By Linsy Hilton 

Periods. How do you deal with yours? I mean, beyond chocolate binges, tantrums, and tears? Tampons? Pads? If you’ve heard of a menstrual cup, but the idea of using one makes you squirm, this post is for you!  

Last year I moved to the hills, dug a vegetable garden, and started composting. My new lifestyle led me on a mission to reduce my footprint and further cut down on plastic and single-use products.

I Made The Switch, Let me Tell You Why

The next item to ditch from my consumerist lifestyle were tampons. I’d been considering a menstrual cup for some time, but had my fears. How do I insert it? Is it comfortable? What do I do when it’s full? I imagined a trip to the bathroom ending like a scene from Kill Bill, sans me walking away feeling as kick-ass as Uma Thurman.

My roommate was a veteran cup user, so I drilled her with questions. Once I was convinced I could conquer the cup, I bravely set out to buy one. I felt like a teenager purchasing my first box of tampons. I was sure the lady at the register knew I was going home to awkwardly manoeuver the cup inside of my cervix for the first time, so I quickly paid, avoiding all eye contact, and took my new lady tool home.

Doomsday

The big day arrived. My period came…it was finally time. Armed with my sanitised cup, I nervously headed to the bathroom, my tense body not ideal for a smooth deployment. I wasn’t sure how to stand. Should I squat? One leg up? I read the instructions again. My mind was racing, so I took the phone-a-friend option and screamed out to my roommate for help.

Image courtesy of Wiki How

Standing outside the door, she calmly talked me through; “deep breaths, relax, fold it in half, squat, insert it like a tampon, and don’t stress if it doesn’t work the first go.” I followed her instructions to the T. Success! It was in, and unlike my first time inserting a tampon as a teenager, I couldn’t feel a thing. 

My New Best Friend

I was over the moon with my new cup! The comfort and ease were a hormonal ladies dream. The catastrophic moments I’d imagined never arrived. Insert, remove, empty, rinse, repeat! I was looking at my cup and asking “where have you been all my life?” I was in love and preaching my new life-hack to anyone who would listen. Since then, the romance has continued to blossom, and I haven’t looked back. 

If you’re still reading, but not yet convinced a menstrual cup is for you, read on. I guarantee you’ll be joining the cup cult by the end of this article!

Let’s Talk About The Benefits Of Switching To The Cup

Wallet-Friendly: Who doesn’t want to save cash? I’ve spent around $3,000 AUD on conventional sanitary products since entering womanhood! Say what?! My menstrual cup cost me $40 and will last two to three years

Reduce Your Eco Footprint: We’re not the only ones suffering from period pain. The earth takes a monthly beating along with our ovaries! We EACH throw away 125-150kg of pads, tampons, and applicators in our lifetime, generating over 200,000 tonnes of plastic-containing waste every year! 

Convenience: Depending on your flow, a cup can be left in for up to 12 hours, and with sanitary items in some countries hard to find or extremely expensive to purchase, cups are perfect for travel.

Vagina Friendly: Most menstrual cups are made from non-allergenic medical grade silicone. No nasty chemicals means no interference with your body’s natural environment. Tampons can dry out your vagina and cause irritation, and have even been linked to toxic shock syndrome

Potential Difficulties

I haven’t experienced any adverse side effects since switching to a menstrual cup, but these are some common hurdles reported by others:

Removal: Removal can be tricky at first, but with practice, you will master your technique. Pinching the base and then pulling works well. Empty the fluid into the toilet, rinse with clean water and reinsert. Carry water if you’re worried about the availability in public bathrooms. 

Incorrect fit: An ill-fitting cup can mean leakage and discomfort. Cups come in different sizes, depending on your age, birth history, and flow. Do your research first, ask the shop assistant for advice, and read the website thoroughly before investing in a menstrual cup. 

Insertion: If you don’t have a friend to coach you, read the instructions, watch a YouTube video, and, most importantly, RELAX! Don’t give up after your first attempt. It’s a new object going into a sensitive place, so be patient.  

Maintenance & Hygiene: After each cycle, your cup needs to be sterilised in boiling water–a small price to pay for peace of mind. We trust tampons and pads are hygienic before landing in our hands but do we really know who or what has touched them before being packaged? The same applies to a menstrual cup–make sure to sanitise it before your first use.

The best way to work out if a menstrual cup is right for you is to try one! Help out the earth and your wallet, enjoy the convenience, and foster a happier vagina! There are many different brands on the market, so do some research, chat with friends, or, if my experience convinced you, head here to check out the brand I use.