Dear menstruators (and curious others),
If you haven’t heard of or tried a menstrual cup yet, now is the time.
The planet and your body will thank you.
Read on, my bleeding brethren and siphoning sistren, and rejoice.
The future of periods is here.
A Cup Convert circa 2015
When I went vegan almost six years ago, I began the slow yet rewarding (and, frankly, necessary) process of giving my life an ethical overhaul. As I became more aware of the negative impacts of consumerism on our health, the planet, and all of its inhabitants, I turned my attention to something so often hushed up and ignored – that time of the month. You know, that time when your uterine lining sheds out of your vagina because the ovum wasn’t fertilised this time around (praise be).
Let me interject here and say that cutesy pet names for natural and normal body parts or bodily functions have always made me cringe. It only further contributes to their taboo status and I highly recommend we bin them all in favour of their actual names. Ahem. Back to bleeding.
The thing is, half of the world’s population menstruates. Or they will, or they did. And most of them use disposable sanitary items like pads and tampons. Let me just chuck some scary statistics here: on average, someone who menstruates will use 12000 pads and tampons in their lifetime, which equates to 120 kg of waste that ends up in landfill. In Australia alone, sanitary waste contributes a whopping 18 thousand metric tonnes to landfill each year. And the cost isn’t only the environment – your poor bank account also suffers quite a blow.
With all that playing on my mind, coupled with things like animal testing parent companies and questionable toxic chemical usage, I knew I needed to make a change. I can’t remember who first told me about menstrual cups, but if you’re reading this, thank you. If I had to say one thing about them, it would be this: life-changing.
The basic premise is that a menstrual cup is like a tampon, except… better in every way. Here are some of the main reasons why.
Better for the planet
Menstrual cups are reusable which means mama Earth will thank you for making the switch. If you clean your cup properly (boiling it at the end of every cycle is enough), it should last you years to come (up to a decade). I have the same one from 2015 and the only noticeable change is the silicone looks a little cloudier than when I first got it, which is totally normal for transparent cups.
Better for your bits
One of the main issues with tampons (aside from the aforementioned scary landfill facts) is that they absorb more than they should while they’re up there. The vagina is full of beneficial fluids and bacteria that need to stay put, and since menstrual cups are made from non-absorbent material (usually medical grade silicone), they catch only what they’re supposed to, so your pH balance stays more, well, balanced.
Because the cup sits just below the cervix and catches the blood directly, many people have reported a decrease in the length of their menstruation. The blood doesn’t have to travel down through the vagina and slowly soak into a tampon or pad, so naturally less time is needed. I always bled for seven days as a wee lass, and these days it’s down to three or four.
A menstrual cup will set you back about $30. It may seem like a hefty upfront cost for a lot of people, but think about how much money it will save you in the long run! I was a low-income earner when I first bought mine, and I can confidently tell you it was well worth the investment. Plus, you can sometimes get them for free from sites like this (minus shipping and handling). You’re welcome.
Reduced (or eliminated) cramps
This is another one of those pleasantly surprising side effects that many cup users have reported, me included (though I can’t link you to any proper studies). I was always bedridden for the first day of my period, but since using cups, my cramps have practically disappeared. There are many theories as to why, from the slight suction easing the work the uterus has to do in expelling the blood, to the lack of additives that are found in cotton or rayon products, to a reduction in stress in cup users and everything in between. So while we don’t know for sure right now, what matters is that cramp reduction or elimination is very real and very, very wonderful.
Set it and forget it
Because the capacity of cups is much greater than other sanitary items, you can leave it in for up to 12 hours. I change my cup in the shower of a morning, and then just before bed. I can honestly say that I forget I even have my period a lot of the time because once it’s in, it’s practically undetectable. No strings, no soaked feeling, no smell. Heaven.
Oh the things you can do
Cups are a fantastic option for the more active of those amongst us. They can be worn while swimming, dancing, climbing, prancing, or in my case, yoga-ing – whatever your heart desires. And since it is perfectly safe to put them in in anticipation of your period (unlike tampons), you can be extra prepared for a sporting or social event that falls within your starting days.
Although menstrual cups were patented back in the 1930s, they only really became popular in the last decade. This boom in popularity means that you can find cups of all shapes and sizes and colours to suit you and your body best. While I went for a boring transparent one the first time around, it did lead to a hilarious nickname that I’m quite proud of – The Goblet of Fire.
I could list the benefits of menstrual cups all day, but you’ll never know if it’s the right thing for you until you try. I highly encourage giving it a go, it has truly revolutionised periods for me and countless others.
Have you used a menstrual cup? Did it change your period game? Leave a comment below!
From FAQs to quizzes to help you find the perfect cup for you, this website is a fantastic resource:
These are my two videos on cups with some extra information, and my hilarious initial reaction and follow up review:
Yuuki Menstrual Cup – Unboxing + First Thoughts
Yuuki Menstrual Cup – Review – LIFE CHANGING!
Cover image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Monthly_Cup_Size_1.jpg
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