You might remember a couple of months ago that I wrote a post about switching to reusable menstrual products. In that post, I talked mainly about re-usable pads, but now I’ve got another product to share with you.
Once I’d run through my stash of tampons, I decided to buy a menstrual cup. A menstrual cup works in a similar way to a tampon. To use it, you fold it up and insert it into the vagina. Once it’s inserted, the cup pops open and creates a seal around the cervix and collects menstrual fluid. Then you simply remove it, empty and clean the cup and then re-insert it.
I did a fair bit of research before purchasing my cup. While there are a lot of cups on the market, they aren’t widely available in Australia. I ended up choosing the Lunette cup, which retails for $54 online. The reason I chose the Lunette cup is that I’ve heard that they are softer and easier to fold than some of their competitors. They have a good reputation among first-time cup users too. Plus Lunette includes a cute carry pouch with each cup, which I liked.
I’m going to start by saying that the menstrual cup has a pretty steep learning curve. Using it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, I think it’s much more convenient than other menstrual products I’ve tried.
I found it pretty easy to insert, but I was worried that the cup hadn’t opened fully. The best way to check this is to insert a finger alongside the cup and just feel your way around. After a few goes, I noticed that I was actually able to feel if the cup hadn’t opened. It just felt…wrong I guess. Not unlike when you don’t insert a tampon far enough. I noticed that certain folding techniques made it easier for the cup to open.
Removing it was very difficult to master. For starters, I had to be a lot more *ahem* “hands-on” with myself than I’d expected. If you aren’t comfortable touching your lady-bits, then I wouldn’t recommend using this product. I found that the best method was to locate the stem at the bottom of the cup and then use that to guide by thumb and forefinger until I could feel the bottom of the cup. Then I would give it a little pinch to release the suction and gently rock the cup back and forwards to ease it out. The first few times I removed it, it was a tiny bit painful but I think that was because I was anxious about spilling the contents. Once I got used to it, things went much more smoothly.
I was a bit worried with how I would manage with a cup because I’m quite squeamish about blood and other fluids. But once I got used to it I was totally fine. The experience really opened my eyes to how far our culture removes us ladies from our periods, to the point where we have so many products that are designed to make sure we never come in contact with our menstrual fluid. Actually seeing it there in the cup was a bit of an eye-opener, but overall a good experience.
I didn’t experience a single leak while I was using this product. It was incredibly discreet too. You only have to empty the cup every eight hours (or more often if your flow is very heavy), so it’s perfect if you are at work or school. You don’t have to hunt for a bin to dispose of used tampons. You can wear the cup while you’re sleeping and it’s ideal for exercising. I used mine during several yoga sessions and I didn’t even notice it.
If you’re interested in trying a cup, here are a few handy hints I learned to make things easier:
– Practice using the cup when you don’t have your period. That way you can experiment with inserting and removing without the added stress of worrying about leaks and mess.
– A few drops of water-based lubricant will make inserting the cup about a million times easier.
– If you’re worried about spilling the contents of your cup, try removing it in the shower.
– Experiment with different folding techniques. Every body is different and you might find that one of the more unusual folds works well for you.
I am totally converted and am very happy with my cup. I would recommend it, especially if you are travelling, are a very active person or are looking to save money. It might not be for you if you aren’t comfortable getting hands-on with your body or if you are grossed out by bodily fluids.
Do you have any questions about the cup? I’m happy to answer any queries you might have, but let’s keep all the questions respectful, Mmm-kay?
Absolutely excellent, thorough, helpful review. I cannot agree more with you regarding how far society (as a whole) has gone to distant women from their cycles and natural bodily fluids. Sure, we’re better off than the days when men would us live in separate huts during our “moon time” or when a girl wasn’t supposed (or able) to swim, bike or do much for a week every month, but there really needs to be less sense of shame and like we shouldn’t be free to discuss these topics, which impact half the world’s population for a solid chunk of their lives, freely and without blushing in the process. Hopefully posts like this one will help get us closer to that day.
I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post. I feel bothered by the fact that there is such a sense of shame around menstruation, when it’s a completely normal bodily function. We’ve certainly come a long way from the times when women were shunned during their periods, but now there are a huge range of products that seem to be geared towards hiding the fact that you’re menstruating, and making sure that you never have to come in contact with your menstrual fluid. I think that these products and the way that they’re marketed increases a sense of shame around this bodily function.
When I came across a video about menstrual cups, I had no idea that such a thing even existed. And now that I’ve used one, I want to tell more women about them. Not only did I find it more comfortable than using a pad or tampon, but in the long run they are much cheaper and more environmentally friendly. I had adverse side effects from using disposable products for years, and I just thought that these symptoms were part of my period. Now that I’ve tried the cup, I haven’t had any of the discomfort that I used to experience. I just want to put the word out there, so that more people are aware of the range of options available for managing your period. Like you said, I would like to make subjects like menstruation something that we can talk about without shame or embarrassment.
I think it’s a wonderful idea, and it’s something that I’ve considered investing in a few times, but to be completely honest, i’m a bit scared! I’ve never even used a tampon before!
I would definitely recommend the Lunette for first-time use. I found that having used a tampon for years was a good stepping-stone to learning to use the cup. However, if you’re pretty familiar with your body and you don’t mind playing around a little, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t get this to work without ever having used a tampon.
It’s a shame that they are so expensive in Australia. At $54 a pop, a menstrual cup is a bit of an investment. But I definitely think it would be worth trying out.
Wow, what an age we live in… I’d never even *heard* of one of these before, how clever!
That’s one of the reasons I wrote this post. I was a bit iffy about writing about something so intimate, but then I thought that I should go for it, even if only for educational purposes. The disposable methods of dealing with your period get a lot more airtime than the re-usable methods. I didn’t even know that re-usable period products existed until I began having major health issues with the disposable products and did a tonne of research into other options. I’m just spreading the knowledge!