I remember seeing ads for the Diva Cup many years ago and thinking “that’s disgusting, I would never use that.” And now, I truly can’t imagine my period without a menstrual cup. Yeah, it is actually that life changing and I can’t wait to share this review with you. As someone who is many times late to adapt to new things (Am I the last person to get an Instant Pot?), this also holds true for the menstrual cup. To say I was nervous to try it would be a HUGE understatement, but I am sooooo glad I did it. Read on to hear my full and honest review after using a menstrual cup and why I made the switch.
Menstrual Cup: What exactly is it?
A menstrual cup is exactly what it sounds like, a silicone cup that is inserted into your vagina to hold the blood from your period. Unlike tampons or pads, a menstrual cup doesn’t absorb liquid, it holds it in the cup which is then emptied into the toilet and then washed and reinserted.
Why On Earth Would You Want to Use One?
I know, I know, if you’re anything like me, you may be thinking why would you want to use this when you can so easily use a tampon and flush it or throw it away after. Well, I’ve got lots of reasons to make the switch which are coming up later, but first I want to discuss some of the issues with using conventional tampons and pads.
The Problem With Tampons and Pads:
One of the first issues I personally experienced with tampons is leaving them in too long. Sometimes, I just forgot that it was in there and left it in too long. I was concerned with TSS (toxic shock syndrome) because of this and very much wanted to switch to something safer. There have been times in the past where I forgot I had a tampon in and slept with it, to say I was freaking out in the morning is an understatement. I would rather not deal with the anxiety and worries about leaving a tampon in too long.
Beyond this, there are a lot of other issues with using tampons and pads which I discuss further down below.
The Materials Used in Conventional Products:
The second issue with conventional tampons and pads is that it is made with non-organic cotton. Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed and genetically modified crops. Having that near or up your vagina is dangerous as it is able to pass directly into your bloodstream. The other issue with conventional tampons and pads is that they are bleached with chlorine which leads to a toxic byproduct called dioxin, this has been linked to cancer (as it’s a known carcinogen) and endometriosis. Although the amount of dioxin is low and research has not been able to show that this would negatively affect your health, it also does not take into account the cumulative effect of using them over your lifetime. A lifetime of using these products surely amounts to more than just a small amount and definitely raises a red flag in my opinion. Dioxin exposure also acts as an endocrine disruptor meaning that it could cause hormonal issues as well.
Beyond dioxin as an issue, conventional tampons and pads may use phthalates, rayon and other synthetic absorbers that pose further health risks. Not to mention if you are using a product that also contains fragrance as this can include a number of harmful ingredients that don’t need to be disclosed. Not to mention that this can also cause irritation and allergies.
Overall, even if you don’t want to make the switch to a menstrual cup, I would advise to buy organic tampons and pads. This is what I used for years and definitely recommend this brand.
Menstrual Cup: Why I made the Switch
It made sense environmentally: I have been thinking so much about my impact on this earth and how I can do my part to leave it a better place. I know that my impact may be small, but if I can make a change and it positively impacts the environment then I am going to do that. Yes, we need changes in the form of policies from our government, but true change starts with us- regular people too. I think sometimes we forget how much we can make a difference. So, I wanted to do my small part and eliminate the waste from tampons and pads. Even though I was using an organic company and the applicator is not plastic, it is still creating quite a bit of waste over my lifetime. And when I think about how much waste comes from using plastic tampon applicators and cotton pads I know that switching to a menstrual cup was the right decision for me.
It’s estimated that, every year, over 45 billion products related to periods, including tampons, pads and applicators, are thrown in the garbage. And tampons make up a large part of that weight. The Ocean Conservancy collected 27,938 used tampons and applicators on beaches around the world in a single day in 2015. Tampons themselves, because they’ve been used to capture human waste, are not recyclable, and despite being told not to, many of us flush them away, where they’re likely to end up in sewer systems and in waterways
It saves me money: Let’s do some simple math, a menstrual cup costs on average $39.99 and this can last for years, let’s say three years. Organic tampons cost on average $7.00/box per month which is $252.00 for three years. That’s a savings of $212.00. When it comes to saving money with a menstrual cup there is no doubt at all. You will save money, period. Plus, I was being conservative with how long a menstrual cup can last as I have heard it can last a lot longer. And many women end up buying more than 1 box a month of tampons depending on their flow.
Convenience: The best thing about switching to a menstrual cup is that I only need to take it out twice per day. It’s so much more convenient than having to bring tampons out with me wherever I go and worry about when I am out if I forgot to bring one, because we’ve all been there. I take it out in the morning (after sleeping with it in- another bonus), dump it, clean it and put it back in. Then in the evening before bed I do the same thing. I can wear it longer than tampons or pads and sleep with it and that is a big deal.
No surprises: Another great thing about the menstrual cup is not having any unwelcome surprises because that is THE WORST. So if you know you are getting your period, you can put it in before you are due and not have to worry about any surprises.
It made me appreciate my body: I used to be the girl that had no idea what was going on her own body and didn’t really understand how my period even worked. Using a menstrual cup has changed that. It made me appreciate things rather than just think how gross and annoying getting your period can be. I can actually see the amount of blood, the colour of it and know what it means. Because all of those things are indicators of your overall health too. Your body is not shameful or disgusting no matter what society tries to tell you and switching to a menstrual cup actually really helped me recognize that.
Tips on using a menstrual cup:
My tips are to first off, relax. If you’re nervous and tense it is going to be a lot harder to get the cup in. It won’t get stuck up there, so don’t worry about that either. To be honest, I found getting it in pretty easy and kinda crazy how it gets sucked up in there, for lack of a better way of saying it lol. In order to get it in, you can fold it in half just like I did in the picture below. I would suggest watching videos from Diva Cup to see exactly how to fold it.
When you want to remove your menstrual cup, I find it easiest to do so sitting down on the toilet and using your pelvic floor muscles to push a little so that you can grab the tip and pull it down. Always make sure you are washing your hands before and after and using a gentle soap to wash the menstrual cup out with in between uses during your period.
Just be gentle with yourself when you are first starting to use it. It takes some practice to get it right. I mean remember the first time you tried to insert a tampon?! Ugh. That shit was hard AF for me. Once it is in, you shouldn’t be able to feel it at all, if you do, then it isn’t in correctly.
When your period is over, I recommend sterilizing it in boiling water on the stove in a pot.
I am Not here To Pressure or Convert You:
So who isn’t a menstrual cup for? If you’re squeamish about your body, your bodily fluids or blood then this probably isn’t for you and thats ok. I am not here to pressure any woman into using a menstrual cup or not. I just know that for so long I didn’t think I would ever use one that it was too hippy and out there for me and now I am completely converted. If you want to give it a chance then do it, you truly don’t have anything to be scared of at all.
If you don’t want to make the switch to a menstrual cup that is fine. I would urge you to at least try and switch to organic tampons or pads as they are better for your health and the planet.
I would love to know if you have any questions about using a menstrual cup, or if you use one and love it, share it below in the comments!