Why I switched to menstrual cups (and you should too)
By Isabelle Bennett, Features Editor
There are several products that I’d consider revolutionary — the wheel, for instance. The inventors of AirDrop, Instant Pot and PopCorners Carnival Kettle Corn Chips are also highly regarded in my books for having marketed their genius ideas. I’m pretty sure I could meet a word count with any one of those inventions as my topic, but in my efforts to facilitate a greater good I’ve chosen to focus it around another life-changer: the menstrual cup.
As the name suggests, menstrual cups are a feminine hygiene product that can be used instead of pads or tampons. Basically, they’re small, flexible cups that get inserted into the vagina to collect blood during an individual’s period. After they’re worn for a number of hours, they can simply be removed with the help of the little stem, emptied and used again and again and again.
I was quick to hop on the bandwagon as soon as I heard about it, but I realize there may be some folks out there who require some extra prodding. If that’s you, this is your cue. Here are a few reasons why:
1. I owed it to mother nature.
According to Glamour Magazine, traditional plastic tampon cartridges take a hot 500 years to decompose, and about 10 billion of them are discarded every month worldwide. Pads take even longer. If you would like to know about your contribution to the landfills and oceans, take this quiz on Intimina. I’m not intending to shame a sister for creating some waste during what is, for many, an already agonizing time of the month, but I do think it’s important for humans to be conscious of their environmental footprints and consider ways they can reduce it. Menstrual cups are an awesome, zero-waste way to get through a period, and reusable pads like these or period underwear like these are another great option (just beware of the laundry).
2. I wanted to save buttloads of money.
Pads and tampon costs add up quickly when periods reoccur every month for days at a time. I didn’t crunch any numbers, but Huffington Post did in this article where they confirmed that Aunt Flo is a high-need lady with champagne taste. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, must be purchased once and can last for up to ten years with proper care, meaning they’re cleaned properly with warm water and a gentle soap. Soaps specially designed for cups are available, but not required. Here are some more tips for how to care for your menstrual cup so that it’s safe to use.
3. It’s discrete.
When playing the tampon/pad game, there are a few challenges someone might encounter when dealing with their period. There shouldn’t be any shame around it (the fact that human bodies are capable of growing other humans inside them is freaking amazeballs) but I understand that not everyone is comfortable letting the world know about their monthly business.
Anyone who has been through the agony of opening a pad wrapper only for it to crunch like cellophane, or the scarring moment of drying off after a day at the pool only to find the string of your tampon had been sneaking out the side the whole time. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, are ninjas when it comes to keeping blood at bay and don’t even cause an underwear line. Heck, I think you could get away with going commando with one of those things inside (not endorsing it, just saying).
4. It’s convenient.
One of the best things about menstrual cups is how much blood they’re capable of holding, meaning that they don’t need to be emptied and replaced very often — many brands say they’ll hold up for 12 hours. This means it’s very possible that cup users won’t have to empty the cup while their out and about at all, which is good because, although it’s a decently quiet process, it can leave someone looking like they killed a man until they wash their hands. If you do need to deal with it in public, consider bringing wipes like these for cleaning your cup (toilet paper can also be used) and some hand sanitizer.
5. It’s the best product to get the job done.
It can be discouraging as heck to find blood on your sheets and 27 articles of clothing month after month, and even more dreadful (though, again, not shameful — read this if you require some empowerment) to have incidents occur in public. Unfortunately, these are side effects that aren’t as easy to avoid as that girl in the tampon commercial who entered a limbo contest wearing white pants makes it look. But I am pretty sure the reason there’s so much hype around menstrual cups is because so many people (myself included) have found they’re the most effective in doing their job. I’ll acknowledge that there can be a learning curve and it may take someone a few cycles to get it in and out comfortably (or at all), with a little practice it’s so great to have for all the reasons listed.
If you want to try a menstrual cup, take this quiz to find out which one is the best fit for you.