You clicked on this because either a) you’ve never heard of one before or b) you think it’s gross but you’ve thought about it maybe once or twice. I’m here to tell you that it’s not all that bad! I highly recommend using one if you’re a human who has periods but enjoys traveling and camping for long periods of time. But of course, please read on to see me justify my point.
I’ve thought about using one for a long time and the idea hadn’t really hit me until a few weeks ago, one of my coworkers, Bonnie, mentioned that she’s been using one for years.
Me: “So who would you recommend a menstrual cup, and why?”
Bonnie: “I would recommend it to any woman! But particularly one who has had a period for a while because for first timers I think it would be really intimidating. They make different sizes for different flows so anyone can use them! They save you so much money, trips to the bathroom, and you can sleep in them! They are much better for your body than tampons which have mystery chemicals in them and they delete the risk for TSS.”
Me: “How has using a menstrual cup impacted your daily life?”
Bonnie: “It has impacted my life by erasing my fear of running out of tampons when I need one and the inconvenience of having to be by a bathroom every 4 hours to change one. I’m a dancer who does a lot of teaching and traveling and it is incredibly easy to pack and not worry about all day while using it! I recommend to all my friends!”
She got me convinced.
So I ordered one off of Amazon: the Lena cup. There are different brands, but they all do the same job. Comfortability levels may be different, but Bonnie recommended the Lena cup.
It looks like this, but purple:
I finally got the chance to try it out and lemme tell you, it was an experience.
I opened up the package and read the directions, which seemed fairly simple: wash your hands with soap and water, fold the cup in a certain shape, push it up there until the cup opens and then adjust it by twisting it in there.
You really have to get comfortable with your own body. You have to be able to stick your fingers up your vagina and be okay with it because it’s what this entire process is. It’s completely unavoidable. Truth be told, I was a little uncomfortable at first; I mean, typically, using a tampon, you just insert the thing and then you throw the damn plastic away. But honestly, after the first few times, you kinda get the hang of the whole thing.
But I ran into some problems (that I resolved!). It was leaking. Good thing I always think ahead and was wearing some underwear liners. It was the second day of my period and I was at school and I had no idea what to do to stop it from leaking. A friend of mine, Veronica, volunteered to step inside a unisex bathroom with me to talk me through adjusting it.
Veronica confirmed what I suspected as the culprit: you have to really twist the thing in there to ensure there are no spaces that can cause the blood to leak around the cup. After that, there was no leakage at all for the next two days of my period.
It really takes a kind of patience with yourself and your own body to be able to use a menstrual cup. That being said, I hope it doesn’t steer you away from using one. The benefits of using a menstrual cup outweigh the benefits of using any other alternatives. For example, with a menstrual cup, you only have to change it once a year. According to the DivaCup’s FAQ: “a general guideline is to replace it once a year, but ultimately, it is up to the consumer to decide when it is necessary to replace the cup.” As opposed to buying a pack of tampons for $8.00 + tax every month, I’d say it’s a win.
Moreover, if you’re an outdoor chick who likes to spend weeks in nature, using a menstrual cup can relieve your backpack of a little bit of weight. Every ounce counts and between bringing one menstrual cup and several pads or tampons, the former seems like a more comfortable choice. Disposing tampons and pads becomes a thing of the past because with a cup, you get to just rinse it out with water and insert it back in.
Let’s also mention the fact that your carbon footprint will go down a little every month because you won’t be throwing away those things anymore.
So overall, a 9 out of 10 experience. It’ll take me a couple more period cycles to fully get used to it, but I’m committed to this cause for sustainability and stopping companies from exploiting my natural processes for the sake of capitalism every month. Period.
Thanks to Bonnie, Maddy, and Veronica for helping me through this week!