There's this one topic that I don't think is discussed much except maybe between friends although it's been getting more and more »air time« lately---the period. I get it, it's a sticky topic (pun intended) but at the same time had it not been for it, you and I wouldn't be here right now so maybe it's worth discussing anyway and switching the narrative from it being something gross to something, well, magical, since it is part of what enables us to basically create human beings.
But before I get too much into the existential topic and philosophize my way off topic, I'd love to talk about something that totally changed my experience of the period and something I'm a great advocate of---the menstrual cup. I think there are mainly two groups of women when it comes to the cup: there's a group of women who use it and then there's everyone else who has a bazillion questions ranging from »but how do you take it out?« to »isn't it gross?«.
Well, to me, this one of the best feminine products and whenever I get a chance to talk about it, I don't shut up quickly, which might make you believe I'm getting paid to promote these but that's (unfortunately) not the case.
Now, let's start at the beginning.
What Is It?
Image credit: thankyourbody.com
It's a feminine hygiene product that is inserted into the vagina during your period but unlike tampons and pads, cups collect menstrual fluid rather than absorb it. They are made of medical grade silicone and last somewhere between 6 and 10 years, which mostly depends on your care. It usually comes in two sizes and different colors and shapes, depending on the position of your cervix.
Firstly, it's made of silicone and doesn't absorb fluid, which means you can leave it in up to 12 hours, including overnight. Like with any period care product there is not a zero risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, but with a clean, properly-used cup the chances are very small (there have only been two cases of TSS relating to menstrual cup reported and this was due to very prolonged use).
Secondly, let's talk about the product waste connected to the period. We've talked a lot about plastic waste on this blog and how to reduce it, now think of how much waste per month there is if we use tampons (especially those with applicators) or pads (with plastic lining). Short answer: too much.
And the cost. Can you quickly do a little math and try calculating how much you think you've spent on tampons and pads in the last year? While the initial cost of the cup is higher, the long-term investment is (if you ask me) worth it. Say the cup costs 35 euros and you have it for 5 years. That's 7 euros per year, which ends up being around 60 cents per month or per period. Can you recall a time when you spent that little on your period care product? Me neither.
The only two (okay, three) real downsides that I can see but I might be blindsided by its amazingness.
Since there are quite a few different shapes of cups out there, it will probably take a bit of a research to see which one might be best for you and your body. It can also take some time or a few cycles to get used to how to use it properly as inserting and removing it can be a challenge in the beginning, as well as finding that sweet spot that allows no leaks. It is also apparently not advised to use the menstrual cup with the IUD so please consult your doctor before trying it out.
1. How do I get it in?
You fold it in half, try to relax your pelvic floor muscles (yes, I know that in the same sentence as the next line just don't go together but bear with me) and insert it. It will unravel once it's in and create a vacuum, while your pelvic floor muscles will automatically hold it in place while you go about your day.
2. How do I get it out?
Due to the vacuum that is created, getting the cup out by pulling on the little stem can be a little painful, which is why I try to squeeze the cup with two fingers so the vacuum releases and then slowly pull it out.
3. What do you do with the, ummm, blood?
Simply pour it into the toilet and rinse the cup with water before re-inserting it.
4. But what if the toilet doesn't have a sink?
I think this is probably the most asked question around besides »is it not gross?« The good thing about the cup is that it can stay in for up to 12 hours, which means that in most cases you'll only need to empty the cup in the mornings and evenings when you're normally in the privacy of your home. But if your flow is stronger and your cup needs to be emptied more often or if you're traveling, the solution is quite simple: just keep a bottle of water with you when you go to the bathroom. That way you can quickly rinse the cup above the toilet and voila, you're good to go. I've done this in public bathrooms, on airplanes and everywhere in between and it worked perfectly fine.
So, have you been using the menstrual cup? If not, what's holding you back? If so, what do you think?
Note: This site is not meant to give medical advice but to express our honest opinion on this important topic.