Obviously, from the title this post is about my period so if this type of conversation makes you squeamish feel free to exit this blog post! (Or maybe that means you should read this..)
In zero wasteland in zero waste world, there are many people that menstruate within it. And thus, as ask ourselves “How can we have a zero waste period?” Should we be bound to disposing of pads or tampons (and their applicators) each month? Since in this post title I talk about menstrual cups, clearly, the answer is no. But let’s talk about it.
Although I have known about cups and cloth pads for a while (since in my opinion getting into menstrual cups is how my best friend Maria started her zero waste journey) it’s taken me until now to make the switch. So, why? Personally, I have extremely light and inconsistent flow, I don’t really need anything during my period except a cleanup. Sometimes there’s a little more which goes onto my undies, but then I just wash them and move on. If I needed a tampon I would just take from my house stash or ask a friend while I was on campus. I’m also broke as hell so I didn’t have the forty dollars on hand to just drop on a cup that may or may not be right for me.
Thankfully, Maria had an extra she never used and ended up giving it to me just in time for Aunt Flow to show up with some actual flow, deeming the cup both useful and necessary.
I can now see why the hype is so high behind menstrual cups after using one myself. I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable or different than normal, and I didn’t have to think about it as much as a tampon. You can keep them in for up to 12 hours, and don’t need to be washed every time you use the bathroom. Although the same is true for a tampon, I always ended up switching it because the string would get wet or the cotton would get wet, or uncomfortable because it moved while I was sitting and doing business. Honestly, I just always accepted these things and didn’t think much of it, but I also didn’t really think about an alternative to these problems.
I am not going to sit here and preach about menstrual cups. There’s a lot of literature on them and other people who have written about their experiences too. I invite you, if you are thinking of making the switch yourself, to go on Put A Cup In It ‘s website. They have a lot of information on cups and reusable options- and they also have a BuzzFeed style quiz so you can find out which cup would be a good fit for you if you are unsure of where to start.
Some things I wish I knew about menstrual cups:
The first time you put it in, you may need to reinsert. I figured it wouldn’t be easy, and since I’m on the go- the first part of the first day of my period in this cycle I still used a tampon. Once I had time, I sat down and attempted to insert it, but it took about 20 minutes of me futzing with it to get it to go in right. To insert, there are different folds you can try. I ended up preferring the c-fold because it had the most success to not open prematurely, but it took some time to get everything in place. (if that sounds like jibberish read more about folding a cup here) And the first two days of using it, it was kind of an event to get it back in. Thankfully you don’t need to insert it often, and it got easier after the third day. I will give a disclaimer that I was never really one to understand my body well, and when I first saw tampons I thought they were just cloth that was rolled up like extra wipes so maybe I’m not the best person to give advice on menstrual cups… But hey, that means if I can do it anyone can!
I was asked by a friend if menstrual cups were messy. I actually think they are a lot cleaner than tampons and obviously pads. Everything gets contained in the cup, which you simply dump into the toilet. Since my flow is light and I didn’t change it much the blood was older and thus stuck more, but I just helped it along with some toilet paper. After you clean the cup there isn’t any mess on your body or your underwear. Personally, when I would use tampons sometimes I would have a mess on my hands, but I actually think I may get rid of all of my stained undies now since apparently, I will never need to worry about it again!
I have the Lena Cup. It’s supposed to be a little bit more firm than the Lunette cup, which is very popular. There are so many cups on the market now, so it may take some trial and error to find one that completely works for you, but I personally didn’t experience any problems with this one. Finding less popular cups (as long as they are FDA approved etc) may also be cheaper! So keep an open mind. Also, the cup comes with its own cotton bag, which is cute and makes it easy to just stick in your purse or backpack on the go!
Lastly, be prepared to get to know your vagina very well. Although the conversation is opening up, periods and the women anatomy is still a very taboo subject. Not only did I not personally talk about my period ever, I did not take the time to understand my body on my own time. You get very close and personal in order to insert and take out your cup. At the end of the day, it’s your own body and there is nothing to be ashamed of!
Overall, I’m extremely happy with the switch and will probably never go back to tampons or disposables! If you are looking for more freedom during your period and also an environmentally conscious option to your periods, look no further than cups!