It seems to me that people are becoming increasingly interested in educating themselves on how we function as humans – both physically and mentally. Instead of shying away from words like “menstruation” and “vagina” or using euphemisms for them, we are talking openly. Besides, my experience is that Contrabond’s readers are super cool, conscious humans, so I won’t take up your time by talking about stigmas. Instead, let’s dive right in.

The size of your menstrual cup matters
Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

The Menstrual Cup in Detail

For two years, I’ve been using a menstrual cup and it has changed my relationship with my body, my femininity, and the way I talk about these things with others. I wrote a detailed article on this for Cosmopolitan Bulgaria. In it, I discuss my experience with the cup, some myths, and I interview two amazing women – Vihra Dincheva from TierraVerde, who is an expert on menstrual cups and sustainability, as well as Dr. Ralitsa Senkova – the kindest and most well-read gynecologist I’ve ever met. You can find the article here and maybe use Google translate if you don’t speak Bulgarian.

Menstrual Cup Basics

If two articles on menstruation seem like a big bite to chew at once, in the next paragraph I summarize some of the cup’s key benefits. I’ve also added links to scientific studies, so I can make my point with something other than my own experience.

  • According to gynecologists, menstrual cups are safer for your health than pads or tampons. That’s because instead of soaking up, they collect. Therefore, the risk of infections decreases. Also, menstrual cups are made from medical silicone which is safe for the body. The same is not true for single-use pads and tampons that are made of plastic and other harmful compounds that may leak into your body.
  • Menstrual cups are not only safe to use but they are also a great solution for girls and women who suffer from period poverty.
  • One cup can be used for up to 10 years, provided you care for it well (boil it for 5 minutes before and after each cycle, store it in a dry, safe place). This makes it a lot more sustainable than plastic pads and tampons that can’t be recycled and flood the planet with more trash. I don’t want my legacy for future generations to be used sanitary products.
The size of your menstrual cup matters
Photo: Josefin
  • Menstrual cups are much more comfortable than pads or tampons. To me, pads feel horrible on the most delicate areas of my body and so I avoid them. But a few months ago, as I was traveling through Morocco, I got my period a bit earlier than expected and I hadn’t brought my cup with me. So I had to buy tampons, which felt really uncomfortable the whole time. Studies indicate that it takes a while to get used to the menstrual cup, but once women do – they tend to prefer it.
  • Softer cups are easier to insert but stiffer cups open up easier, once inserted.
  • The last point I’ll add is not something I’ve read studies on but I still want to share it with you. Using the menstrual cup helped me get to know my body in a way that I shied away from before. And so I am able to accept it and love it more fully.

Why Your Menstrual Cup Size Matters

The topic of size is what prompted a second article on menstrual cups. For 4 months now, I’ve been using TierraVerde’s bigger cup for the first few days of my cycle, as well as on longer day trips, and events where I can’t take out and wash the cup comfortably. Often, our biggest concern, when it comes to the cup, is what size to pick. For many of us, myself included, size matters! But, as I found out in the past few months, not exactly in the way I thought.

Why your menstrual cup size matters
Photo: Evie S

When I bought my first menstrual cup two years ago, I was left with the impression that there are two sizes – small, to be used by women who haven’t given birth, and large – for women who have. Back then, the concept of inserting any sort of cup in my vagina was unnerving, and the large cup was just terrifying. But since then I’ve gained a more in-depth perspective.

What I found is that your menstrual cup size does not depend on giving birth. It’s more about how soft the cup is, its shape, your personal comfort when inserting and removing it, your daily needs, and every body’s beautiful uniqueness. So, once I was comfortable with the experience of using a cup, I decided to give the larger size a try.

How to Insert Your Menstrual Cup for Maximum Comfort

Even the larger cup can be perfectly comfy if it’s inserted well. Here are a few tricks that Vihra from TierraVerde shared with me:

Fold the cup in two, so you get a kind of an 8-figure. This makes inserting the cup easier and the cup opens up better.

Once you have inserted the cup, gently run your finger around its sides, to check if it has opened. If it hasn’t, pull the cup out lightly, while rotating it, and slide it back in.

When taking the cup out, exert slight pressure on its side with one of your fingers, so that you take the vacuum out. This will make removing the cup easier.

Why Use a Bigger Size Menstrual Cup

The biggest advantage for me is being able to comfortably wear the cup for extended periods of time, without having to worry about it leaking. It’s especially useful when I’m hiking and there’s no place to wash my hands thoroughly, or when I’m on a long drive and there are only gross gas-station bathrooms around. I would definitely use it when traveling to places where bathrooms outside of the hotel room are not as cozy as I need them to be for such an intimate activity.

Recently, I was one of the facilitators at a self-development retreat. It lasted for several days and the activities took up most of each day, so I didn’t have much time to myself. Therefore, the large cup turned out to be big help.

The days of our menstrual cycle are often uncomfortable. Many of us experience pain, and some friends of mine literally have a hard time getting out of bed. Personally, I feel like I lose half of my brain functions. I suddenly start forgetting everything, including the fact that I’m being forgetful. That’s why it’s a relief to have one thing less to think about, and the larger menstrual cup comes in handy.

After the first few days of my cycle, I go back to my regular, smaller cup, because it’s more comfortable for me to insert and remove.

As of now, my experience is that the most comfortable thing to do is get two sizes- a bigger cup for the first few days of my cycle and/or long journeys; and a smaller cup for the other days or times when I can clean the cup more frequently. The Gaia cup that I’ve been using costs 21 euros and comes in a pack with a reusable pad. Compared to single-use tampons and pads, this is a bit of an investment. However, it’s quickly repaid. In terms of money, comfort, health, and our footprint on the environment.
Photo: TierraVerde

I would be really happy to hear about your experience with menstrual cups – big, small, soft, and stiff. You can share in the comments below or on social media.

Also, if you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and/or on your social media profile. 🙂