Do you ever think about how many pads and tampons we use every month, and where they go after we dispose of them?
This subject is something worth looking into, and we can individually reduce the waste since there are a few environmentally friendly and reusable options available now – like the menstrual cup. If you have heard of it and wonder what it’s like, Alicia gives us the lowdown so that we’re better equipped to make that change. PS: It’s not as hard or inconvenient as we believe it is.
When I first heard about menstrual cups, I cringed and swore my undying allegiance to pads. However, for several reasons, I decided to give menstrual cups a shot. Fast forward to nine months, and my stand has changed, and I’m never looking back. So why did I decide to start using menstrual cups anyway?
1. It’s wallet- and eco-friendly
Paying an average of $33 for a medical-grade silicone menstrual cup that lasts for up to 15 years is an absolute bargain. On average, a person uses 22 pads or tampons during one cycle; that’s 264 in one year and 3,960 in 15 years! This waste ends up in landfills, or worse, the ocean.
The amount is staggering (Photo by Josefin)
2. Vaginal health
I was shocked to learn that most pads are reportedly bleached and contain chemicals that can darken your vulva overtime! Furthermore, pads may often cause rashes due to abrasion. When you use menstrual cups, your vagina can actually breathe.
3. It’s more hygienic
Unfortunately, many of us are familiar with the fishy smell that comes from used pads and tampons. This only happens when blood comes into contact with air – which means that there’s absolutely no smell when you use a menstrual cup. The blood remains inside the body instead of coming into contact with the vagina externally.
4. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
TSS is a sudden and fatal condition caused by bacterial toxins and has long been associated with tampon use. The risk of menstrual cup users is not zero, however, but only two menstrual cup users are said to have contracted TSS. In both cases, they used the cup way over the recommended maximum time (which is seven days, as opposed to 12 hours).
Your pressing questions answered
Moving from conventionally comfortable menstrual products (i.e. pads and tampons) to menstrual cups can be daunting; it took me a long time to decide that I wanted to give it a shot. Today, I hope to answer some of your doubts that I also had before becoming a menstrual cup advocate!
Q: Is it difficult to use?
A: There is a learning curve for sure. It took me about two cycles to completely get over it. That said, I already knew I was never going back to pads the very first day I started using menstrual cups.
Q: How frequently do you have to empty the cup?
A: It depends on your flow; every person is different. I have an extremely heavy flow, so I empty it every four to five hours on my heavy days. During your first cycle, pay attention to your body to learn how often you have to change it out.
Q: How do you empty the cup in public?
A: In a normal toilet stall, you can use either a bidet spray or water bottle to wash the cup out. Alternatively, you can use a handicap toilet where a sink is installed.
Q: Will the cup leak?
A: When inserted correctly, it will not. A vacuum seal is created when it is inserted, preventing the cup from shifting around even when you play sports or carry out strenuous activities.
You’ll feel protected (Photo by rawpixel)
Q: Is it uncomfortable?
A: You should not feel anything at all when it is inserted; it’s that comfortable.
Q: Can the cup get “lost” inside?
A: No. The vagina is not an endless abyss. I found this video to be extremely helpful when learning how to insert and remove the cup.
More important things to keep in mind
While I have nothing but praise for menstrual cups, here are some things that you should know before you decide to get your hands on one.
• You have to be very hands-on when using the cup. This means being comfortable with touching and inserting your finger into your vagina to check whether or not the cup has opened properly.
• Yes, you will look at your blood a lot.
• Remember that a vacuum seal is created when the cup is inserted to prevent it from falling out. Always break the seal by squeezing the bottom of the cup before removing!
• Wear a pantyliner as it may leak occasionally. When I have completely stain- and leak-free cycles, I consider those cycles a triumph. Realistically, not every insertion is perfect. But not to worry, leaks are usually just a streak or drop of blood; nothing a pantyliner can’t handle.
It’s manageable (Photo by Erol Ahmed)
• Boil your cup for about five minutes before and after every cycle. I have a ceramic cup that I use solely to boil my cup. (I’ve seen people boil their cups in a pot over a stove and that’s not for me.)
• Track your period with an app. I recommend “Clue”. Start using your cup a day before your next cycle is predicted to start!
• Some companies recommend smaller and larger sizes for pre- and post-childbirth respectively. However, I’ve learnt from personal experience that that is not the case; I use both small and large sizes with no issues.
Best of luck if you do decide to switch over to menstrual cups. Please feel free to contact me on Instagram if you have any more questions!
Ready to say goodbye to pads and tampons? Souley Green has the Freedom Menstrual Cup for you to try. Tell us what you think!
It’s a game-changer