Just as well I’m not shy, because today I’m going to share some pretty frank details about ‘alternate’ sanitary products.
So if you’re a bloke, you don’t need to read this one.
In fact, if you’re a bloke I know in the ‘real world’, don’t read this, ‘cause things might get kind of awkward the next time we meet.
Once you start reading about menstrual cup benefits, you’ll notice a lot of women declare that they ‘love their cup’, which is kind of weird, because whoever claims they love their Libra tampons, right?
Now I’m one of those women.
Switching to a cup has been such a positive experience that I’ll never go back to using tampons again.
And I would totally recommend a cup to any woman.
So what the heck is a menstrual cup anyway?
A menstrual cup is used instead of a tampon. It is a reusable silicone cup that sits inside your vagina a collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbs it.
When inserted, a light seal is formed with the wall of your vagina, which means menstrual fluid flows into the cup – no leaks.
When you remove it, you simply tip the contents down the toilet, give it a rinse (or a wipe if you’re not at home – but remember you can leave these in for up to 12 hours) and reinsert.
There are lots of menstrual cups on the market. Each brand is a slightly different shape, just like we are, so if you don’t like one brand, it’s a good idea to try another until you get the right fit. I use and like the Mooncup* and their website is a good place to start if you have questions about how they work.
[See also: Tips for Using a Menstrual Cup.]
What are the benefits of using a menstrual cup?
1. SAVES YOU MONEY
Women can spend a couple of hundred dollars on sanitary products every year.
Compare that to a menstrual cup. Mine cost around $40. And it’s reusable for years.
Scratch sanitary products off the grocery list forever.
2. REDUCES WASTE
“One woman will use 11,000 disposable sanitary products in a lifetime” [source].
Replace thousands of disposable sanitary products with a single reusable cup.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina and is mostly associated with tampon use (although there are other causes too). It is believed tampons can increase the risk of getting TSS when they are left in too long (particularly the super absorbent variety) because it is thought the bacteria can grow in the presence of a blood-soaked tampon.
The other way tampons are thought to increase the risk of TSS is by absorbing the natural vaginal fluids as well as blood (particularly on light days), drying out the vagina and sometimes sticking to the vagina wall, causing tiny abrasions when removed (not to mention the fact that it’s uncomfortable). (source).
Like I said, frank details.
Tampons can also leave fibres behind when removed – not good. These fibres are often bleached cotton or synthetic (source) and are also thought to increase the risk of TSS. Chlorine bleach pressing against your cervix is never a good idea. Incidentally, organic cotton tampons are thought to reduce the risk of TSS.
On the other hand, most menstrual cups, including the Mooncup, are made from natural, medical grade silicone. They don’t absorb or disrupt the natural and essential moisture within the vagina or the natural PH balance, making them a healthier choice. A menstrual cup doesn’t interfere with the vagina’s self-cleaning process.
It is claimed that menstrual cups reduce the risk of TSS, although there have as yet been no clinical trials that confirm this.
4. MORE CONVENIENT
A menstrual cup can be worn for up to 8-12 hours (less on heavy flow days), unlike tampons and pads which have to be changed much more regularly. It can be worn at night while sleeping as well as while swimming or during vigorous physical activity.
You no longer have to carry spare tampons or pads around in your purse or duck off to the loo every couple of hours. And while a cup can be easily emptied in a public toilet, you probably won’t have to.
If you do have to do a change when out and about, simply empty the cup, give it a wipe over or a rinse with bottled water, and reinsert. You can give it a more thorough clean when you get home.
No more running out of sanitary products and doing a mad dash to the shops.
No more strings hanging out.
No more leaks.
No more smelly bathroom bins.
5. MORE COMFORTABLE
You know that itchy dryness for days after your period from using tampons? I can’t believe I just wrote that! Anyway, that problem is forever gone. So too the hot, sticky wetness from using pads.
Once you’ve got the hang of inserting your cup (it can take a little practice), and you’ve trimmed the stem to fit (take the time to do this properly – it’s essential for a comfortable fit), you don’t even feel it’s there.
6. NO MORE LEAKS
This has really been the biggest benefit for me.
I suffer from really, really heavy periods every month. At least one day a month I can’t leave the house – often I can barely leave the bathroom, which is inconvenient when you’re trying to parent a toddler and a pre-schooler.
Because a cup can hold a whole lot more than a tampon or pad, I am now free to leave the house again, even on my most heavy days!
This alone has revolutionised my life.
No more mess. No more dashing to the bathroom. No more dark pants. No more sleepless nights in awkward positions. No more cramping pain.
Can you see why I love my cup?
On the heaviest days, I still have to empty it once during the night, otherwise my cup, it overfloweth. If you don’t suffer from heavy periods, then this probably won’t be an issue for you.
So, after all those benefits, are there any drawbacks?
Well if you’re squeamish about seeing your own blood, it might take a little getting used to. I’m not squeamish, but I was a little grossed out the first time I used my cup. But you get over the gross factor pretty quick. I actually find it a lot less messy than tampons and pads. And you become quite intimate with the workings of your body.
Have I convinced you to give a menstrual cup a try? Or are you already a seasoned user? If you want to find out more, check out the Mooncup* website.
*This is an affiliate link. That means I receive a small commission if you decide to purchase a cup. I use this brand myself and love it, so I’m confident about recommending it.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.