needs it and forgive her if she takes out her frustrations on you. She doesn’t mean to but at the same, she really can’t help it. It’s them, these bloody periods. Haha… see what I did there.

We all know about sanitary towels and tampons but how many of us actually know about menstrual cups?

I myself will admit that it was not until recent that I discovered menstrual cups and it’s actually funny because I found out about them through my boyfriend who sent me a picture of a menstrual cup and I couldn’t give him an answer when he asked me what it was. I then forwarded the picture to my friends and asked if they knew what it was and they were just as clueless as I was. I’m sure you’re probably not sure what it is yourself but rest assured that you’ll know what it is and more after reading this article.

So, what is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is an eco-friendly alternative to sanitary towels and tampons. This small and flexible cup is made of silicone or latex rubber and because it is a cup it collects and stores the blood rather than absorbing it just like pads and tampons.

And how does it work?

Right at the beginning of your period, tightly fold the menstrual cup and insert it into your vagina. It is inserted in the same way a tampon is and you shouldn’t feel it when inserted correctly. The cup then springs open and sits against the walls of your vagina and the blood just drips into it. The cup is removable and to remove it you just pull the stem sticking out the bottom.

The nice thing about menstrual cups is that they are reusable. After removing the cup you just empty, wash with water and soap and replace it again. There are girls who still cannot afford to buy pads and tampons and even miss school due to not being able to afford them. Although there are many initiatives and drives that have committed themselves to provide pads and tampons to girls who cannot afford them, menstrual cups are the cheaper alternative because of their eco-friendly nature.

Why is it that they are not as popular as other feminine products?

Believe it or not but menstrual cups have been in existence since the 1930s. The introduction of menstrual cups in developing countries such as South Africa and Kenya was around 2010. A lot of women hear about menstrual cups from the internet or word of mouth rather than the conventional way which is through advertisements on TV for example.


It’s eco-and wallet-friendly – Imagine a reusable cup that can last you for as long as 10 years? This means less money going out of your wallet and cleaner, less messy landfills.

You can leave it in for more hours – You can leave the menstrual cup for about 12 hours before emptying it out. Tampons require you to change them every 4 to 8 hours which also sometimes depends on your flow. Cups, on the other hand, can stay in longer and are good for overnight usage.

It holds more blood – A menstrual cup can hold up to about 1 ounce of liquid which is more than the blood absorbed by pads and tampons.


Interference with an IUD – Menstrual cups are completely safe to use when they are used as directed as there hasn’t been any health-related risks detected but it is a wise decision to speak to your doctor if you have an intrauterine device (IUD) inserted as it might interfere with it. Some manufacturers don’t recommend combining the two so it is better to be on the safer side.

Finding the right fit can be tough – Menstrual cups come in different sizes and fits depending on factors such as your age, flow, whether you’ve had a child or so forth. Our bodies are different in terms of our uteruses and some women may have a lower cervix. You may experience leaks while you try and test different sizes.

Visit this website for more pros and cons

Menstrual cups are available over the counter from pharmacies and there are several online stores that provide them as well such as takealot

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