No woman looks forward to the extra hassle that comes when her period arrives. Switching to a menstrual cup can make your monthly cycle easier to manage. Find out if one is right for you!

If you haven't heard the news, menstrual cups just might be the biggest game-changer in feminine supplies since the invention of the tampon. Women everywhere are hailing its virtues and for once are actually as happy and carefree during their periods as those women in tampon commercials always look. If you've never heard of them — or just never tried one before — here's what you need to know:

What is it?

A menstrual cup is a silicone cup that is inserted and used in much the same way as a tampon, but that is where the similarities end. Unlike a tampon, which is designed to expand and absorb, the menstrual cup is designed to catch menstrual flow.

Why is it so great?

^It's healthier

Traditional pads and tampons are laden with bleach, chemicals and perfumes that we probably shouldn't be putting in or on our bodies. Menstrual cups are made out of medical grade silicone, free of the nasty additives found in ordinary menstrual supplies. Because of the material the cup is made out of, the risk of toxic shock syndrome that typically accompanies tampon use is greatly reduced.

^It's less expensive

Most menstrual cups retail in the $40 range. Some women are reluctant to take a chance on something new at that price point, but with the average woman spending approximately $120 per year on menstrual supplies, it's an investment that quickly pays off.

^It's easier

Unlike an ordinary tampon, a menstrual cup only needs to be changed every 12 hours. This means you no longer have the hassle of your period several times per day, and also that you can get through the overnight hours without having to worry about leaks.

^ It may reduce cramps

There hasn't been any scientific research to back up this claim, but anecdotally, many menstrual cup users report experiencing shorter periods with less cramping than they experienced previously.

Types to try

Be aware when shopping for a menstrual cup that they come in two sizes: Size one is for women who have never been pregnant, and size two is for women who have been pregnant and given birth.

Diva Cup

Diva Cup

The Diva Cup is probably the most widely known type of menstrual cup. The Diva Cup is made of clear silicone and is slightly longer than the other varieties of menstrual cups.

Moon Cup

Moon Cup

The Moon Cup is made of a softer silicone than the Diva Cup or the Lunette, which some women prefer. It is also the smallest menstrual cup available.

Lunette

Lunette

The Lunette menstrual cup is very similar to the Diva Cup, but unlike the Diva cup, the Lunette is made out of a slightly firmer silicone and is sold in a variety of colors.

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