Today’s blogpost is probably ‘too much information’ for many people, cause it’s a subject you don’t really talk about publicly. I mean, you do with your girlfriends, but that’s different than writing an article and posting it online for everyone to read ;) ok, to the point now - I’ll be talking about my menstrual cup. Why I decided to buy one and my experience so far.
What is a menstrual cup exactly?
A menstrual cup is a reusable hygiene product that women use during their period. It’s a cup, made of either silicone or rubber, that collects your blood instead of absorbing it (like tampons and pads). You empty the cup once it’s full and re-insert it.
I remember reading about a menstrual cup for the first time about 3 years ago.
If we’re being completely honest, this is what I was thinking and I’m sure some of you can relate. Am I right?
- what the f**k is that
- wow, that’s gross
- how does it actually work?
- why on earth would you use that if you have tampons?
Why use a menstrual cup?
After reading up about it and several recommendations from my favorite zero-waste blogger (thanks Lauren Singer), I decided to give it a try.
Ok, so what convinced me to buy a menstrual cup and why should you?
For me, it was mainly for environmental reasons. I’m going link you to a blogpost Organicup wrote (at the end of this article), about the environmental impact of single-use period products. By switching to a menstrual cup, you avoid so much waste. On average 2.640 pads and tampons over 10 years time (and the obvious: you save money). That’s about 11.000 pads and/or tampons in a lifetime (for 1 woman!). And that’s not even taking into account the lifecycle of the product - what materials were needed to make the product and how much impact does that have? Cotton = tons of water, etc. Read up about that in the very clear and helpful blogpost, linked at the end of this post. It’s very convincing!
The health part also helped convince me. At least 85% of the cotton tampons (and definitely the ones that aren’t organic) contain glyphosate, known to be a cancer-causing agent. I’d rather not have any chemicals inside of my body, don't know about you?
How to use a menstrual cup?
Now for the answer lots of you are probably curious to know more about: the practical side. Is it easy to use? How does it work? So, first of all, you choose between 2 sizes, but if you haven’t been pregnant before, I think you’ll just need the small size. It’s literally a cup that ‘catches’ your blood. It looks pretty big, so that kind of scared me off in the beginning. But you get used to it and it's the same length of a tampon, just a bit wider of course. You fold it in half and insert it like a tampon.. There are other folding methods. It takes getting used to, also cause you’re using your hands more that you would with a tampon (it’s your own body, no reason to be grossed out though :)). But the important part is that it needs to unfold once you’ve inserted it. In the beginning, I was constantly trying to feel if the bottom of the menstrual cup felt round - checking to see if it had definitely opened up. But I began to notice that if I just inserted it and walked around a bit, it opened up by its self. No need for me to feel and ‘turn’ it until it ‘pops’ open. But this is me and that definitely won’t be the case for everyone. You’ll probably need to experiment with it in the beginning, but you’ll get the hang of it - practice makes perfect! And now for the cool part, if you’re not a heavy bleeder, you can leave it in for 12 hours (yay!). Sometimes I honestly forget I inserted it in the first place. This is a big plus for me, cause I felt like I had to put a new tampon in way more often. I know many people wonder if it leaks and I’ve personally never had it leak before because I have a very light period, but I have a friend who has.. So it’s all about getting to know your flow, in order to know how often to empty and reinsert it.
How do you take it out, empty and clean it?
When you have access to a sink in the toilet, that’s when you want to take it out and re-insert it. You squeeze the very bottom to break the ‘suction’ and just gently pull it out. For me, this is the easiest part - way easier than inserting it, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. Like I said before, practice makes perfect. Then, you just pour out the content of the cup in the toilet, rinse it in the sink and re-insert it. Yes, you will see your own blood. No, that’s not gross. It’s the nature of our bodies, we have to learn to accept that :) Many people have asked me ‘what if you don’t have a sink in the (public) toilet?’, which is a normal question, but I have to say that I’ve never been in a situation where I urgently need to take it out and I can’t. 12 hours is a pretty long time, so it always manages to work out. You can also use Organiwipes or toilet paper to clean it out if absolutely necessary.
Oh, and the shower is a really easy place to take it out and put it back in again (in the morning or in the evening), so that’s a good tip and the easiest way to do it. Just remember to boil it in boiling water before every cycle, for about 5-10 minutes in enough water, to kill all the bacteria so it’s super super clean. Important!
Another question was: do you feel it? I have to say that I almost never feel it and (like I said before) I even forget it’s in sometimes.. Doesn’t feel different than a tampon to me, so I love it! I have no problem working out with my menstrual cup in - one of my first tests was running 5k with it and it was a complete success. I’m so so happy with this purchase. It takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a lifesaver and you won’t want to go back to tampons!
Organicup has a really good video where you’ll find a full explanation about how to use it, so check that out if you have more questions and you can read more about the environmental impact as well. If you have any specific questions, you can always send me an email or a DM through Instagram. Want to buy one? Order online (you have so many different brands, but I'm very happy with Organicup), find one at your local zero-waste shop or even at most supermarkets nowadays!
From the desert with love,