Tag Archives: shopping

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.

budget frame collage

21 Jun

I spent a few days last week rearranging the furniture in my bedroom. Despite the hassle of unpacking and repacking bookcases and the subsequent burn in my pathetic biceps, it’s felt like a real blessing to be able to change things up. My Aunt J swears that no matter how she rearranges furniture, it makes a room feel bigger. I don’t think I’m deluding myself in the thought that a physical change can be symbolic of starting a new chapter. And it’s my hope that this chapter will be better than the previous one. The best is yet to come, and all that.

With a new furniture layout, I found myself taking down all the photos in my room and contemplating new arrangements and walls for them to live on. I also found myself struck anew by the intensity of the pistachio green paint on my bedroom walls; it was definitely one of those “better-on-a-paint-chip-than-saturating-an-entire-room” colors. I thought briefly about repainting, but the thought of moving those bookcases back away from the walls was not enticing. I can live with my pistachio room a while longer.

Rearranging gave me a little more space to work with in terms of wall art, and after hanging my old frames I had a few ideas in mind for that space. I headed out to a favorite local thrift store and spent some time looking for interesting pieces. I didn’t see any awesome Velvet Elvises or creepy owl paintings, so I decided to focus on finding some cool frames.

John and Sherry Petersik, the couple in Richmond who write one of my favorite home improvement/DIY blogs, Young House Love, were my inspiration for the following project. They’ve done a number of frame collages in both their first house and their current one. From early efforts in their guest bedroom to an adorable heart-shaped collage in their daughter’s nursery to their dramatic new hallway with two frame collage walls, I’ve admired this look for being both charming and modern, and a great way to add visual interest. With the caveat that extra visual interest might not be necessary in a pistachio green room, I decided to attempt a frame collage of my own.

I picked up ten frames at the thrift store as well as a fun (bronze) leaf ornament. I was looking for frames that were diverse in size and texture, decently made, and inexpensive. I paid about $13 for my eleven items, which felt like a mission accomplished. Here are the fruits of that labor, laid out on the living room floor. Sorry for the poor image quality, this was taken with my phone.

I knew from what I’d seen on YHL that there are a few ways to tie frame collages together. If the photos and art featured are composed of many different colors, having frames of the same color is helpful to keep the look cohesive (see John and Sherry’s hallway, with all white frames of many sizes and shapes). If you’re using black and white photos, you can probably get away with a rainbow of frames. Given the bold color of the wall I was working with, I decided to paint my frames a neutral gray color. I used inexpensive acrylic paint from Pat Catan‘s, and I actually decided to make my frames range from light to dark gray. I used a combination of lights and darks on the leaf ornament and really liked how that looked. I applied 2 coats of acrylic, and then a coat of Mod Podge in matte finish to act as a sealant. As far as the artwork, I used some photos I had on hand, and I went through some artsy magazines and even pretty cards from friends and family. In the largest frame, I made an attempt at some amateur graphic art.

Here’s the finished product on my wall:

I’m feeling good about the way things came together. I agree with John and Sherry that it’s tempting to keep adding more frames and grow the collage further. Since it’s only been up for a few days, I’m going to enjoy it as is for a while. Maybe if I stumble across a fun creepy owl that I need to add I’ll break out the gray acrylic again and my hammer and nails again!

Total Cost of this project:

10 frames + 1 bronze leaf ornament: $13.20

three bottles acrylic paint (light gray, dark gray, and silver): $4.85

Mod Podge and paintbrushes: already owned.

artwork for frames: free!

Total = $18.05

By painting pre-owned frames instead of purchasing new ones, I definitely saved some dough. I did invest a few hours in the painting process, but I mostly worked on it while watching TV with my roommate. It’s totally unique to me, and I think it adds something sweet to my room. I’m calling this project a win!