Yes, a menstrual cup. Yes, you put it up you. Yes, it fills up with period blood. And yes, you then empty it and it goes back in. Does this gross you out? Well, it honestly used to gross me out too. Then I found out the amount of plastic used in most sanitary products and the mind boggling waste, and to me that was waaaaay more gross. I got myself an Organicup and after a short adjustment period (pun not intended) I was delighted. Getting it in and out is a ‘knack’ but once you’ve mastered it, it’s faultless. There are a few different brands selling cups now. Mooncup is probably the best known and you can pick them up in Boots. I went for Organicup because the packaging was plastic-free. There are many great things about these tampon/pad alternatives but one of the tops for me is being able to leave it in through the night and during all forms of exercise. They really are more great than gross.
But don’t take my word for it. Here are a few accounts from lovely ladies I know who are advocates of menstrual cups for a variety of reasons.
Around the time I was at University I can remember hearing about menstrual cups. All I knew about them was that I thought they worked similarly to tampons only they were reusable and had to be sterilised each month. “Ick” I thought. Imagining myself stirring a boiling pot of silicone in a shared household, “No thanks”. I swiftly left that thought alone.
Fast forward to five years; I’m working away in an office, eager to live frugally and thinking more and more about the environment. I began to think about my consumption, was trying to produce less waste, shopping at ethical stores and began to consider my use of menstrual products. I don’t know if it was more an awareness of the environment or the repeated bouts of thrush but I knew that something had to change. I’d seen the Mooncup in Boots and thought it was pretty cool that a mainstream store was selling them, although I balked at the price. Then when I did the maths, £20 didn’t seem that much in the grand scheme of things. Not when it’s something that will last for years and that I’d be spending that on menstrual products over the course of a couple of months anyway.
I did some more research, discovered that my preconceptions were wrong. Tampons don’t just absorb blood but everything else, leaving you feeling dry and irritated, whilst menstrual cups collect only what your womb is dispelling. That’s good, I thought. I was slightly afraid of the size though. It looked scarily large, how was that going to get up there and feel comfortable?! But all the things I’d read pointed to it being an easy, comfortable and liberating thing to do. The final niggle was cleaning. I was living in a shared house and still felt pretty uncomfortable about the idea of sterilising in a pan of boiling water. After reading a little more, I discovered that I could sterilise with sterilising tablets making the process far more discreet and not restricting me to just the kitchen. And so, I took the plunge and invested in a menstrual cup.
The first time I used it I practiced before my period. I spent a good while reading and re-reading the instructions. And trying different ways to fold the mooncup so it was comfortable and easy to pop in. It took a few goes to get used to it and making sure the seal was broken before taking it out. If the seal isn’t broken and you try pulling it out it feels like your insides are coming out! So I really really made sure I didn’t do that again!
I felt semi ready for my period and felt a bit excited about what to expect but I was nervous too. When the time came I wore pads as backup just incase it leaked. The first few months it leaked a little here and there but nothing substantial at all and then all of a sudden I nailed it. I got the technique right and bam, no more leaking. During this time I was amazed at how different it made me feel. Unlike tampons there’s no string poking out and you can leave it in for a lot longer. I’d often forget I was even on my period and my menstrual cramps felt much less painful. Granted it was a little messy taking it out and washing it before popping it back in but it collected so much more blood than any sanitary product I’d ever used. It totally changed my relationship with my body. I think because you’re seeing the blood in it’s true form. Not on a pad or a tampon. There was no smell, the fact that I wasn’t chucking my blood away on a pad to forever be in landfill made me feel infinitely better and I started understanding my body more. Rather than be repulsed by my period, I actually found it to be rather beautiful. This is what makes life!
Fast forward another few years and I’ve stayed true to the Mooncup only taking a hiatus through pregnancy and breastfeeding as it took a long time for my periods to return. When they eventually came back, I researched again and found that I’d need to use the other size that the Mooncup offers due to both my age and that I’d birthed a beautiful boy.
Since then it’s been a slightly different story for me and I have endured leaks most months but very minimal. I have been using natracare pads as backup as they are much kinder to the environment and our bodies. I have thought about cloth sanitary pads but am undecided if I want to go down that path as there is an awful lot of choice out there and they all seem so different. For me personally I’d want to see them in the flesh to get a better understanding and that’s what helped me decide on using a menstrual cup. Unfortunately CSPs are online only. So, I’ve decided to save up for menstrual pants made by Thinx and have seen some amazing reviews for them.
For me, using a menstrual cup has been a game changer and if anyone is curious, I definitely advise you follow your curiosity and ask questions. Lots of questions.
So…mooncups! I started using mine recently (within the last 3/4months) because I was having a nightmare with my period being light but on/off over 2 weeks. This was really getting me down/ ruining a lot of knickers (sorry if TMI!) and I thought if I could forget it was happening for a bit it wouldn’t annoy me so much. I was also pleased with the other side effects being more environmentally friendly/ cheaper/ cleaner. I was a bit grossed out by the idea at first and wasn’t sure if I could get the hang of it. I watched a few useful youtube videos. I did struggle with it at first. Getting it in and out and the right size for me but now it’s a dream! You don’t know it’s in and you can monitor your period much easier. Wish I had discovered them years ago.
Started using it about 9 years ago after a friend recommended it. I think I was worried that it would be less good than tampons- messier, leakier, uncomfortable etc… as soon as I started using it I was a convert. Never leaks. Don’t get a dry feeling from using it at the end of my period. No waste. Cheaper. You don’t find yourself out and caught short without a tampon. I haven’t bought tampons in 9 years which had probably saved me £500 in that time and the Mooncup cost £20. Got myself a new one about 3 months ago but even so that is only £40. Only downside is if you need to empty it in a public loo which has communal sinks you can’t easily rinse it but often disabled loos have sink in the cubicle. Or you just don’t rinse it! Moon cup is favourite brand (only brand I have used). Would definitely recommend for all the above reasons.
So there you have it. Not so disgusting ‘ey? For me, the pros (personal and environmental) far outweigh the cons.
If you use alternative sanitary wear, we’d love to hear from you!