Welcome to your introduction to the menstrual cup. It’s about to get real.
Did you know that feminine care product brands such as Playtex, Kotex, and Tampax test on animals?
I know what you’re thinking—how the hell do they test tampons on animals???
Actually, they test the amount of bleach on animals. What, you didn’t think those white tampons and pads were actually natural, did you? That they came from trees all nice and white? No, sorry. Those mothers were bleached. And you are shoving them up your vag.
I know, right?
Tampons also contain a known carcinogen byproduct, increase your risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and your risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome, a serious illness which a model recently lost a leg to.
Get rid of those chemicals! There are natural brands of tampons and pads that you can buy if you really want to, including organic cotton ones.
But I don’t use tampons and pads anymore, not since I found out about the menstrual cup.
What Exactly Is the Menstrual Cup?
Some of you may already know what a menstrual cup is. I had no idea what it was until I started looking up alternatives to conventional pads and tampons.
The deal is, it’s a small cup that you insert into your vagina that catches your flow rather than absorbing it. Some say this helps to ease cramps. The cup, when inserted properly, should not leak at all.
Fascinating, right? My first menstrual cup was The Keeper, which is made of natural rubber latex.
It Fits Better Than Tampons
Menstrual cups come in different sizes. You may think this looks large, but it’s actually quite small and not difficult to insert after a couple tries (you fold before insertion).
Sizes vary by age, whether or not you have given birth, and personal preference. This menstrual cup is the smaller size for women who have not given birth vaginally. Unfortunately, this cup didn’t work for me. I could not get it to stop leaking and the stem was really long. Some women trim the stems depending on how long they need them to be.
The position of the menstrual cup will be slightly different in every woman’s body. When I was first looking at menstrual cups, I thought, “I’m going to be the most natural hippie ever and not shove silicone into my body, so I’m getting the natural rubber.”
I used this menstrual cup for almost six months and just never got the hang of it. They say that it takes women an average of three periods to master the menstrual cup. For some women, it only takes one. For some, it could take longer (ahem, me).
The menstrual cup requires you to become familiar with your female anatomy. This was great for me because I had no clue what was really up down there. It’s great to be knowledgeable about your body so that you can better care for it.
You Can Pick the Material You Want
After finding out that the natural rubber latex just wasn’t working, I got my second menstrual cup, which was the LadyCup.
The LadyCup is made of medical grade silicone. These cups are much more comfortable to insert and get in and out of your body in my experience. They come in cute colors and the stems are shorter and have grips on the stem, which helps a lot when removing.
As you can see, they have air holes to create the seal. There needs to be a seal created in order for the menstrual cup to work.
For the LadyCup, I got the bigger size because it’s based on age. The menstrual cup needs to be inserted in a specific way and there are a ton of tips and folds that you can do to get it to work properly.
Whether you choose to go totally natural or get a silicone cup, it’s for sure healthier than tampons. I actually went through two more menstrual cups (a smaller LadyCup and finally the Lunette) before finding my perfect fit.
It Takes Time to Get Used To
I’ve been on my adventure with the menstrual cup for several months now and it’s been a fascinating, albeit frustrating, one.
It takes time to get the hang of this but when it works, it’s like magic. Here are just a few benefits of using the menstrual cup:
- You insert it and you’re good to go for 12 hours
- You can run, swim, pee, poo, do whatever you need to do with it in
- When it’s in properly, you don’t feel a thing.
- It’s more eco-friendly
- No more trips to the store for tampons!
Didn’t tampons and pads take time to get used to? The menstrual cup will too. You will love it once it works and you’ll definitely love not exposing your vagina to carcinogenic substances.
How to Clean Your Cup
When your cup is full or if it’s leaking, it’s time to take it out and reinsert it.
But let me stop you before you do this.
First, you need to wash your hands. I like using a castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s. If you don’t wash your hands, you’re putting yourself at risk for a UTI (yes, I got a UTI from not washing my menstrual cup my first summer using it).
After emptying the cup, you need to wash the cup. I don’t care if you just put that thing in, wash it again. Be sure to thoroughly rinse off any soap residue. Then, just reinsert. It’s that easy.
It’s really important that your hands are clean before you have any contact with your menstrual cup, so don’t neglect this step!
Not Liking the Cup?
Ok, I get it. Putting a tiny cup in your vagina is just not for everyone. Here are some alternatives to the menstrual cup:
Get reusable cloth pads. You can wash and reuse these. I ordered cloth pads as a backup on days when I don’t feel like messing with the cup or when my flow is lighter. Flannel is actually a great material to use as it’s absorbent or you can go for organic cotton or bamboo.
Try natural tampons and pads. These would include unbleached fibers. They’re easier to deal with if you’re not invested in the menstrual cup, but wasteful for long-term use, as the average woman has her period for something like 40 years and will use nearly 12,000 tampons.
Check out sea sponge tampons. These are pretty cool. I myself haven’t tried them, but Bree (this really cool girl on YouTube who is something like a menstrual cup guru) has and did a video on them, click on the link to check it out.
Don’t Give Up Too Soon!
If you’re having problems getting your cup not to leak, I would encourage you to check out my guide for getting your menstrual cup to stop leaking. Bree also did a video on that which is super neat and helpful if you want the short (or a more visual) version.
Don’t give up on your menstrual cup! You can do this. Contact the company that made your cup—after going through four menstrual cups, Lunette finally helped me find my perfect fit. You might have to do some experimenting to find what works for you.
Trust me, all this effort will totally be worth it in the end!
I really love menstrual cups even though they can be frustrating when getting used to them. They give me a way to avoid animal testing, be more in touch with my body, and be friendly to the earth.
So ladies… happy menstrual cup shopping. There are so many different brands to consider! I do hope you’ll give this a try, as it’s safer for your body, there is no known risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and it’s so much more convenient for you and the planet.
Cost wise, the cups run anywhere from $20-$40 and last for 10 years. Can you buy boxes and boxes of tampons and pads for $40 in ten years? DOUBT IT.
Embrace your womanhood and check out the menstrual cup; you can pick your favorite color, have it shipped to your door, and get familiar with your body all in the privacy of your own home. What have you got to lose?