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Menstrual Cups

April 09, 2014

Today we have a guest post by Samantha of Sweet Potatoes and Social Change. Her blog is all about homesteading in a small space, real food eating, and saving money. She’s a relatively new blogger, but she’s already got a ton of great stuff. Go check it out. It’s okay. I’ll wait.

Nice, right? 

Today she’s here to enlighten us about menstrual cups. I have been thinking about trying one, but haven’t taken the plunge. I think her post has me convinced. What do you think?

Menstrual Cups Aunt Flo(image source)

Menstrual Cups

I have put off writing this post for a long time, because who really wants to read about someone else’s period? That being said, I get asked more questions in person about menstrual cups than I do almost any other product. I am very involved in the arena female health and natural childbirth so I suppose people just feel comfortable talking to me about their time of the month. So, if so many people are interested in cups who am I to withhold my knowledge on the subject?

I have been using a cup for almost a year now and I have to say, I love it! I was familiar with the concept of reusable pads, but I have always worn tampons, I hate pads, so I was very excited to find a reusable version of a tampon.  However, I was very nervous about trying it out.  I researched them online, read reviews, debated over and over and finally caved and bought one. I will admit that there is a learning curve. Everyone’s anatomy is a little bit different so there is no way to tell what your experience will be, but for me it took about two periods to really get it down. You have to learn how to twist it to get a good seal and then you just have to learn the best position for it in your body. It is not at all painful even if you don’t have it positioned 100% correctly, you just might feel some pressure against your bladder, I did for like one or two months, and now it is no longer a problem.

All of that being said here is a mini crash course on the menstrual cup:

About the Cups:

  • There are a couple of different brands of cups to pick from. However, I am a big fan of the Lunette cup. Lunette comes in a variety of colors, is made of medical grade silicone and  is very comfortable.
  • All cups come is two sizes. Size 1 is for women who have either not had children or are under 30 years old. Size two is for women who have either had children or are over 30 years old, generally speaking. If you have not had children but are close to 30 I would still recommend getting the size 2 because you want to be able to use it for a number of years.
  • The stem of the cup can be cut off: All of the cups are bell shaped with a stem at the bottom. The stem is for easy removal, but because the cup sits lower in your vagina than a tampon does the stem can often be irritating and stick out. Feel free to cut it off. Pretty much everyone does. You will not have any problems removing it without the stem.
  • Cleaning of the Cup is Simple: You do not have to buy a fancy cleaner or wash for your cup if you don’t want to, however most companies do make a wash that accompanies their cup. When you are on your period and you empty your cup simply rinse it out with water. After your period. Wash it out with soap and then boil it in a pot of water for 5 minutes. Store it in the bag it came with and you are good to go.

Menstrual Cups Lunette


Benefits of Using a Cup:

  • It Saves You Money: Honestly this is one of the biggest reasons I bought one. After switching over to a mindset of opting for reusable things over disposal things as a means to save money it seemed ridiculous to have to spend the next 30 odd years of my life buying boxes and boxes of tampons when there was a reusable version. Most cups cost between $35-$40 and they last for at least 5 years. That is a minimum of 60 periods without buying a single pad or tampon… you do the math!
  • Its Better for the Environment: Approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to North American landfills every year and over the course of her lifetime every menstruating woman in North America will throw away approximately 16,800 pads or tampons in her lifetime. That is a lot of trash! Unnecessary trash! Tampons clog up septic systems, pads fill up landfills, all in all they are just terrible for the environment. (source)
  • Little to No Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): While the risk of toxic shock syndrome while using tampons is rare, it is still estimated that 1 to 17 in every 100,000 women will get TSS from tampons every year (source). Since menstrual cups were invented in the 1930’s there have been no reports of them causing TSS (source).
  • More Comfortable on Light Days: Because the cup is not absorbent like tampons it does not take away your bodies natural liquids or rely on your flow for comfort. This makes lighter days much more comfortable since you are no longer having to rip dry cotton out of your… you know.
  • Way Way Way More Convenient: The cup only has to be emptied once every 12-24 hours! Yes, for real! The manufacturer recommends emptying it once every 12 hours, but if you find that your flow is lighter and your cup is not even half full after 12 hours you can go longer. I empty mine once a day. No more days of getting caught in a public restroom with a leaking tampon and no replacement.
  • Zero to Few leaks: I have never had a leak with the cup in the entire year I have been using it. Now, if you have a heavy flow you may still have a leak or two, but it will be rare. If you properly insert your cup and create a seal you should not have a leak.

Basic Instructions:

1. When you are ready to use your cup make sure it is clean. Then simply press your finger into the side of it, folding it in half making a C shape.

2. Insert it about ¾ of the way into your vaginal opening. You want it in there enough that it stays but out enough that you can still get a good grip on the bottom of the cup.

3. Grip the bottom of the cup with the tips of your fingers and turn it one full rotation. This is how you establish a seal.

4. Push it in the rest of the way and adjust it so that it is comfortable.

5. When you are ready to empty it, bear down slightly, grip it and pull gently.

6. When it is out about ¼ of the way slip your finger up the side and press into the cup to break the seal, this make all the difference in the world in terms of comfort.

7. Pull it out. Empty it into the toilet, rinse it out in the sink, and reinsert it.

You will get very quick at this, I promise. I am to the point now that it is just as quick as using a tampon, but practice makes perfect.

All in all, if you are not using a cup you should. It makes your periods almost inconsequential because you have to worry with it so infrequently, it will save you a ton of money, and it will save the planet from being swallowed up by used tampons… there’s a mental image for you.

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