Thursday, 23 October 2014

*Warning: Too Much Information is an understatement* Menstrual Cups

We also all agree that periods are awful? (If you answered 'no' to that question, go away, we can no longer be friends) This is going to be a post about periods, I haven't written it yet so can't vouch for how graphic I'll get, but the phrases "torrents of blood" and "painful vagina" are likely to come up. Continue at your own discretion.

Tampons and chocolate

So... Periods. Painful, little bit gross, completely unfair. As if sexism wasn't bad enough, we could at least do without our own bodies revolting on us for a quarter of our lives between the ages of 13 and 52.

The generally accepted necessities are pads and/or tampons (as well as painkillers, caffeine, chocolate, an exclusion zone for other people, stain removal detergent, new knickers, iron supplements, extra sleep, etc) but they aren't perfect.

Pads, you end up walking around with a squishy puddle of blood inside your pants. Those wrap around wings are always touch and go, have a particularly drawn out month and you'll start to rub the skin at the top of your thighs raw. I don't need to go into the issues of overnight pads do I? we can all agree they're just uncomfortable and despite being the approximate size and shape of a memory foam pillow never quite right.

Tampons. The string. I've never liked the string. I'm sure it's unhygienic, I can't see how it's not. Also the whole toxic shock syndrome risk just makes me very unhappy. I know it is a rare condition but I know two friends who rushed to hospital with it, one of them went into cardiac arrest and very nearly died. Tampons are essentially sponges and they don't discriminate in what they absorb, this is a problem because the walls of your vagina are made of a mucus membrane that constantly secretes fluid to maintain itself, tampons absorb that and mess things up. This can lead to your pH levels being off and can contribute to developing infections like thrush. Plus, there are times when your flow isn't as heavy as the tampon is designed to handle and when it's time to pull it out you end up performing some internal sandpapering. Those of you feeling queasy, I did warn you.

There are environmental impacts of them, we all agree that littering is bad, yes? We are pro-polar bear survival? If we actually stop and think about it we do care about what future generations will think about us leaving them man made mountains of rubbish that aren't going anywhere? Pads and tampons go into landfills, they're not great at biodegrading.

But honestly, whatever. Pads and tampons are not SUVs, and there's enough period shame about with someone trying to tell me that women should stop complaining about their periods and think of the rainforests. Plus, what are the alternatives? Just bleed over everything until it's over? Join a hippy commune?
They can also contain 3 times as much blue liquid as a regular tampon. Source.
When I first heard of menstrual cups I was a bit grossed out. Okay, so they're easily cleanable silicone that I can sterilise as often as I wish, but they're still essentially a small bucket to catch everything that I have to put up and pull out of myself. Yuck.

They do cost more initally, £22 from Boots at time of writing. But if you have to buy a box of tampons a month for a year then you're one of the lucky ones. I need at least two to deal with the fact some days there are torrents of blood and some days tsunamis. Okay so everywhere has own brand versions but they are cheap and nasty to use with a tendency to shed bits of fluff in places I don't want to be fluffy. So that leaves us with the name brands. Normally, yes, there is some kind of offer on, right now you can get 2 packs of Tampax for £5.


Sixty pounds to deal with something natural, that directly affects half the human race, that we pay 20% tax on? And that's just for one year! There is a man (yes, definitley a man) lying in a swimming pool of money somewhere and laughing.

So, menstrual cups. I use a Mooncup, because it's what Boots stock and therefore was the most easily available. They have two sizes, one for if you're young and have never delivered a baby, another that's ever so slightly wider for if you haven't kept up with your kegals.

It looks like an egg cup with a tail. You can trim the tail to whatever is most comfortable for you, but I would advise waiting a few days, as you move the cup will change position. Give it a chance to find it's resting spot, and find out what you need to pull it out. Personally, I trimmed mine too short and sometimes there's a few undignified and panicked minutes of trying to get at it. (See, told you there'd be too much information)
Helpful illustrations from dismembered hands. Source.
You fold it up, insert it, and forget about it for 12 hours. When you empty it just tip the contents down the toilet, rinse the cup under the tap and repeat step one. Running it under warm water I find makes insertion more comfortable, as does remembering to relax.

Mooncups are great, once you get used to them you can't understand why they aren't used by everyone. I've even found I get less cramps using them, though your milage may vary.

If you've got this far I'm guessing you haven't clicked away in squeamish horror or run to the bathroom to vomit, have you ever considered an alternative to pads and tampons? Will you now? Or is this just really icky and you wish I'd never started typing?

Joy xx
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  1. I'd heard of these but never considered one- mostly because I thought they lasted for much less than 12 hours before they needed emptying; and I had awful visions of trying to wash it in the loos at work. Tampon strings are definitely unhygienic, but I'd take them over pads any day. Although I might look into a mooncup now instead. xxx

  2. I've been considering switching to cups for quite awhile. I think I'd still have tampons for when I'm out for a long period of time though, just because I wouldn't want to change it and accidentally spill blood on my pants. The guy in a bathtub of money laughing was just such a fun visual!

    Kindness is the best accessory,

  3. I've heard about these, not too sure if I would use them, as it all seems very complicated.

  4. Always been intrigued by these but have never had the guts to go out and buy one! Also, internal sandpapering - just pretty much sums up tampons for me hahah. Actually laughed out loud reading that.