why i use a menstrual cup, and maybe you should too

15 Jul

Warning: If you are so immature as to be unable to deal with the reality that most women between puberty and menopause menstruate, this post will be challenging for you. Grown-ups, read on!

There are some topics that I have been hesitant to post about here on my blog. I am not a “share-all” kind of person, and there are some things I discuss only with a few close friends, and some things I rarely discuss at all. That said, I have decided that the pros outweigh the cons in this case, and although it’s not something I would bring up over Sunday brunch, I am coming out to the Internet to say: I use a menstrual cup.

I have been using a silicone menstrual cup monthly for five years, since the summer of 2006. This product has transformed the way I experience my period. Since literally all of my friends either a) menstruate or b) know someone who menstruates, I wanted to share my personal history in the hope that others can experience the convenience and economy that a menstrual cup allows.

I first encountered menstrual cups while in college. Some feminist group on campus would occasionally advertise for The Keeper, a brown rubber cup, and for parties to sew reusable cloth pads. At the time, I was a little grossed out by the idea. I guess I just wasn’t ready yet.

I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across the idea again, but I ended up doing enough research to want to try using a cup. I was finally questioning the idea that my natural bodily functions were disgusting. I’m hardly someone to shout from the rooftops that I love having a period, but I’ve accepted that it is a fact of being a sexually mature woman, and nothing to be ashamed of. Using a cup has helped me to be more in touch with my body and how it works.

Here’s what I like about using a menstrual cup:

  • It is easy. I had a very short learning curve with my cup. By the end of my first period using it, it had become practically second nature.
  • It is convenient. With a cup, you don’t have to worry about carrying extra pads or tampons around, or about running to the store when you get your period unexpectedly. Also, in five years I have yet to have a leak, even during heavy periods.
  • It is cheaper than using disposable products. I paid about $30 for mine in 2006. This website estimates that using disposable pads, I would have spent $226.33 minimum over the past 5 years. For tampons, $299.33. Again, these are the estimates using the least expensive pads and tampons as quoted by Luna Pads. Note that they also recommend replacing your cup every two years. In my research, this is not necessary. Before 2006, I used a combination of pads and tampons– but let’s say I only used the cheapest pads. By switching to a menstrual cup, I saved $196.33 over five years. Not too shabby, especially considering that my cup shows no signs of wear after five years… who knows how many more years I’ll get out of it?
  • It’s good for the environment! In the past five years, I’ve avoided throwing about 1,200 disposable products into a landfill.
  • It’s better for my body. With menstrual cups, there is no risk of Toxic Shock syndrome. You don’t have to worry about having processed, bleached fibers touching your most private of areas. Most cups are made of medical grade silicone, which is nonabsorbent, and easily sanitized.

Final points: It should be acknowledged that menstrual cups are not for everyone. I was sad to find that one of my friends, who purchased a cup after hearing my experience, has not yet been able to use it comfortably. Some women may take longer to become accustomed to using a cup. Everyone is different. Still, I believe that most women, if willing to give menstrual cups a chance, would find them an improvement to disposable products.

While researching for this post, I discovered that there are many more brands of cup available for consumers now than when I purchased mine five years ago. At that time, there were only four brands available– now, there are closer to twenty, with many options for size and color.

Resources for those interested:

This How to Use a Menstrual Cup page on Wikihow explains the basics of cup use.

This Menstrual Cups blog has many helpful brand comparisons to help women decide which cup to choose. This link will take you to all the comparison posts, which go into detail on everything from size to color to malleability.

The cup I use is a MoonCup, manufactured by a company in the UK. Apparently in the years since I purchased mine there have been some legal issues with selling this cup to customers in the US, because The Keeper company started manufacturing a silicone cup under the same name. MoonCup UK now sells their cup to those in the USA under the name MCUK. According to their site, it is the same product.

The Menstrual Cup community on LiveJournal is a great resource. There are countless posts where users provide advice about choosing a cup, using cups, and caring for cups.

Readers, any thoughts? Are you one of the few, the proud, the reusable menstrual product advocates? If you have questions I will do my best to answer them, but keep in mind that I can only speak from my own experience.

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3 Responses to “why i use a menstrual cup, and maybe you should too”

  1. Jon L. July 17, 2011 at 5:22 AM #

    Oh, Katie! I don’t even know what to say! I so badly want to make a bunch of mutually embarrassing comments here… but I guess that would put me in the 7th-grade-boy body-parts-humor category!

    I have been meaning to check out your blog for several weeks now, but life has been crazy! It is ironic that I am reading your post on this topic while sitting in the hospital room at 5:19 a.m., waiting for my wife to have our second child, which will usher in Julie’s return to the ranks of menstruating women. Perhaps your thoughts will inspire her, too, to try a menstrual cup.

    We already have switched to a french press for our coffee, which eliminates filters and provides organic fertilizer for our flower bed. I do think a menstrual cup would be the logical next step in our family’s quest to become more eco-savvy.

    • hopingfor July 17, 2011 at 11:57 PM #

      dear jon, i have no words for how amazed i am at the timing of your comments here. it is an honor that you took the time to read what i’ve written and to leave such mature feedback. and i’m impressed at the restraint you’ve shown with this comment in particular, so thank you.

  2. Karen July 25, 2011 at 12:43 PM #

    I’m glad you posted this, K! It would be great for more women to learn about this great alternative to wasteful (and often messy and uncomfortable) menstrual products. I salute you for posting this!

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