Sanitary Product Series- 1. How The F*!@ Do I Use a Menstrual Cup?

by Amy, Volunteer Coordinator

Image: IG Tipsyvegan

If you are anything like me, the thought of putting in a tampon is a terrifying experience. Although they are massively convenient and make the least mess (most of the time), I still much prefer to use a pad for the sake of not having to stick a foreign object inside my flower! So, when I realised that menstrual cups were becoming a thing, a similar state of panic was instilled upon me. When people say “menstrual cup” my mind goes from thimble (what the hell is that going to hold) all the way through to mug (how the hell is that going to go in), there is no in-between in my brain.
But for the sake of science and for the Every Month blog I said I would test it out. This mini-series is going to be the journey of me trying out different menstrual products on a quest to find something that is super comfortable and healthy for me, and also better for the environment.
The first hurdle…which one?! On a Google of “menstrual cup”, I found there were actually a hell of a lot more than I thought. Panic instilled once again. Do I go for a MoonCup, Divacup or something off Amazon that I can’t pronounce?! I had heard of a Mooncup from various hip friends that are far cooler than me, so that’s the one I went for.
Hurdle number two…what size?! By this point I had been through a lot of different websites and was completely unsure whether I wanted turquoise or baby pink for my bits. Why does it matter if it’s violet?! Do they expect people to see it? Getting past this, I decided to just order one plain white one from Boots and went for the recommended Size B for ladies under 30 who hadn’t given birth (thank the lord!).
So, ordering off Boots was by no means the cheapest way of securing my new package but for some reason the blue and white tones put me a little more at ease as I added my purchase to my basket!
When my box arrived in the mail I was on Day 2 of my period and not feeling particularly motivated to test out my new collection device. But alas, I gave it a shot.
So, the box comes with quite comprehensive usage instructions. One of importance is the folding technique. After going through the different types and concluding that they all look the bloody same. I just went for a “lets make it as small as I can” approach. This is something I found quite tricky and took me right back to the image of “thimble”. However, I flattened, folded in half and then began the journey to find the right spot where it could be “worn as low as it will comfortably sit”. I found the process of getting the cup in quite fiddly and had multiple attempts where it unpopped before actually getting in as I couldn’t quite master the technique. But eventually it did sit comfortably and unfurled to create what felt like a fairly sturdy insertion.
Now, my main fear about tampons is that it will get stuck and be permanently lodged, a similar fear I had with my silicone pouch, not ideal. So despite only being in there for all of 2 minutes the first time, with some waddling around the bathroom to test it out and make sure it didn’t fall out, I then decided that was enough and tried to remove my Mooncup. The instructions detail to squeeze the bottom of the cup to release the seal (a very bizarre feeling) and the cup slides out. This was actually not as horrifying as originally thought and was relatively smooth once I had hold of the cup. I found angling one side down at a time gently helped and made it a little easier.
After having another read of the instructions and also the Mooncup website (extensively), I then read the bit about trimming the stem of my Mooncup. This is something I am not yet brave enough to try as I want to feel comfortable getting my Mooncup in and out without having to heavy breathe and take an odd squat position in my bathroom. But it states that if you are uncomfortable when sitting or walking because of the stem you can trim it a little bit at a time.

Verdict: I continued to test out my Mooncup for a couple of hours a day over my period. By day 5 I was feeling a little more comfortable using my little white device and found it relatively easy to fold and insert. The only worry I have is the removal but this just stems from me having a very nervous vagina that I swear likes to close completely at times (or at least it feels like it!).
Day 4 I think I did insert slightly too far up as it was a little more uncomfortable and I found it has risen slightly. I think this is why they emphasise placing the cup as low down as you can.

Next month I am going to be slightly more adventurous and try to incorporate using the Mooncup in daily life (rather than when I’m just sitting at home binge-watching Stalker and eating my body weight in banana bread). I’m a bit apprehensive on testing out my new pal whilst swimming or going to the gym but will report back on my progress!

This blog to some may seem slightly horrifying and have people thinking “why on earth bother with the hassle” so I’m just going to list a few reasons below why I am trying to move towards using a menstrual cup and for the same reasons why I would encourage you to do so!

1) To save money. So theoretically now I’ve purchased my Mooncup (for £21.99) once I’ve got the hang of it I shouldn’t have to purchase pads or tampons (which I probably spend around £4 on each month). The Mooncup website says that the cup can last for years with correct cleaning and storage so over 3 years this is already saving me over £100.
2) Menstrual cups can hold up to 28 grams, approximately 5 times the amount of a tampon. For someone with quite a heavy period this could make life a little easier.
3) Cups don’t contain latex, BPA, dye or other weird additives. Apparently, almost all tampons contain bleached rayon—a material that creates the possibly carcinogenic by-product dioxin. I see the word bleach and all-round panic (!!!). Cotton in tampons can also strip your vaginal walls of naturally occurring lining, making your flower (look, it’s a name I use, get over it) more susceptible to disease.
4) Health aside, tampons and pads are actually really bad for the environment. On average, omen use an estimated 16,000 pads or tampons in their lifetime. These end up in landfill and take years and years to break down.

Next month I am also going to try a reusable cotton sanitary towel! Check back on progress and don’t be afraid to ask any questions. Make sure you read up before you give it a try to make sure you understand how it works and if it’s right for you.

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