Coming on. Shark week. Riding the crimson wave. Whatever you want to call it (period, I just call it my period), menstruating is a pain in the butt. From spontaneous crying to clutching hot water bottles to our wombs there’s no getting away from the fact that being a woman is hard. Or at least it is once a month (more if you’re like me and seem to just bleed at random). Without sounding too much like a cliché, I am here to make your live easier. That’s right.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of menstrual cups. No? Well, let me tell you; they’re little silicon cups that you can insert inside your vagina to catch your period. It’s a rinse and re-use situation, which means you no longer have to spend money on tampons or sanitary towels and let’s face it, it’s just better for the environment. According to the Journal of the Institution of Environmental Health 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed in the UK every day. Meaning they end up in our sewage system. And, they’re made of mostly plastic, meaning those guys don’t break down. I don’t even want to think of all the used sanitary products floating around. Grim.
I’ve been using my cup for about four months now and I’m not going to lie to you, it’s changed my world. My first month with it took a bit of getting used to. The average woman loses less than 16 teaspoons of blood per period, which is very little but my goodness the first time emptying it was a bit of a shock. Oh and getting them in there; they’re a bit like tampons when it comes to figuring out how to insert them, but there’s YouTube tutorials (isn’t there for everything!) on how to bend them for the best insertion method. It’s really about what works best for you though. They come in different sizes so it might be a case of trial and error to find the right size for your shape and your flow. I can wear mine all night without leaking, empty, rinse and reuse in the morning and not have to worry about it until I’m back home from work in the comfort of my own home.
The little cups have a tail to hold on to in order to remove it and in the first month I could feel it inside me. My friend told me that she’d had the same issue so had trimmed hers. So I did the same thing, trimmed the tail a little ensuring I left enough to still be able to hold on to it for removal and since then it’s been perfect.
I had two main concerns when trialing the cup; dealing with it when I’m out and about and going to the gym with it. So, first things first. No one wants to see you rinsing your menstrual cup at the sinks in a public toilet, right? I have emptied and rinsed mine at work by simply going to the disabled/gender neutral toilet at work because there is a sink in there. If you are caught short when you’re out and need to change it, you can always carry a bottle of water to rinse it over the toilet. Also, not going to lie, but we’ve all had to hide tampons up our sleeves or in our waistbands on the way to the toilet so that nobody sees that we’re on our period (yeah, yeah we shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed, but I’m not there yet). With menstrual cups, you don’t have to take anything to the toilet with you. Just yourself and the cup that, technically, you’re already hiding…
On to my second concern; going to the gym with the cup. Okay, so my first gym session that week I bottled it and used a tampon. The second trip I grew some girl balls and kept it in. I had nothing to be concerned about, it was absolutely fine. I didn’t feel it, it didn’t move and changing in the changing rooms I felt cleaner and happier without the telltale string showing. Last month, while warming up on the treadmill, I obviously hadn’t inserted it right and something moved. I could feel it. It was a bit uncomfortable, okay, quite a bit uncomfortable, so I had to stop the treadmill and nip to the toilet to maneuver it back into position. After that it was totally fine and it held in place.
I can’t rave about them enough, honestly. You don’t need to worry about buying tampons or sanitary towels. They last longer and leak less. They’re reusable so better for the environment. You can use them at any stage of your period, they deal just as well with the heavy flow as they do with the end, you know when you’re not sure if you’re actually even still on? So you can stop being pissed off about the tampon tax, we now have an alternative and it’s so much better. Okay, you can still be pissed off, menstruating still isn’t a luxury, but that’s another post for another day…