Updated: Nov 14, 2019
I’ve heard mixed messages from friends about menstrual cups the past few years. Some swear by it and will never go back while some describe a murder scene with blood everywhere. Many of the friends I made on the farm in Israel were in love with their menstrual cups. It made them feel super connected to their period cycles, their heightened feminine energy, their blood, and their vaginas!
I had never felt this connection. My period would come and go just like any other nuisance that I couldn't get rid of. More than knowing that menstrual cups are better for the environment and for my wallet, it was hearing people talk about their periods and bodies with such love and compassion that inspired me to give it a try.
I never really know what to expect when it comes to the flow of my period, which makes using tampons and pads that much more frustrating. Never knowing which size of anything to use and how long it would last me before I became a bloody mess. This was one thing about the menstrual cup I looked forward to. No matter if one drop of blood comes out or if I exploded, I knew I would be good.
First off, the cup was extremely comfortable for me. Putting it in and taking it out was way easier than I thought it would be and once it was there, I couldn't feel it at all. The cup gave me the freedom of not having to deal with the suffocation of a tampon or the cozy bulk diaper of a pad.
It's a bit of a learning curve. The first time I put my cup in and took it out, I was squatting on my bathroom floor with a mirror under me. By the end of that same day though, I was emptying my cup in the stall of a cafe. At least something good came out of my crazy heavy flow, I was forced to learn quick! They say that you have to change your cup on average about every 12 hours. However, with a heavier flow, I sometimes have to change it 3 times in one day.
I like to wear a liner with the cup just in case, which I recommend to everyone until you get used to it. I would give it a few rounds before you start wearing it to your tinder date.
Even though I leaked a bit, I am absolutely in love! I'm in love with my cup, and even falling in love with my period blood and vagina.
Picking your Perfect Cup
My biggest worry in trying out a menstrual cup was that all would be dandy until it got stuck in me and I ended up at the hospital. When I was researching the different brands, the main thing I was looking for was "good for beginners" and "easy removal." I came across a list that compares the size, length, diameter, capacity, stem length, and firmness of many of the big menstrual cup brands.
My choice ultimately came down to how many blog articles and reviews I stumbled upon that said they loved this cup, but I know people with many different brands who swear by it just the same. All of the cups are very similar, with the main difference being the stem length, height, and size.
In terms of size, most brands have two options- small or large. They say that if you're under 30 or haven't yet had a baby you're a size 1 and if you have had a baby or are over 30 then a size 2 is likely the right choice. The heaviness of your flow is not as important when picking cup size, as the cups capacity to carry does not vary that much.
When choosing a cup that's right for you, it is also important to know if your cervix is high or low during menstruation. The simplest way to do this is to stick your finger up there right before your period and feel around in there. If your cervix is high then you might not ever be able to reach it, this means any cup will fit in there! If your cervix is low, you'll feel it within an inch or two and that means you need a shorter length cup.
For my first cup I ended up getting a Sckoon cup size 1.
Not only are tampons and pads horrible for the environment, but they are full of toxins that get absorbed into our bodies. I recently discovered that because pads and tampons are "medical devices," companies are not required to tell us every ingredient in the products.
Most products are made using pesticide heavy cotton that undergoes a bleaching process which leave the products with dioxins and many with fragrant chemical additives. Cellulose wadding, polymers, tissue wraps, laminates, super absorbent gels, open-celled foams, myreth-3-myristate, zeolites, alcohol ethoxylates, bisphenol A (BPA), antibacterial agents, styrene, pyridine, methyleugenol, butylated hydroxyanisole, phthalates , synthetic musks, clycerol esters, and polysorbate-20 are just some of the chemical toxins that have been found in our conventional pads and tampons. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, heart disease, endocrine gland dysfunctions, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hormone dysfunctions, birth defects, dryness, and infertility.
The vaginal wall is highly permeable, making the absorption of these toxic chemicals extremely high. Absorption through the skin goes directly to your bloodstream, where it's a free for all toxin party. Which organ or tissue will end up hosting this lovely toxin? May the best body part win.
Environmental and Worldy Impacts
On average, a women will use 10,000 pads and tampons in her lifetime. In the United States alone, about 20 billion pads and tampons end up in landfills every year. This is equivalent to 180 billion plastic bags.
To produce, distribute, and dispose of pads and tampons, a lot of natural resources are used. From gasoline and fossil fuels, to pesticides and water waste, sanitary products are not good for us or the environment.
While using a menstrual cup will greatly reduce the amount of waste, it can also improve accessibility to sanitary products. Around the world, 250 million women do not have access to feminine hygiene products. Many of these women are left home bound during their periods.
In the United States, women are giving up their food stamps in exchange for money so that they can purchase feminine hygiene products. Social service agencies are handing out pads and tampons to women that will last them 1-2 months out of the year. Monetary limits and accessibility can not keep up with the price and quantity that singular use pads and tampons require.
Not to say that the government should magically appear at our doorstep on the day of our first period and hand us a menstrual cup, but.... wait, yeah, that would be really cool. Actually all of the cups we would need for a lifetime supply would fit nice and neat in a little gift bag. Let it rain menstrual cups and I will be happy!
Save your Money!
On average, women spend $120 on pads and tampons annually. A menstrual cup costs about $20-$40, depending on the brand, and only needs to be replaced every 1-2 years.
I do recognize that while I have grown a deep love for menstrual cups, they are not for everyone. Alternative options such as organic pads and tampons, and reusable pads are also much safer for your body and our planet. I think everyone should try out a cup, but at the end of the day, listen to your body and do what feels right for you. :)
Save your wallet! Save mother earth! Save your vagina! Save women from this bloody mess!