Disclaimer: This post talks about menstruation (periods) in all of its gory detail – if you’re not comfortable with this jog on! If you’re a woman that feels a little uncomfortable please hear me out first!
Growing up menstrual cups were never even mentioned (like not even once) in PSHE classes, in fact we got to see photographs of ridiculous sanitary inventions that looked more like torture devices than personal hygiene products, and naturally everybody laughed. We were mainly educated about tampons, much more so than pads, and always disposable. We were unaware that washable pads even existed, or the chemical processing that tampons went through.
Periods have been seen as unclean and taboo for many years, within in many cultures, often or not as used a form of female oppression whether intentionally or not. But in western society we are expected not to discuss these matters, and the media doesn’t help this much either. Periods are usually depicted on TV as something to be embarrassed by or ashamed of (think of the ridiculous Tampax/Mother Nature ads) and blood is never once shown – instead just a blue watery substance. For me it is time to move away from this ridiculous taboo and embrace my body. Having two daughters – one nearing her teen years – I feel more of a responsibility than ever to break these nonsensical stigmas.
I always knew that sanitary products weren’t the best for me, after all they are never comfortable, but I didn’t realise just how bad they were until edited this article on Primal Eye by Amy of Get That Glow.
Looking back I’m angry at the lack of education provided, I’m even more angry at myself that it has taken me 32 years to even realise that I actually have more options available to me that are better for both my health and the environment.
The History of the Menstrual Cup
The the first prototype menstrual cups, also known as catamenial sacks, were invented in 1860’s – they were basically little catamenial sack a suspended from belts but they just never made it onto the market, although inventive it’s rather unsurprising they weren’t popular.
In 1937, the more modern menstrual cups were invented by an America actress called Leona Chalmers – they were made of latex and were a revolutionary product at that time considering women were still wearing pads that utilised belts and buckles to keep them in place. This new invention meant that women could be free and comfortable in what clothes they were wearing. Sadly with the onset of World War II came a shortage of latex and company production stopped. It wasn’t until the end of the 1950s that Chalmers came back with ‘Tass-ette’ – her new and improved menstrual cup.
Why the Menstrual Cup and Not Tampons?
Tampons contain rayon fibres which are incredibly abrasive to our delicate, vaginal tissue and so can cause irritation when used, and are bleached white with chlorine, producing dioxin – a chemical linked to endometriosis and breast cancer. Dioxin can also be passed into your breast milk and then onto your baby – for me, this has to be one of the scariest factors that has put me off using tampons for life. Cotton tampons are great as long as they are organic – otherwise they will contain several hormone disrupting chemicals from the use of pesticides.
And lastly we need to look at the environmental impact of disposable feminine hygiene products – the average woman throws away up to 140kg of sanitary products, over 11,000 tampons or pads, in her lifetime – there’s a lot of women in the world. And where does this waste go? Straight into landfills and the sea.
A menstrual cup will last you a lifetime, won’t negatively impact your health or the environment, and it’s a whole lot cheaper – It’s a no brainer!
What is the Mooncup?
The Mooncup is a reusable soft, silicone cup that works by forming a gentle vacuum seal, collecting menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. They’re safer, greener, and cheaper than tampons. The Mooncup is made from medical grade silicone, not latex, and contains no bleaches, BPA, dyes or toxins or bleaches so it’s suitable for women with latex allergies and/or sensitive skin.
The Mooncup totes many benefits:
- It’s eco-friendly as it produces zero waste.
- It’s reusable and lasts for years.
- It’s cheaper, healthier, and more convenient than tampons.
- You can measure your blood loss.
- Doesn’t cause dryness or irritation, or disrupt your natural balance.
- Suitable for sports, swimming, and overnight use.
It also comes in 2 sizes:
- Size A – Recommended for those who are 30 and over, and all who have given birth vaginally regardless of age.
- Size B – Recommended for those under the age of 30 who have not given birth vaginally.
There’s only a 3mm size discrepancy but it makes all the difference!
How Do You Use the Mooncup?
To use the Mooncup you must wash your hands both before and after use, like you would with tampons, and then simply fold the cup using one of the two methods in the video below (alternatively click here for pictures). Once folded you insert the Mooncup so that it sits as low as it can within the vaginal wall, then release so that the cup opens and forms a seal to hold it in place. Empty every 4-8 hours, or leave in for up to 8 hours for overnight use or when needed.
To remove pinch the base to break the seal, wiggle it out, empty it. You can use the little ‘stem’ at the end to help you to find the base. Empty the contents of the Mooncup into the toilet, wipe with toilet paper to remove residue and then wash with plain water or unscented soap before inserting again.
For use when out and about you can take a small bottle of water with you to discreetly wash the Mooncup out, alternatively just wipe clean with toilet paper and when you get home make sure to give it a wash.
For a more thorough clean between periods you can sterilise in diluted sterilising solution or place in a pan of boiling water – uncovered.
So What’s the Mooncup Like to Use?
When I first opened up the box and removed my Mooncup from the pouch I was a little bit taken aback at how big it was – it’s like hella big! Then when I realised you fold it up it isn’t much bigger than a tampon, and besides I’ve pushed 2 big babies out of my bajingo so it’s all good. Before use I sterilised my Mooncup in a pan of boiling water.
In theory the Mooncup is very easy to use – just wash your hands, fold it, and pop it in – right? Well, you’re half right, although it is easy-ish to use it does take a little practice. Because it sits much lower than a tampon, at first it’s a little bit fiddly to get it into the right position, and sometimes forming the vacuum seal isn’t the easiest. It definitely wasn’t uncomfortable to insert and there were no pinching or dragging sensations.
I found that the little stem that is attached was just way too long for me and I had to cut it off – I tried a few lengths but ended up removing the whole stem in the end. The stem also helps you to reach the base so if you can keep it, do.
The one thing I noticed was that once it was in the right position I couldn’t even feel it anymore, often or not with tampons I knew that they were there – especially once they start to absorb a lot of blood. What I did get however was a bizarre sensation of wooziness that I can’t even explain, upon further research this seems to be normal and after a while it kind of just went away.
I’ve never been a fan of tampons, you definitely would never have caught me touching a pinchy applicator tampon that’s for sure. Tampons would always feel sooooo dry, dragging my skin upon insertion, and ultimately causing me vaginal dryness that would in the end result in a mild case of thrush – not so great. With the Mooncup none of this was an issue, I actually started to see vaginal mucus mixed in with my blood – too much information I know – but it’s great to see that my body is working.
The cup has a habit of migrating too far up, especially if you inserted it too far up in the first place, so you have to kind of use your pelvic floor to push it downward, feel for the stem with your fingers, and then root and wiggle it out. When you pinch the base of the cup to break the seal it does make a little bit of a squelchy sound and feels pretty odd but nothing painful or uncomfortable. When you see the blood in the cup it’s not that alarming, I’m not that fussed by that sort of thing anyway. I did however find that I was getting blood absolutely everywhere trying to get it out at first, especially when you have chunky thighs and there’s not much room between them and the gap in the toilet seat. After a few uses this got easier.
As my cycle progressed the colour, texture, and viscosity of my blood changed, and toward the end of my cycle I found that it was getting a bit too thick to remove from the cup easily. I loved cleaning my Mooncup though, this felt therapeutic and a lot more hygienic than using tampons – I am a creature of habit and rituals so this part was perfect for me. I used Dr Bronner’s Unscented Liquid Castile Soap to wash mine.
Another great feature of the Mooncup is the measurement line – I know you might be wondering as to why that’s a good thing? But knowing your blood loss can tell you a lot about your health – for instance I’ve known for a while now that I’m a very heavy bleeder but I didn’t realise just how heavy. I was filling my Mooncup in an hour or so which has prompted me to do some further research into my health as this can be a sign of polyps (small cysts) and other problems. Seeing the amount of blood measured is good – it makes you feel connected with your body, getting a deeper understanding of what’s going on and your overall health. You just don’t get this with tampons.
So leakage – this was my main concern – does the Mooncup leak? Sadly, for me yes it did but this is clearly down to my ridiculously heavy blood flow. If I managed to keep up with it in time, and the seal was in place correctly, I suffered no leakage.
After using the Mooncup I started to feel a lot more connected with my body and its natural functions which actually brought me a sense of calmness that I wouldn’t normally associate with my period. Any sign of period cramps dissipated too, although after cleaning up my diet I have never really experienced them that badly. There is definitely a feeling of freedom when using this but initially I felt anxious learning how to insert and remove it – the mess was distressing and I was getting mad at myself for not cracking it.
The little cotton pouch that it comes in makes it great for keeping in your handbag, and once you get the hang of things it doesn’t cause any problems when out and about so you can definitely strut your stuff with confidence!
Tampons are full of bleach, are too dry, and cause dryness, absorbing natural moisture often leading to irritation and thrush so what really is the point in using them? It’s horrifying to think that 22 tampons are used on average per period, and I’m happy that I’m doing my best to reduce this waste. The Mooncup is so much more hygienic than a tampon – you clean it regularly, it can’t absorb any germs, and the fact that it’s so much better for the Earth means that I’ll never turn back to tampons – except for maybe the odd set of organic cotton ones for my very heavy days.
You can keep up to date with Mooncup by following them on one of the links below:
For an opportunity to win your very own Mooncup just click on this link and follow the instructions within the post!
Have you used the Mooncup? What do you think of yours? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.