Can teenagers use a menstrual cup?

Can teenagers use the menstrual cup?

The short answer is yesBUT, I think there is a more important question to answer in relation to teenagers using a cup to manage their period, and that is:
Should we be teaching teenagers about the menstrual cup?

To that question, my answer is a resounding “YES!”

Amber, the co-founder of Saaltco menstrual cups says,
“The cup can be amazing for teens. They can sleep at night without worrying about bleeding through to their sheets, and on lighter days they can go through their school day without thinking about their period. They can just empty and reinsert the cup when they wake up and forget about it until they’re back home.”

 

Why the menstrual cup rocks, and will LITERALLY save the planet

The menstrual cup offers more than just a convenient way to manage your period and a longer wear time than a tampon (it can be worn for up to 12 hours before being changed). This revolutionary little silicone cup is also a game changer when it comes to minimising waste created by the 11,000 pads/tampons that the average woman will use over a lifetime.

That’s right, each woman throws away around 11,000 pads and tampons

Billions of pads and tampons be disposed of each year.
The waste from these sanitary products either:

  • Ends up in our oceans, rivers and streams
  • Pollutes beaches and the environments of marine life
  • Emits toxic fumes when burned in our waste system
  • Is left exposed in landfill, where conventional (not biodegradable) pads and tampons do not break down for hundreds of years.

Bottom line – there is an increasingly urgent need for us to make more conscious decisions regarding our period management to reduce our waste.

2 BIG benefits of teens learning about the menstrual cup

  1. Education around sustainablility:
    Discussion with teens around the menstrual cup sparks the conversation about the negative environmental impacts of conventional pads and tampons. This awareness enables teens to make more informed and eco-friendly decisions when choosing period care products. It also encourages them to think beyond just their own comfort, and look at the impact of their choices on a global scale, and how their actions can impact the condition of our world for future generations. 
    The menstrual cup is the perfect way to make sustainability and selflessness relatable.

     

  2. It gives teenagers another option to choose from:
    Whether or not a teenager chooses to use a menstrual cup, it is vital that they are aware that it is an option, and what the benefits are. Teenagers deserve to know all the options available to them. Having a range of choices for managing your period means that people’s needs can be met. At present, women have more choices than ever for managing periods, including biodegradable and organic pads and tampons, reusable pads, reusable period underwear, and the menstrual cup.

What is the right age to start using a menstrual cup?

There is no correct age at which a girl can start using a cup. 

Amber from Saaltco menstrual cups says,
“We’ve had many teens reach out about using cups. Some are able to make the cup work right away, while others need to be patient for several cycles to make it work. 
One thing we like to tell teens is that using the cup is not an all-or-nothing experience. It’s okay to insert the cup one centimeter the first day, and call that a win! Then the second day go for two centimeters if you’re feeling comfortable. Eventually you’ll be able to position the cup so that you can’t even feel it, and then you can be a coach to any friends who would like to join team cup. We also find it is helpful for teens to understand what a hymen is and how very different each hymen can be in thickness, form, and elasticity.”


How teens can decide whether to try a period cup:

A teen can start using the menstrual cup as soon as they get their first period. 
However, a few factors may influence a teenager’s decision whether to use a cup or not. These factors include:

  • Are they comfortable with the idea of using a menstrual cup?
    Some teens who have started using tampons may be more comfortable to try a cup. Others may prefer not to use anything internal to manage their period.

    Amber from Saalt menstrual cups says,
    “We find that one of the biggest factors that determines whether a teen will be able to learn to use the cup is how comfortable they are with their body and how easily and openly they can ask questions. Very generally speaking, this comfort seems to be even more important than differences in anatomy.”

  • Do they feel equipped and supported to give it a try?
    Almost everyone can use a cup successfully, but it sometimes takes a few cycles to get the process down pat. Teens will need access to information and instructions about correct use. Hearing testimonies from other experienced cup users is extremely useful for a first time user to feel as though they know how to approach the insertion and removal process, and help them know what challenges to look out for. A teenager may also want to trial the cup for the first few times on days where they will be at home, so they can deal with any leaks or obstacles in the comfort of home.
  • Is the cup appropriate for their needs?
    Teens who swim competitively may choose to use a cup because it allows for swimming without leaks. However, girls with physical disabilities may choose not to use the cup because of the technique needed for insertion. Whether or not the cup meets someone’s needs is unique from situation to situation.
  • Do they like it?
    After trialing the cup for a few cycles, someone may decide they love it and want to continue with it, or they might decide that they prefer another means of managing their period. Menstrual hygiene choices come down to what a person feels comfortable with and what feels is right for them.

How to teach teens about the menstrual cup

Teaching teenagers to understand the cup can be tricky if you feel like you don’t completely understand how it works yourself. 
I recommend joining The Saalt cup academy group on facebook, where many women are sharing their experience with using the menstrual cup. I found reading through the posts on this page before trying the Saalt cup for myself made my experience so much easier!

Purchase a Saaltco cup for yourself and see why thousands of women are making the switch! Use code “BRIGHTGIRL” for $5 off shipping!
If you’re in Australia, the best place to buy it is from Amazon Australia.

  • Bright Girl Health school presentations on menstrual hygiene
    As part of Bright Girl Health, I travel to schools and teach girls all about period hygiene (including cups), the menstrual cycle and their hormones. I’d love to come and speak to your students!

    Click here to read more about Bright Girl Health school presentations

    Click here to inquire about a presentation for your school

 

References:

Elledge, M.F., Muralidharan, A., Parker, A., Ravndal, K.T., Siddiqui, M., Toolaram, A.P., and Woodward, K.P. (2018). Menstrual Hygiene Management and Waste Disposal in Low and Middle Income Countries-A Review of the Literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 15(11). doi: 10.3390/ijerph15112562.

Kaur, R., Kaur, K., & Kaur, R. (2018). Menstrual Hygiene, Management, and Waste Disposal: Practices and Challenges Faced by Girls/Women of Developing Countries. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2018, 1730964. http://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1730964Tolland Development Company. (1999). Tampon. United States of America. https://patents.google.com/patent/US6264972B1/en

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