Surfing the crimson wave. That time of the month. Aunt Flo is visiting. The curse. Shark Week. Monthlies. Girl flu. Periods. Whatever you call it, we all know what you’re talking about.
Menstruation is something most women have to deal with and I’m writing about it today because I’m coming up to a special anniversary. I’m just a few days off a whole year of no tampons and no pads.
You see, just over a year ago, I got my first post-partum period after more than a year of period-free bliss. I can’t say I enjoyed it, that first period after so long without. What I also didn’t enjoy was the outlay of cash on pads and tampons. I never really got over the government’s continued decision to make them a luxury item subject to GST, so every packet I bought inevitably made me grumpy. I wasn’t a big fan of disposing of them when I was done with them, either. I chatted to a few mama friends who’d been there, done that and decided enough was enough. I would not purchase another tampon. I would not deal with another winged pad.
I bought a menstrual cup.
My life changed then and there. The freedom!
There seems to be a lot of disgust mixed with curiosity at the thought of the cup so first off, a little on the FAQ:
Is it easy to use?
Yes, once you’re used to it. There is a litle bit of a learning curve but once you figure out the best way for you to insert it, you’re on easy street.
Does it hurt?
Nope. If it hurts, it’s either the wrong size (generally, there are 2 sizes- one for under 30’s who have not had a baby and one for over 30’s who may or may not have had a baby) or it’s not in correctly (like, sideways or something)
Can you get Toxic Shock Syndrome from a cup?
Nope. Thus far there have been no cases of TSS associated with cups.
How do you clean it when out?
Well, I rarely do, because it can be left in situ for up to 12 hours. But if you need to, you can empty and wipe with tissue or a wet wipe before re-inserting which is handy if you don’t have access to a private sink for washing out.
Is it messy?
In my experience- no, not really. Maybe slightly messier than a tampon on a heavy day.
I can barely contain my enthusiasm for these things; I’m not even joking. So far, I have converted at least 4 girlfriends. My friend Yasmine had this to say:
“The menstrual cup has changed my life! I wish it was socially acceptable to whip my cup out of my purse at every opportunity to tell every woman that I meet how fabulous menstruating can be!”
Luckily, I’m not overly concerned about it being socially acceptable. So I’m writing this post to tell you- it’s fabulous. Why? Here’s a list:
- It’s cheap. You might outlay $50-$60 but a good cup can last you up to a DECADE.
- A freakin’ DECADE. I’m in my 30’s. I’ll only have to buy 2 or 3 more EVER! Unless, you know, I want a different colour!
- They are much better for the environment- no more monthly contributions to landfill! These really are a sustainable choice!
- They are better for you. There is no risk of TSS, they don’t dry out your lady bits like tampons do (something which can lead to friction, abrasions and even infection) and you aren’t exposing your business to the bleached fibres of rayon and cotton that most tampons are made from.
- You can put your cup in place on the day you expect your period, just in case.
- When in use, you can leave it in for up to 12 hours, meaning you only need to deal with it a couple of times a day.
- Much like tampons, once it’s in place you can’t feel it.
- Did I mention that you can get up to 10 YEARS out of one?? That’s approximately 120 periods. I worked out my average spend on sanitary items and it was around $9.60 per period. That’s $115.20 per year. Over ten years, assuming the prices of pads and tampons never change (unlikely) that’s a spend of $1152. See how much you could save?
This video is well worth a watch if you’re thinking of getting a cup!
So, just when I thought menstrual cups couldn’t get any better, my husband found this article and sent it to me and just like that, I was proven wrong.
Menstrual cups are fabulous for me- a woman in a developed nation with access to all kinds of sanitary items and hygiene measures. It certainly makes one examine one’s own privilege to read about how women in East Africa and other developing nations experience menstruation- it is a financial burden that many, many women struggle with. There are serious hygiene concerns when women cannot afford sanitary products and must resort to using leaves, mud, newspaper etc. It broke my heart to learn that many rural Kenyan girls miss anywhere from a day to up to a whole week of school per month because of menstruation related issues.
This problem has such a simple solution- the humble menstrual cup!
Femme International is a Canada-based charity and is the only organisation that is promoting menstrual cups as a sustainable solution for menstruation management in developing countries. Their focus is on female education and empowerment. You can actually donate sustainable menstrual products via their website here.
So while I will happily tell you that the cup changed my life and that I hope you get one and it changes yours too (oh, erm, if you have a vagina, that is, and aren’t one of my 2 male readers) it could also really, REALLY change someone else’s!
Am I preaching to the converted? Or not your thing?
What do you think?