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    What’s a Menstrual Cup?

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    There’s a lot of buzz about this eco-friendly alternative to pads and tampons. But what exactly is a menstrual cup?

    How Does It Work?

    The small, flexible cup is made of silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing your flow, like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects it.

    Just before your period begins, tightly fold the menstrual cup and insert it like a tampon without an applicator. Used correctly, you shouldn’t feel it. It’s similar to putting a diaphragm or birth control ring in place.

    Your cup will spring open (you may need to rotate it first) and rest against the walls of your vagina. It forms a seal to prevent leaks. The blood then simply drips into the cup.

    Some types are disposable, but most are reusable. To remove it, you pull the stem sticking out the bottom and pinch the base to release the seal. Then you just empty, wash with soap and water, and replace. At the end of your cycle, you can sterilize your cup in boiling water.

    Like any other product for your period, you can buy them online or over the counter at grocery and drugstores.

    Are They New to the Feminine Care Aisle?

    Menstrual cups have actually been around since the 1930s, but America was slow to catch on.

    In 2014, a Kickstarter campaign raised more than $325,000 for a new, collapsible version with a carrying case. That added to the recent interest on social media.

    Pros

    It’s eco- and wallet-friendly. A reusable cup that costs $30 to $40 can last up to 10 years. That means less waste in landfills and less money over time. These benefits don’t apply to disposable brands though.

    You can leave it in for 12 hours. Tampons need to be changed every 4 to 8 hours, depending on your flow. But cups can stay in longer, so they’re good for overnight protection. And once you get the hang of inserting it, there’s no need to wear a backup pad or liner.

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