Updated: Jul 15, 2021
Forget tampons and pads. Have you heard of menstrual cups? For this video, we heard from Kimiyo, the founder of WCF, who is interested in the menstrual cup and invited midwife Kana to explain how to use one.
The many names for a menstrual cup include: sanitary cup, full moon girl, moon cup, menstruation cup, period cup or menstrual cup.
Menstrual cups can replace tampons and pads and have recently become popular. Since sanitary products touch delicate parts of the body, many people may be interested but haven’t tried them yet.
Let’s learn how to use it and broaden your options for sanitary products.
View ‘How to Use a Menstrual Cup’ below ↓↓↓
Information and usage of menstrual cups
We’ll break down the information shared in our YouTube video below.
What makes menstrual cups different from tampons and pads?
Napkins and tampons absorb and discard your period while menstrual cups collect and process it. Menstrual cups are more expensive per piece than tampons and pads but they can be used semi-permanently. Although the initial cost is high, menstrual cups can be used repeatedly for each period, so in the long-term it becomes cheaper.
Where and how to buy a menstrual cup
Below, we list where and how to buy menstrual cups in Japan, Australia and Thailand where the WCF members live.
Australia: Costs around $50 and is available at supermarkets like Woolworths, Coles and drug stores like Priceline
Japan: Costs around 4,000 yen and is available at drug stores and e-commerce sites like Amazon and Rakuten.
Thailand: Costs around 1,000 baht and is available on e-commerce sites like Shopee and LAZADA.
What to be careful about when buying a menstrual cup
Menstrual cups come in several sizes which vary according to age, childbirth, body shape and more. There are individual differences so this is a guide. Having childbirth experience can be more important than body shape or age.
Click here for the size guide of the ‘Diva Cup’.
Model 0: For minors, height 167cm or less, slender body type.
Model 1: For those aged around their 30s, have never given birth and slender to normal body types.
Model 2: For those over 30, who have given birth and normal to larger body types.
Touching my first menstrual cup!
Kimiyo: It’s harder than I thought it’d be! It’s thick!
A menstrual cup’s thickness and hardness varies depending on the manufacturer but the ‘Diva Cup’ we used this time was the solid type. We were surprised that it was harder than we imagined but the benefit of the solid type is that you don’t have to worry about leakages while wearing it. Size is important to consider because it is inserted into your vagina which is the size of the diameter of the second joint of your finger and the length of your index finger.
Kana’s experience since she started using a menstrual cup 6 months ago
Kana: I had a lot of trouble at first. I struggled in the toilet for about 10 minutes.
However, after using it for six months, I can now do it in one to two minutes so there’s no pain at all. The first few times, you might take some time and get your hands dirty but just try to practice. Try to do it in an environment where you can relax. I recommend a bathroom where you can wash things if they get dirty. Since the vagina is muscular, it’s difficult to get inside if you are tense. If you think you can’t do it after practicing for ten minutes each time, take a break, drink tea, relax and try again. It would be a waste to try once and give up. If you find it difficult to get in, use lubricating oil to make it slippery so that it can be put in smoothly.
Folding it into a triangle is recommended
Folding the menstrual cup into a U shape is common but when Kana tried it, it opened before it could be fully inserted which caused severe pain. From that experience, she came to start folding it into a triangle. As a triangle, you can hold it firmly until the end and it won’t open while you’re inserting halfway so you can put it in without severe pain.
It takes three simple steps to fold it into a triangle.
STEP 1 ：Crush it flat
STEP 2: Fold it in a triangle to wrap your thumb
STEP 3: Fold it in tightly and put it in the vagina as it is
How often should you replace your menstrual cup?
You should replace your menstrual cup every six to twelve hours. The amount of menstruation varies from person to person and depends on the number of days you’ve been on your period. If you accumulate your period for about twelve hours a day when there is more blood like on the second day, it’ll leak easily. Even if it leaks, you can use a menstrual cup combined with a pad so you don’t have to worry about leakages. It’s safe to do this as well.
The line marked on the menstrual cup is a guide for when it should be replaced. For the ‘Diva Cup’ we used this time, it has a line at 7.5ml and 15ml.
Estimated daily menstrual blood volume = approximately 30 ml
・ The amount of each menstruation period (5-7 days) is 20-140 ml
・ If you divide this by 5 days, it will be about 30ml a day.
If you replace it at least three times a day, 30ml ÷ 3 times is 10ml each time. Since about 10 ml is the amount that can be accumulated in one menstrual cup at a time, a maximum of 15 ml can be accumulated but should be replaced at the middle line. If you change it three times a day and blood leaks every time, it’s a sign that you have a lot of menstrual flow. It’s difficult with pads and tampons but with a menstrual cup, you can get to know your menstrual flow.
What is a menstrual cup exchange? What to do with your used menstrual cup?
Wash your hands first before removing the menstrual cup! Throughout the day, remove the menstrual cup from the vagina, flush all the blood into the toilet and wash it with water. If you’re on the go, you can use a non-alcoholic wet wipe and reinsert it. It’s best to wash it with soap once a day so when you get home wash it well with soap. If you choose unscented soap, you don't have to worry about the cup itself smelling. When Kana has a shower, she also washes the cup clean and puts it back in. Before and after menstruation, disinfect the cup by boiling or soaking it in a disinfectant solution. If you soak it in a liquid disinfectant, it can be disinfected properly and can be used hygienically again.
At first, it’s a bit difficult to put in and take out but once you get the hang of it, you don’t have to carry any pads and it’s a convenient product that you don’t need to replace frequently.
We encourage you to try it at least once!
Born in Tokyo, Kana Masutani worked as a midwife for five years. She is working to help women become more positive about themselves through adolescent sex education and sexual health. She quit her job to study abroad in Sydney. She hopes that you become more open towards sexual health. See what Kana is up to on Instagram (@kana_mw2019)
Kimiyo Aizawa is the Founder of Women Can Fly. She was born in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. After studying abroad in New Zealand for a short time in high school, the vast land and different cultures made a deep impression on her. Following this, she ran seminars aimed at renewing local industries related to life science, open innovation and inbound activities at the Urban Innovation Institute. In 2018, she moved to Australia and worked at an outbound business for foreign tourists visiting Japan at a local Japanese media organisation. In November 2019, she founded Women Can Fly to create a brighter future for Japanese women, support the development of their skills and support the realisation of their dreams. She currently works at an IT software company, a Japanese restaurant and attends business school while running Women Can Fly.
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