Originally published 5/27/2012
Note: In this post I am going to talk about my period, and use grown-up anatomical terms. If you are a guy and you know me, just stop reading now to avoid future awkwardness. You too Dad!
Menstruation is one of those facts of life that comes and goes each month without any mention in the public spaces. With today’s large selection of disposable products, your flow can be managed tidily and discreetly, without any extra clean-up on your part. But a green girl starts wondering if there’s a better solution to highly bleached products with chemical absorption that are destined for a landfill. Could a reusable menstrual cup be an easy way to green your period?
- Better for the Earth – menstrual cups are reusable and can last up to 10 years
- Better for you – no more need for chemically treated material which can absorb all moisture from your delicate tissues
- Saves Money – the price of a reusable menstrual cup is repaid after several months of not buying pads or tampons
- Large (and safe) capacity – menstrual cups can safely collect even the heaviest flow all day without risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome
- Super convenient – because it’s already with you, no need to remember to stick a tampon in your purse before you go out
- Very discreet – you no longer have to worry about sneaking a pad into the bathroom without others noticing
- Odor Free – because the flow is not exposed to the air, it does not develop an odor
- Shortens your period – I have one day less of bleeding due to the mild suction of the cup drawing the flow out faster
- Easy – super quick and easy to use once you get the hang of it
- It takes a few months to really get the hang of proper insertion
- You must be okay with getting up close and personal with your menstrual flow
- You must be okay with getting up close and personal with your vagina, with your bare hands
- Polite society dictates that you can’t really talk to people about how great using a menstrual cup can be
I got my first period when I was 12. I was prepared, having seen “the movie”, and already received my “welcome to womanhood” free maxi pad in the mail from the leading feminine protection company. When the time came, I started using sticky-backed disposable maxi pads, and then moved to disposable tampons as I got older. As far as I knew, disposable pads and tampons were the only tools available when Aunt Flo came to visit.
After moving away to college, and getting on the internet for the first time, I ran into The Keeper online. This was the first commercially available menstrual cup. I was fascinated by the concept of collecting my period using a little rubber cup inside my vagina. The testimonials were glowing, and it just made sense to me. Unfortunately, as I was just out on my own for the first time, I didn’t have a credit card or car, and couldn’t figure out how to get my hands on one.
Fast forward ten years and I started following some crunchy mama blogs (and became a crunchy mama myself). I ran into a blogger talking about “greening her period”. She spoke about cloth pads (new concept to me) and also the menstrual cup. It turns out there were even more, better options on the market now than there were ten years ago. Around the same time, a friend randomly mentioned to me that she uses a menstrual cup and LOVES it. I was sold, and ordered one online that night.
My new Diva Cup arrived mid-period and I couldn’t wait to start using it. I was so excited that after a quick review of the directions, I totally went for it: escaping for a second to the bathroom, doing my best try insertion, and getting right back to look after the kids. That was a mistake. I could feel the cup squishing around with every step, and was pretty sure it was falling out of my vagina. The stem on the cup was long, and pokey, and generally making the whole situation worse. And on top of that it leaked all over my panties. (Note: thinking I’m super smart and jumping right into things unprepared is something I tend to do regularly. It usually doesn’t go well at first. Case in point.)
So it turns out there’s a learning curve to using a menstrual cup. Mine was about three months. It takes a good amount of practice to get the fold, insert, and twist just right so you don’t get any leaks. My biggest discomfort was that I found that the cup sits very low in my vagina (maybe I’ve lost a little tone since pushing out two 9lb babies…). I spent the first month on a hardcore pelvic strengthening routine, but didn’t notice a difference the next time I used it. Trimming the stem completely off went a long way in aiding in my comfort. Eventually I got used to the feel of the cup to the point that I didn’t even notice it was there anymore.
Once I was up to speed on how to use it, I FELL IN LOVE with my menstrual cup! I always used to be forgetting to tuck a couple tampons in my purse, or panicking because I’d lost count of the hours since I put one in. Because it’s always with me, and only needs changing once or twice a day, I never have to worry about it any more! More than anything else, I just feel freedom! I don’t have to worry about my period anymore. It comes, I use the cup, it goes until next month. My period is no longer a big deal! I will be a menstrual cup user for life!
A few notes on logistics: When the time comes, I dump the contents into the toilet, and rinse it out with hot water. If in a public place, you can just wipe the cup out with toilet tissue. Once a day or so, I wash the cup with a mild fragrance free soap (my kid’s all natural baby shampoo). At the end of my cycle, I sterilize the cup in boiling water for 5 min, and keep it tucked in a clean tissue in the corner of my lingerie drawer.
This is the Diva Cup I use (Amazon affiliate link). Other popular brands are the Moon Cup and The Keeper.
Still have questions? Here’s tons more information about when, where, why, and how to use a menstrual cup.
So, would you, could you ever try a menstrual cup? Or do you already use one? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!