The menstrual cup is an incredible invention and I have gifted it half a dozen times to the women in my life who I care about.
I heard about it ages ago from a friend who minored in feminist studies and apparently learned more about menstruation than I ever did from living it myself. He reported that you shouldn’t always use one, but I’ve used a cup exclusively for the past decade with no ill effect, as far as I can tell.
They’re especially great when camping/backpacking in a circumstance where you would need to pack your tampons/pads in and out with you. Some types of international travel also pose similar challenges.
But they’re also great in that you don’t have to keep buying tampons (though I do keep a small supply of my favorites (huge fan of the SilkTouch o.b.) just in case I forget my cup somewhere or I drop it into a pit toilet 😬 or I have friends visit who don’t have one yet). And I do still wear liners on my heavy days to handle any leakage.
It’s always easiest to deal with them if you have a sink within reach of the toilet, or in the shower, but they’re also totally manageable in a public restroom stall, but I wouldn’t recommend learning in a circumstance like that.
One cool thing is that not only can you leave them in for 12hrs at a time, you can also put them in before your period starts — where a tampon would just dry out the lining of your vagina and possibly cause larger issues like TSS.
They come in various shapes and sizes — I haven’t done any experimentation, though I did select the size that matched my age and vaginal birth status and that worked out fine.
I’m very pro figuring out what your vagina is shaped like, so if you want to explore a bit and decide whether you have a narrow one or a long one or whatever and then select a brand or fit based on that, that seems pretty great. Or maybe just pick one and then optimize in a particular direction once you get an idea of what you do and don’t like about the one you picked.
I got mine when there was really just one option:
The Diva Cup (which is perhaps larger capacity than some?)
DivaCup - BPA-Free Reusable Menstrual Cup - Leak-Free Feminine Hygiene - Tampon and Pad Alternative - Up To 12 Hours Of Protection - Model 2
The DivaCup is an eco-friendly, cost-effective, durable, and chemical-free vaginal cup that will save you both money and time. It features leak-resistant air holes under the rim to create a seal that secures the cup in place. It is simple to grip for easy removal. We have also implemented our own...
Last I checked, Wirecutter had a number of recommendations, e.g.
Cora Menstrual Period Cup | Comfortable, Easy to Use | Soft, Medical Grade Silicone | Flexible Fit | Leak Protection, Foldable, Sustainable, Reusable Alternative to Tampons/Pads (Size 1)
Designed to be the most comfortable and simple-to-use cup, possibly ever. The Cora Cup is a premium, ultra-soft, reusable and sustainable alternative to tampons, pads, liners, and other disposable period products. Our menstruation cup offers barely there comfort versus reusable pads or tampons. P...