For those that have been following me on Instagram for a while, you may have seen the discussion I led on menstrual cups back in June. I had an influx of messages from women who had been really keen to switch to a menstrual cup but hadn’t felt brave enough to try it. When you have been used to using other sanitary products for so long, it can seem a bit daunting to switch to something new, but with the pressures of the climate crisis and the growing understanding about the lack of regulation for sanitary products, more women are coming around to the idea of switching to a healthier and greener option!
I first made the switch to the Organicup last year and have never looked back. Below you will find a Q&A which will hopefully answer any questions that you may have, but firstly I want to discuss the benefits of making the change.
The cup is made from medical-grade silicone and unlike tampons isn’t made with ingredients such as aluminium, alcohols, fragrances, additives and hydrocarbons. Tampons are also put through a bleaching process which leaves behind dioxin, a group of chemical compounds that can disrupt hormones and have been linked to endometriosis and cancer. Pads also contain harmful chemicals which can be absorbed with continued, long-term use.
Unlike disposable period products, a menstrual cup is reusable for years! Sanitary waste (packaging included) generates more the 200,000 tonnes of waste per year – they all contain plastic but according to Friends of the Earth sanitary pads are 90% plastic! They then go on to end up in landfill or the ocean. I am always looking for new ways to reduce mine and my families carbon footprint, so this was a huge selling point for me.
On average a cup is £15-20 but lasts for approx 10 years! That’s approximately 15p per month! Wayyy cheaper than your average box of tampons.
When you have got the hang of how to insert it, it is a much easier option. You can wear it for up to 12 hours, it doesn’t leak and you can’t feel it – making it the comfiest option! The only negative to switching to a menstrual cup is that it can be a trial and error process with what brand you use and when learning to insert it may take a couple of days/periods to learn how to get it right, but once you do I guarantee you won’t look back!
HOW TO USE
There are a few different ways to fold the cup. I find the ‘C’ fold the easiest. Use your index finger to push one side in and fold the cup in half until it looks like the letter C. Insert and let it pop open. Be sure to check there’s no dents once the cup is inserted as this means it’s not opened completely and it will leak. You can check this by simply running your finger around the base of the cup to ensure the surface of the cup is smooth.
To remove, simply pull the stem and when you can reach the bottom of the cup, pinch to release suction and it slides out.
MENSTRUAL CUP Q&A
Is it uncomfortable?
No, not at all. I can honestly say it is the most comfortable sanitary product I have ever used. It may take a bit of practice when you first start using it, but once you get used to it you don’t even know it’s in there.
Can you feel it?
If it has been inserted correctly then no you cannot feel it at all. It is made from soft silicone and the shape of it means it sits perfectly inside your vagina, just below your cervix.
How often do you have to empty it?
It can be worn for up to 12 hours, but depending on your flow it may need emptying more often. You’ll get used to your own flow and when/how often it needs emptying. Maybe whilst getting used to it, it’s a good idea to empty every couple of hours to get to know the cup and your flow.
Is it easy to use?
It is easy when you get used to it. Little tip – before inserting mine for the first time I watched tutorials on youtube/on period cup websites which help explain the different methods for inserting/removing.
Is it messy?
When emptying the cup it is super easy to pour it straight down the toilet. If the sink is within reaching distance simply rinse and re-insert. If you find yourself having to empty the cup when out and about, it is less likely there will be a sink within the toilet cubical. For these occasions, you can either use toilet roll to wrap the cup up and head to the sink, alternatively you can purchase wipes for cleaning the cup on-the-go.
Why are there different sizes?
You will need a bigger size if you have given birth vaginally. I use Organicup who offer three sizes:
Mini (17ml capacity) – for teens
Size A (25ml capacity) – for those that haven’t given birth vaginally
Size B (30 ml capacity) – for those that have
What is it made from? Is it safe?
Yes totally safe (FDA approved)! No allergens and made from medical-grade silicone, which means it does not absorb the moisture in your vagina, reducing dryness and infections.
If you’re looking to buy a menstrual cup it is worth noting the ones that are helping in the fight against period poverty.
BETTER CUP – For every cup purchased, one cup is donated to a teenage girl at Hope School in Zimbabwe. They survive on an average family income of $1 per day and keeping girls in school is increasingly difficult and many of the girls will be absent during her monthly period as she’ll have no access to sanitary products.
RUBY CUP donated cups to ‘Ditch the Rag’, a UK fundraising initiative with the vision of ending period poverty with plastic-free, eco-friendly products.
THE CUP EFFECT – For each cup purchased through The Cup Effect, two are donated to women and girls facing period poverty either in East Africa or the UK.
ORGANICUP donated 660 cups to City to Sea’s ‘Rethink Periods’. The project involves 600 schools in England and provides teacher training and product demo boxes for schools.