5 Step Guide to Cleaning Your Menstrual Cup in a Public Restroom
Period… comes every month, finds us in different situations and in even more different places. We can not always choose the ideal conditions when it comes to the arrival of a period, but we can prepare and educate ourselves to pass the period without any trouble. One of these things is to always have menstrual products with you.
How the past has helped the future?
Our grandmothers wore only cotton pads, our mothers wore pads without wings, and then later generations got pads in different shapes and sizes, tampons…
And here we are with silicone cups, available in different cup sizes, shapes and cup forms. You can wear a Lily cup for low or high cervix; you can choose between reusable cups according to the period flow, you can cut it, adjust it, adapt it to your body… and even wore it while having period sex (Ziggy 2).
Menstrual cups might seem like a totally new creation, but did you know that the modern menstrual cup and the disposable tampon were invented in the same decade?
Women have been experimenting with internal period protection since ancient times – but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea of using an internal cup to collect menstrual flow started to take hold. Many cup-like devices were patented in the US and abroad, some used flexible sacks to collect the fluid but others used metal cups – talk about uncomfortable!
Women have been searching for the perfect period protection for millennia, but once we did find the ideal solution it still took nearly 80 years for menstrual cups to become popular.
In the 1930s several devices resembling the modern menstrual cup were patented. Leona Chalmers’s cup, patented in 1937, is regarded as the first commercial menstrual cup available for sale in the US. Her cup was made out of rubber and held in place by a woman’s pelvic floor muscles – no more bulky belts!
From the 1950s to the 1970s Chalmers partnered with a larger company to produce a new version of the cup called the Tassette, the company even created a disposable version of the cup (the Tassaway).
Over a decade after the Tassette company closed its doors a new latex rubber menstrual cup made its way on to the American market and beyond. The Keeper, made of brown rubber, carried on Leona Chalmers’ legacy and is still available today.
The 2000’s saw the rise of medical-grade silicone: a new material that is bacteria resistant and hypoallergenic – unlike latex, which many people are allergic to. This silicone was quickly adopted as the standard material for menstrual cups, both because of these benefits and because it is so much softer and more flexible, making the cup easier to fold and insert.
…and then Lily Arrived!
The design of menstrual cups hadn’t changed much since the 1930s, and it wasn’t until Intimina’s 2012 introduction of the Lily Cup that menstrual cups began to evolve again. We completely rethought the shape of the cup so that it fits women better and found a medical-grade silicone that was much thinner, softer and, more flexible, making the Lily Cup so much more comfortable to wear.
However, the biggest evolution yet came in 2014 with our Lily Cup Compact – the first-ever collapsible menstrual cup. This cup is made out of the same soft silicone, but it collapses flat and fits into a small case the size of a tin of lip balm, making it super easy to carry with you. It has brought menstrual cups into the mainstream and introduced more women to the benefits of reusable cups.
Being one with your cup
The application of each menstrual cup is the same. They are extremely practical because you can always have them with you, cups and discs are easy to clean and put back on. But it is only important to always have clean water, a little bit of soap, and clean hands (before and after inserting a cup).
Now when you know more about cups let’s discuss the most frequent question everyone is asking – ‘How then to clean the cup in a public place, in a restaurant or a public toilet?’. Easily…
How to use a menstrual cup wherever you are?
‘Remove, Rinse, Reinsert’ is the mantra of using your cup relies heavily on the middle part and without (private) access to a sink, one would think public bathrooms present a huge problem for menstrual cup users. Not so!
Unlike tampons, menstrual cups like Lily Cup or Ziggy 2 can collect menstrual blood up to 8 hours – so it’s a lot less likely that you’ll need to change your cup while you’re out and about. Most women pop their cup in the morning and remove it when at home in the evening, with public bathroom changes being a super rare occurrence. For those with very heavy flows that require more regular changes, doing so in a public bathroom is easy and simply requires a little forward planning. But it is not impossible of course, even if you do not have warm water and mild soap on hand.
Here are the 3 easy steps to make your menstrual cup clean in a public restroom :
Wash Your Hands!
Before and after handling your menstrual cup, always wash your hands! You can do this before popping into the bathroom cubicle, grabbing some toilet paper on your way so that you can open and close the door without transferring any bacteria onto your hands.
Find Your Position
Of course, you do not want someone to stare at you, so go somewhere where you can be alone with yourself. Breath, concentrate and find a comfortable position. Use your fingers to remove the cup by gently pulling it out.
Dispose and Rinse
When the cup is out, continue with the cleaning process. This is where the forward planning comes in! If you do not have warm water or boiling water around, bring a bottle of water with you into the cubicle, remove your cup and dispose of its contents, then rinse it with your water bottle over the toilet. You may not get your cup completely clean but this will help to dispel any stubborn clots and many women find it easier to insert if the cup is a little wet also.
Wipe and Clean
Use some toilet paper or wet wipes (again with the forward planning!) to clean off the rest of your cup. If you don’t have a water bottle or wet wipes to hand, you can also grab some hand towels or toilet paper, carefully wetting it under the sink before you enter your cubicle.
Remember, the entire cup is going straight back inside to collect more blood so getting it completely squeaky clean isn’t really necessary.
Insert the cup and you are done!
When the cup is completely clean you can insert a menstrual cup inside your vagina. Take your time, adjust it, find a good position and do it properly (use your pelvic floor muscles for help). Put back your clothes and finally, remove any excess blood off your fingers and head straight for the sink for one last wash. You’re done!
With so many reasons to switch to a period cup, from reducing huge amounts of waste to saving you money, it would be a shame to deny yourself a menstrual cup just because of a public bathroom, right?
Many are quick to make a mountain out of a molehill, but really, removing your menstrual cup in a public bathroom isn’t much different than doing so at home. With single-occupancy bathrooms pretty common, it might even be no different at all!
A collective group of “lady experts” at Intimina who love sharing our personal experiences, even when they are a little too personal. We believe it’s time to start breaking down the taboos around menstruation, motherhood, and menopause, and start owning our female health.