Happy Tuesday! After my post on red raspberry leaf as the ultimate uterine tonic, I got super excited to talk period solutions with you! So now, I’d like to blog about my favorite and most valuable period tool: the menstrual cup. Making the switch from tampons to menstrual cups was literally life changing for me, and I will never go back. First things first, what is a menstrual cup? Well, it is an alternative to tampons/sanitary pads. These are exactly what they sound like- small “cups”, often made of medical-grade silicone or natural rubber, which are inserted into the vagina to catch the falling uterine lining that is shed during menstruation. The cup is then removed, emptied, cleaned, and reinserted throughout the period.
Now the question is, why menstrual cups? Here are some thoughts on why I switched from tampons to a menstrual cup:
- Waste reduction. Let’s be real- disposable tampons and pads are not sustainable.
A woman who uses tampons every month will purchase more than 11,000 tampons throughout her life. It takes hundreds of years (literally longer than a woman’s lifespan) for her tampon/pad to biodegrade in a landfill.
- Menstrual cups are cost effective. I spent $30 on my Diva Cup, never to spend money on pads or tampons EVER again… best investment I’ve ever made!
Conventional tampons and pads may contain chemicals and other unwanted toxins.
This topic has become more well researched over the past decade, but there is still much research to be done. Here is what we do know- the bleaching process used to create a white tampon creates a byproduct called dioxins. According to the World Health Organization, dioxins are “highly toxic” persistent environmental pollutants (POPs) which are a “known human carcinogen.” Although tampons may only contain low level amounts of dioxins, consider the cumulative effects of using tampons monthly for a large portion of your life.
I find it highly concerning that tampon and sanitary pad manufacturers do not have to list ingredients because their products are coined “medical devices.” Consider the fact that our tampons/pads could contain plastics, fragrance, odour-neutralizers, even pesticides. We know plastic chemicals aren’t good for us (remember the water bottle/BPA fiasco?), we know ingredients such as “fragrance/parfum” in skin care products are code for an unknown mix of chemicals. While our tampon/pads do their absorbing job, our vaginal mucosa could be absorbing all this chemical CRAP- sending it straight to our bloodstream. Creepy.
- On a more pleasant note, menstrual cups are amazingly useful for travelling. You don’t have to worry about carrying around a box of tampons. You can leave the cup in for up to twelve hours (yes, twelve!). Plus, if you’re travelling in Asia or other areas where bidets are common, they are super handy for cleaning your cup!
So those were my reasons to switch! I get that you may still be hesitant… Here are some of the comments I have heard about people’s resistance to use menstrual cups, and my reply:
- Comment: “It grosses me out to look at/deal with the menstrual fluid”.
My reply: Is it totally rude to say, grow up? Ha. Okay, but really… it’s your body and your flow. It’s incredibly natural. The physiology of your body is insanely amazing. Education on your body and your cycle can go a long way in making you feel more comfortable with this.
- Comment: “I wouldn’t be able to empty and clean it at work/when I’m out of the house”
My reply: The beauty is, you likely won’t need to empty the cup when you are away from home! As I mentioned, you can leave your cup in for up to twelve hours. I only ever empty my menstrual cup in the privacy of my own bathroom.
- Comment: “I have difficulty inserting the cup,” or “I’m afraid the cup won’t fit.”
My reply: Have patience. Read the guides on how to insert the cup. Try a few different methods of insertion and see which works best for you. Remember your first time using a tampon as a young girl? That was frustrating too. Also, note that menstrual cups come in different sizes! If the cup really isn’t working for you, you may need to try a different brand/ different size. Most brands carry different sizes for women who have given birth and for those who have not.
Let’s talk brands. I use Diva Cup, simply because this is the brand I was first introduced to, and the size works for me. Other brands I have heard good things about are Lunette, and The Moon Cup by Keeper.
Care is quite simple. Soap and water. Between periods, you can clean your menstrual cup by placing it in boiling water for a couple minutes, ensuring it is disinfected for next use.
There you have it! If you’re still not diggin’ it, I would suggest looking into healthier menstrual products such as 100% organic cotton tampons/pads, or reusable pads (cotton, machine washable). If you have questions, or want to comment on how menstrual cups have changed your life, please comment below. Happy menses!