Not heard of them? They were invented in the US in 1932 and were thought to be a part of some underground hippy movement. We have now, however, entered the period revolution. And it looks like the hippies were right. Health-conscious gals alike, who are selective about the what they put in (and on) their bodies – from the food they eat to products they slather on their skin – are beginning to apply the same level of care to their period products.
Why then, if we know that menstrual cups are the environmentally-friendly, TSS-avoiding, comfortable, queen of the sanitary product industry, is there still a growing hesitation to try the silicone solution? I’m going to hazard a guess that the hesitation stems from a lack of understanding and familiarity – and the “ew, gross, blood...and reusable” factor.
Here’s a little insight into why you should get familiar with the cup.
1. They’re easier on the environment
The average woman discards up to 14 000 disposable sanitary products in her lifetime. These will sit around in landfill, taking up to 500 years to decompose, leaching various toxic chemicals into our ecosystem. When you consider these stats – your run-of-the-mill tampons or pad becomes really unsustainable really fast, as we throw out about one shopping bag of rubbish per cycle. The good news? One menstrual cup will last for up to 10 years.
2. They’ll save you money
Did you hear me say that one menstrual cup lasts for up to 10 years? Well, ladies, that’s about $2000 you won’t spend on tampons and pads for the next 10 years. Cha-ching!
3. They’re more comfortable, and safer
You can leave the cup inserted for up to 12 hours without emptying – even overnight! Yup, no more uncomfortable pads necessary. You can also ditch the anxiety about contracting toxic shock syndrome (TSS), too – because cups collect menstrual blood instead of absorbing it, they don't carry the same risk. TSS is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the build-up of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria – tampons are common culprits as they nourish the perfect environment for these bacteria to thrive.
4. They stop the sanitary isle insanity
Menstrual cups come in just two sizes – depending on your flow, or whether you’re pre or post-childbirth – making it easy to pick what you need. No light, regular, super, with or without wings, ultra-thin or thick here. Just silky-smooth silicone.
But, let’s get real.
5. You won’t become a menstrual cup pro overnight
Using a menstrual cup takes practice, as it’s not like inserting a tampon – sorry, you probably can’t wear your fave pair of white jeans on your first test-drive. You’ll need to fold it, insert, release any suction and wriggle it into position. Then you’ll need to learn how often to empty it. Give yourself at least three cycles to master it. But, even if you’re still getting teething problems and not using it 24/7 – using your cup at home or to bed is still saving money (and a lot of waste in landfill). You go, girlfriend!
6. There will be blood
There’s no avoiding it, you will see your own blood – but it’s just like you would when you change your tampon or pad. Worried about emptying it when out at work, school, public toilets? Don’t sweat it – just do the same as you would for a tampon. Wash hands, remove, empty, wipe with clean toilet paper, re-insert. Easy-peasy.
Not sure which brand to use? In Australia, only four brands have taken the effort to be medically tested and get TGA listed – Lunette, Diva, Mooncup and Juju. What does medically tested and TGA listed mean? It means that they are made from 100% hypoallergenic medical silicone and have been tested to do what they are meant to do.
No weird additives, fillers, leaching colours, snapping stems or cracking rims here.
Doesn’t sound so scary anymore, now, does it? If you’re still not sure if menstrual cups are for you – that’s fine, I’m all about period positivity and you doing what makes you feel comfortable – but, make a conscious effort to choose something safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Your body (and the environment) will thank you for it.