Today I want to get very personal (and detailed) and talk about my latest swap: the menstrual cup. It’s estimated that tampon users will go through 11.000 tampons in her lifetime. I personally estimate that I use around
I only made the switch this week because 1) I was a bit scared of fitting this little cup into my lady parts and 2) I still had a stock pile of tampons waiting to be used and I think the first tenant of zero waste would be to not create waste just to make swaps.
Some facts to start. I have a VERY light period. It run from 3-4 days, it’s always on time, and I have a light flow. But I also have dysmenorrhea (read painful periods with lots of cramps and occasional vomiting), so it’s not party time. I don’t use pads or liners, nor wipes or washes. My personal estimate is that I use 8-10 tampons per cycle, resulting in approximately 120 tampons used per year.
Selecting a menstrual cup
To complete my purchase I did a great deal of research online reading other blog. I found this article the most helpful. But in the end I went with the Mooncup that is available in my country. Here’s an excellent article with a Mooncup review that made my choice even easier. I purchased the A version, as I am over 30 (as indicated on the packaging).
I purchased it at a local bio supermarket, Molsa, for 28€. I find the prices to be steep, but when thinking about safety and the long term use of this product you will absolutely be saving compared to purchasing disposable tampons, pads, and liners.
Inserting and adjusting the Mooncup
I work up at 7am with stomach cramps, indicating my period would soon be on the way, but it was way too early to even think about learning how to insert the cup. I recommend waiting until you are alert, because it requires quite a bit of concentration and trial & error.
Later in the day I followed the instruction to first sterilize the cup. This required boiling the cup for 5-7 minutes but making sure not to boil it dry. After sterilizing I waited 15 minutes for the cup to cool before getting to work.
Choose your first time inserting the cup along with your sleep schedule as you should be cleaning it out every 4-8 hours. I started at 8pm.
Pantsless, and standing I put myself into a squatting position for easier insertion. I wet the cup, as recommended in the instruction, and prepared for the worst.
I found the first method of folding the cup twice to be the easiest way to insert it. You squeeze it flat and fold it in half. It is quite a bit bulkier than a tampon so it will feel quite uncomfortable.
I found it best to press it toward the lower part of my vagina to insert it more easily.
Don’t let go of the fold and side the cup higher you can adjust it down afterwards, but it’s so bulky I found it more difficult to push it up then pull it down into place. It has quite a suction! I used my index finger on the sides of the cup to get it into a more comfortable position.
I didn’t have any problems with the cup opening properly once inside.
This cup has a long stem that you can cut to adjust. The stem should not hang outside of the vagina. I immediately removed it to cut the stem a bit and the second insertion was much easier. But the stem was still to long, but I decide to wait until my next cleaning to remove it again.
How the Mooncup feels inside
When I have a tampon in, I don’t feel anything, but I know many women than do. The Mooncup I can definitely feel inside me, particularly when I was more bloated at the beginning of my period. It feels like a little bit of pressure inside.
After the insertion I fiddle with the cups for a few minutes (and every few minutes) to adjust when it is pressing on my insides. I’m sure with further use it will get easier to place it just right the first time.
It reminds me of my first experience using tampons at 17. It took some getting used to getting the right angle. And this is quite the same. There is a little learning curve.
After the first day, I could barely feel it there and it made me a little worried about leaks. Gratefully, there were none to speak of!
Removing the Mooncup
Removing the cup was BY FAR the most difficult part. The trick is to be calm. For this reason, I would not recommend a menstrual cup for younger users. Thinking about my younger self, I would be freaking out (and possibly crying trying to get the suction to give up and release the cup from my vaginal walls.
But as a mature 33 year old staying calm was no issue. I resumed the same standing squat position to remove the cup, as I did when inserting it.
I found the first method of squeezing the cup with two fingers from the bottom to be impossible. Instead I used my index finger to break the suction seal and gentle used it to the slide the cup lower.
Again, I pushed the cup toward the lower part of my vagina to make it easier to pull out. Since the stem was fully outside of my vagina, then I could grasp the cup with 2 fingers and pull it down.
There was not risk of leakage as the cup was quite suctioned in. It’s only in those final moment when you get the cup full out that you might slip, but it you are going slow and cautious I see no possible issues.
Clearing and cleaning the Mooncup
I found it easy to clean out the cup and get it ready for reinsertion. On the first day of my period I didn’t have a big flow, so there was barely anything to clean out. But a quick wash in the sink and you’re all set.
P.S. I would not feel comfortable cleaning out the cup in a public bathroom without a private sink.
At the end of my cycle I again sterilized the cup and placed in into the cloth carry case, ready for its next use.
Pros of the Mooncup
- Easy to insert and adjust (there is a learning curve)
- Clear instructions
- Convenient carrying bag
- Comfortable inside
- Simple, not fancy color or glitter
- No leakage, tight seal
- Certified ethical business
- Two sizes for the best fit
- Translated into multiple languages
- No plastic waste
Cons of the Mooncup
- A bit difficult to remove (but I’m sure it will improve)
- Hurts on the way out as it’s now a full cup, not double folded
- High cost (but let’s test it against durability) – might be cost prohibitive for some potential users
Final thoughts on Mooncup
I’m pretty satisfied with my purchase, as you can see from the PROs far outweighing the cons. I hope it will last me a long time. Buying 150 tampons per year (3 boxes of 50 from Target) runs me $28 (25€). So this purchase will pay off in one year. I think the environmental impact, the impact on my body, and the impact on my finances are well worth the switch.
The little discomfort in starting a new method of managing my period will go away, but the benefits will not. Excellent solution and zero waste swap.
Have you made the switch? Which cup are you using? Let me know in the comments.
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