Warning: This blog contains some hard truths. If you were unaware before, women have uteruses. Uteruses bleed once a month. Women choose to use tampons, pads, or be like that kick-ass girl who ran a marathon WHILE ON HER PERIOD WITHOUT ANYTHING.
A Menstrual What?
Menstrual cup. Yup, it’s exactly what you think it is; a cup women can insert to hold their menses. And yes, we are really talking about this. Just as one would use a tampon or a pad to absorb the monthly flow, the menstrual cup holds the discharge until you remove and empty the cup. When I finally decided to try the cup, I one hundred and ten percent believed that the cup would not work. I’m all about that zero waste life, but experimenting with my time of the month is a no go. I never thought I would actually prefer the menstrual cup to a tampon or pad. I never thought I would be helping my roommate decide which brand to buy. I definitely never thought I would publically announce via blog my experiences, but here I am. My mom must be so proud.
I definitely am not the menstrual master or adventurous by any means. I refused to use tampons until senior year of high school. But I am stubborn, so when my roommates bet I couldn’t do it, I found myself purchasing a menstrual cup from Amazon. I had plenty of reservations and questions.
Does one size fit all? Yes and no. Think of it as buying one super tampon that you reuse. You don’t buy custom tampons. The only sizes you need to worry about is 1 or 2. Did you have a baby? Use a 2. Are you still being pestered by your mother about having kids? Use a 1. You are not buying a cup for the amount of flow. The menstrual cup companies made these sizes assuming the worst. So you’re always covered.
Yeah, but I’m special. Nope. A common myth people believe is that vagina sizes vary significantly, but, as most myths, that would be false. The only time anything changes is when you have a baby, and for those people there is a size 2.
How do you clean it? This was my concern: germs, infections, and other things ain’t nobody got time for. The cup is completely sanitary. Before using your new cup, wash the cup with soap and water. Then, you place it in boiling water for 5 minutes. Every time you remove the cup, rinse the cup in water. After each menstrual cycle, boil the menstrual cup for 5 minutes then place the cup in a cute tote for ready use the next time you have your period.
How often do you change it? Up to 10 – 12 hours. No need to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome (something I have an irrational fear of) because the menstrual cup is made from safe medical plastic. The best part is, after you empty and rinse the cup, you put it back! Wake up, clean menstrual cup, reinsert menstrual cup, go. Clean menstrual cup, reinsert menstrual cup, sleep. Eat. Sleep. Menstrual Cup. Here are examples of when you can use the menstrual cup:
- Back packing
Could you leak? Nope. Sometimes you’ll need to change it out more frequently when you have a heavier flow, JUST AS YOU WOULD WITH A TAMPON OR PAD. Except for tossing after use, you clean and reuse.
I have a heavy flow. I feel you. I tend to have a heavier flow, and by heavier I mean my uterus would save more lives than the Red Cross. Why I love this cup so much is because it seals, which means no leaks. This cup actually works better than a tampon or pad. I WORE WHITE PANTS WHILE ON MY PERIOD. The women in the tampon commercials got nothing on me.
- How much? $20 – 40.
Yeahhh…no. That’s way out of my budget.
I thought this blog was supposed to be about sustainability? Right. Using the cup is sustainable. Your used feminine care products do not just disappear. They spend the next hundreds of years just chilling at a landfill just like the rest of your trash. Now, think about all the times you have your period. Think of all those pads piling up. What only was a part of your life for 6 hours is now part of the landfill for hundreds of years. One pad isn’t so bad, so you don’t feel guilty tossing one. It’s easy to forget about your trash once you toss it, but think of all the pads that you will toss in your lifetime, in your mother’s lifetime, in your roommate’s lifetime, in your children’s lifetime. Think of that super pack of tampons you just bought; that’s future landfill. Think of all the super pack of tampons that all the people at the College of Charleston bought. Landfill. Think of all the …. you get the point. (Learn more about sustainable cycles here)
I’ll admit, using a menstrual cup is a small step for all the world needs to do to be sustainable. You’re probably thinking what’s the point, but you’re thinking of this all the wrong way. You’re over achieving. Think about the impact in your life, the amount of waste YOU will reduce. As a wise wrinkly man once said, “be the change you want to see in your local landfill.” Or something like that. I’m a science major, not a historian.
This post was written by an intern at the Office of Sustainability