Here are the top 10 most frequently asked questions about menstrual cups, answered by our expert team!
1 - what is a menstrual cup?
Quite simply, a menstrual cup is a cup-shaped period product that collects your menstrual flow. Menstrual cups can be made from a range of materials, but are most commonly made from silicone (we make ours from Class VI medical grade silicone). They are reusable, which means that unlike sanitary pads and tampons, you don’t throw them away after each use. In fact, a high quality menstrual cup like the Asan cup can last you up to 10 years!
Many people find menstrual cups to be a transformative change to their lifestyle. This is because they are affordable, eco-friendly and comfortable. Here are some of the most common benefits of using a menstrual cup:
- Leak-free period protection
- Sleeping comfortably through the night
- Working, exercising, swimming on your period
- No rashes, discomfort or itching
- No need to purchase sanitary pads/tampons every month
- Enables a zero-waste lifestyle
2 – how does a menstrual cup work?
Like a tampon, a menstrual cup is an insertable period product, which is inserted into the vagina. The cup creates a seal with the walls of your vagina which allows it to stay in place and collect your menstrual flow. Once your cup fills up (which takes between 6-12 hours for most people), you simply remove it, wash it and insert it again.
Check out our in-depth instructional video which contains all the information you need to know about how to use a menstrual cup.
3 - what are the pros and cons of menstrual cups
Like with any period product, it’s important to know the pros and cons and make the best decision for your body! Below are some of the pros and cons associated with using menstrual cups.
- Comfortable: Once a menstrual cup is inserted, you can’t even feel that it’s there. This means you can go about your day without even realising you’re on your period. No rashes, leaks, itching or ‘icky feeling’ at all. And you can be active, work-out and even go swimming on your period with ease.
- Affordable: A good quality menstrual cup is a one-time investment. It will cost you the same as a few months’ worth of pads or tampons and will last you for years, so is a definite money-saver.
- Eco-friendly: Did you know that a single Asan cup can avert the waste of more than 10,000 sanitary pads or tampons? Switching to a reusable menstrual cup is one of the best things you can do for the planet.
- Discreet: For many of our users, the fact that the Asan cup is so discreet is a huge benefit. No need to visit the store to stock up on period products every month; no need to have a dustbin in the bathroom to throw used pads; and no one except YOU knows that you’re on your period. In cultures when menstruation remains taboo, this can be hugely liberating.
- Holds more fluid: A menstrual cup holds up to 3 times more fluid than regular tampons and pads. This means that you can wear it for up to 12 hours without emptying or changing it. Less fuss, less stress and less visits to the bathroom.
- Learning curve: There is no doubt that a menstrual cup takes a few tries to get used to. You need to learn how to fold it, insert and remove it correctly. You need to get used to the sensation of the cup being in your body (which means you can’t really feel your period anymore!). While you’re still perfecting the technique, leaks and spills are to be expected. However, after one or two cycles you should be a menstrual cup pro!
- Requires insertion: While some of us love insertable products, others prefer external period products such as sanitary pads. In rare cases, some people suffer from conditions such as vaginismus, which can make insertion painful. Menstrual cups are a great option for those who are comfortable with insertion, but if you hate the idea of inserting something into your vagina, you may want to give them a miss.
- Need to be sterilised: Between each menstrual period, it is advisable to boil your menstrual cup for 10 minutes to sterilise it. This will ensure all bacteria are killed and it is 100% safe to reuse. For some people, boiling the cup is a bit cumbersome. The Asan OneDrop cleanser is a great alternative – if you can’t boil your cup, we suggest diluting a few drops of the cleanser in very hot water and soaking your cup in this solution for 10 minutes.
4 - are menstrual cups safe? are they hygienic?
Short answer: Yes, absolutely! Menstrual cups are both safe and hygienic. In fact, the medical journal The Lancet recently published a reporting stating that “menstrual cups are a safe option for menstruation management and are being used internationally”.
Slightly longer answer: Menstrual cups are safe, as long as you use a high quality cup and clean it thoroughly according to instructions. During periods, wash your cup thoroughly with clean running water (and if you want, a good menstrual cup cleanser) every time you handle it. Make sure you wash your hands well, too!
Between periods, boil your cup for 10 minutes to completely sanitise it. Always make sure you empty and change your cup within 12 hours, as leaving it in there for too long can lead to infections.
5 - are menstrual cups better than pads and tampons?
At Asan, we would argue that YES, menstrual cups are absolutely better than sanitary pads and tampons. In addition to being more affordable and eco-friendly, reports suggest that menstrual cups are better for your health compared with disposable pads and tampons.
This is because the majority of sanitary pads and tampons available today contain plastic, pesticides, perfumes and other harmful chemicals. While sanitary napkins are known to cause rashes, itching and discomfort, tampons can dry out your vagina by absorbing not only your period flow, but also all the good bacteria that live in your vaginal canal.
By contrast, menstrual cups collect your period flow but do not absorb or mess with the incredible vaginal flora that keep your vagina healthy. You can wear your cup even for light-flow days and spotting, and should not feel any dryness or irritation.
6 - how do i choose the right menstrual cup?
Unfortunately, the internet is saturated with hundreds of menstrual cup brands and it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell which menstrual cup would be best for your body. As menstrual cups are insertable period products that are reusable, we believe that selecting a high quality cup from a trusted brand is very important.
Here are a few ways to judge the quality of a menstrual cup:
- Does the brand make or manufacture the menstrual cup themselves? If yes, they are likely to be in control of the quality (compared with those who are simply buying and reselling generic products)
- Does the cup have a unique design? Again, if yes, this suggests that the brand has put some thought and effort into designing a good product – rather than buying and reselling a generic menstrual cup
- Are there clear quality standards or certifications that the brand subscribes to? Try to look for a quality page on the website – this should contain more specific information about the safety and quality of the product.
- Is the brand available to answer your questions? Ideally, you should be able to get in touch with the manufacturer so that you can have all your queries answered.
At Asan, we’re slightly obsessive about quality – we use Class VI medical grade silicone (the same material used in medical implants) and test every single batch of our products for biocompatibility. We also own the registered design rights for our product which means that only Asan can make the Asan menstrual cup.
7 - how do i select the right size of menstrual cup?
Ah, the most common question! Unfortunately, menstrual cup sizing has become extremely complicated, with a lot of conflicting information about age, body type, cervix height, and whether you have had a baby.
At Asan, we have simplified our sizing guide, so that it is purely based on menstrual flow. We have two sizes: a light/medium flow cup for those who can wear pads/tampons for up to 6 hours, and a heavy flow size for those who leak through pads/tampons within 6 hours. Anyone of any age can use either size. We have thousands of users who have happily selected our cup size based on their flow and are very confident about our sizing guide.
If you do have more specific questions about sizing or your cervix height, then we also have specialised information for you. And please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have further questions, we are always happy to help!
8 - how do i insert a menstrual cup?
Inserting a menstrual cup becomes easy with practice. Our in-depth tutorial video on insertion will guide you through the entire process!
There are three steps to inserting your cup:
- Fold – You need to fold your menstrual cup into a smaller shape, so that it is easy to insert. Check out our helpful guide on folds to understand the different ways to fold your cup. The two most popular folds, the C-Fold and Punch-Down Fold, are pictured below [insert pictures]
- Insert – Once you have folded your menstrual cup, gently guide it into your vagina, at a 45 degree angle towards your tailbone. Once it’s inside, you can let go. It will pop open and create a seal with the walls.
Check position – The final step is to check the position of your menstrual cup. If it has been inserted correctly, then it shouldn’t have any dents or folds. If you prod it gently, you should feel some resistance, which means it has opened up correctly. The menstrual cup is worn low in the vaginal canal (see image below), so do not push it up too high.
9 - how do i remove a menstrual cup?
Removing your menstrual cup can be tricky, and like insertion, it can take a few tries to perfect the art of removal. The great thing about the Asan cup is our unique removal ring which makes the process of removing your cup quicker and easier.
Here are three simple steps to remove your cup:
- Locate – Guide a (clean!) finger into your vagina to locate your cup. If your cup has travelled up high, gently tug on the ring with two fingers to bring it lower, until you can feel the base.
- Pinch – Once you can feel the base, pinch the cup. This will break the vacuum seal. You can then slowly wiggle it from side to side until it is outside your vagina.
- Empty & reinsert – Once outside, empty the contents of your cup into the toilet or bath. Wash with clean running water and reinsert straight away. Easy!
Here is an in-depth tutorial video for removing your menstrual cup with ease:
10 - are menstrual cups messy? do they leak?
We get this question all the time. The truth is that when you first start using menstrual cups, you might find the process messy, as you are just learning how to insert and remove properly. We suggest using a backup pad or panty liner for your very first cycle with the cup, just in case you have accidental leaks. You may also want to practice removal in shower, as that way any spills are simply washed away.
After one or two cycles with the cup, once you are used to it, it shouldn’t be messy at all. In fact, you’ll find it so easy and mess-free that you’ll pretty much be on auto-pilot when changing your cup! During removal, when you guide the cup out of your body, just hold it upwards so none of the contents spill. Once it is outside, you can easily empty it.
If you are using a well-designed cup and you have inserted it correctly, then you should not face any leaks. Unfortunately, sometimes poor-quality menstrual cups are very soft and flimsy which means they don’t create a good seal and can leak. It’s important to choose a good brand and also choose the correct size for your menstrual flow.
If you’re concerned about leaks, then you can check out our handy leaks guide which has a lot of information on dealing with leaks from menstrual cups.
Menstrual cups are an incredible invention. While only a small percentage of people use them at the moment, at Asan we truly believe a decade from now, menstrual cups will be by far the most popular period product!
That said, it’s important to choose a high quality product and to read the user manual in detail. Unlike pads, menstrual cups involve a bit of a learning curve, and the more prepared you are before starting out, the easier your menstrual cup journey will be.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions or doubts, we’re always here to help!