Over the last few months, we have decided to make a few changes to the way we live, and one of those changes has been slowly replacing our disposable products with reusable versions. The amount of waste we produce is becoming a huge problem for our planet. While switching to reusable sanitary products doesn’t seem like a huge step, the average person uses over 9000 tampons in their lifetime. That is a LOT of tampons. Tampons are virtually indestructible too, they have to be to sit in your vagina for hours. They are made out of cotton type material and as such aren’t biodegradable and cannot be flushed down the toilet. In fact, lots are flushed as over 41% of women don’t know this (and I am sad to say until recently, I was one of them)
The other issue with tampons is that they are classed as a medical device, which means no labelling required for ingredients (and lots of chemicals are used in the bleaching process) and they carry a very real risk of TSS.
How to Have An Eco Friendly Period – With A Menstrual Cup
I remember seeing a photograph of mooncup a few years ago, and I vaguely remember tilting my head on one side while thinking “You want me to do WHAT with that? Absolutely not, nuh-uh, no way!” If you were thinking the same thing, keep reading! In the last few months, I decided that it was worth a shot, and I am really glad I did!
Yes, they look huge!
The first thing you will notice is the size, and I’ve photographed here beside a regular tampon for comparison. I feel I need to say that I have really small hands, but it is much bigger than a tampon.
Yes, the cup does sit inside your vagina.
But its actually much, much more comfortable than it looks. You fold it up to insert and it opens up back into shape to form a seal inside the vagina. I was really dubious as I could even feel the Mirena coil I had for contraception, so I definitely expected to be able to feel the cup when walking and moving around. I couldn’t feel it. I even tried various squats and burpees and still nothing, it’s definitely a winner for exercise during your period. I’ve read it can take a few periods to get the hang of inserting and removing, but I found it quite straightforward.
(Time for TMI, sorry!) I suffer from menorrhagia, or (or super heavy periods) and often have to double up with both tampons and pads, and STILL leak through both less than two hours later. I find tampons really uncomfortable when they are full. Tampons are also uncomfortable at the end of your period when the flow slows down, wearing a dry tampon is uncomfortable and pulling out a dry tampon is just AWFUL! The cup felt the same throughout my period, no discomfort at all.
Yes, it does get messy.
I found it really easy, but a little messy to empty. You pull the stem of the cup downwards to break the seal, and you can empty the cup into the toilet. This is the messy bit… at home, you can rinse and reinsert. In a public bathroom, it’s much more tricky! Some people just empty, fold and reinsert, and some clean down with a tissue, or carry bottled water. In a disposable world we don’t really get very close to our own bodies, tampons with inserts mean we hardly have to touch at all. Using the cup is a little more hands-on, but if you have used tampons without inserts, you will be fine.
Menstrual cups can hold up to 3x as much as a tampon.
Which means you don’t need to change quite as often, most people say they only need to change in the morning and evening. With heavy periods, I still found myself changing a few times throughout the day, but I definitely needed fewer changes on a night. With the less frequent changes, and being more comfortable, it definitely helped me get a better nights sleep.
Because the fluid doesn’t get exposed to air like with tampons and pads, there is no embarrassing odour to worry about.
Better for your body.
Menstrual cups carry a much lower risk of TSS than tampons, in fact, only 1 TSS death has been linked to menstrual cups so far. Tampons also soak up all other fluids and good bacteria, which might upset the delicate PH balance of your vagina.
A huge money saving compared to disposable products.
As well as being better for the environment, and your body, using a cup will save you money. The average cost of a cup is £20, and will last 10 years or longer. If you change a tampon every 4-8 hours, you will use on average 5 per day. If your period lasts 4 days that’s 20 tampons. A box of twenty tampons costs on average £2, so it works out at around £24 per year. Even if you decided to replace your menstrual cup every year, you would still make a saving.
The disadvantage I have found the cup, is that they need sterilising after each period. Which is a bit of a faff, and means it sitting in a jar on my worktop, and leaving myself open to lots of questions from inquisitive children. I answered honestly, I think honesty is the best policy!
Would you consider using reusable menstrual products?