Reusable menstrual cups have been around for decades, but they are just starting to pick up in popularity. Most people can’t shake their familiar comfort with tampons and pads, but a new study indicates that the cup is just as effective as the disposables and has no health risks. If you can get past the learning curve and “ick” factor, the menstrual cup is one of the easiest and most sustainable options for your period.

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Reusable cups are typically made from silicone or rubber and are inserted into the vagina. The cup stays put via suction against the vaginal walls. A finger must be inserted to break the suction, and then the user removes the cup, empties its contents, washes it and reinserts it. It can stay for up to 12 hours. The initial cost of cups might seem expensive, around $40 USD, but they last up to 10 years.

Related: 5 eco-friendly menstrual products that also protect women’s health

The study in The Lancet Public Health used data from more than 3,000 people around the world and proved that the cup is safe and effective. Not only are there no associated health risks, including vaginal infection or discharge, but the cups are light, compact and easy to travel with. Once you get past the initial sticker price, cups are one of the most affordable options and could be helpful for people in poor and rural communities.

“People in non-profits assume that [the cups are] not suitable,” said Mandu Reid, founder of The Cup Effect, which trains people how to use cup. “That’s based on presumptions about these women’s preferences. That they wouldn’t like them because they have to be inserted or because they don’t want to touch their own menstrual blood.”

There is certainly an “ick” factor to get past and some challenges in areas with limited access to clean water; however, the study found that 73 percent of first-time users expressed a willingness to continue using it.

+ The Lancet Public Health


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