Written by Jessica Beare.
As an environmentalist and a person who travels, the menstrual cup is something that I had been considering for quite a while before I bit the bullet and got one. I had been a tampon girl, the ease of just sticking them up there and forgetting for a couple of hours was pretty ace, and the idea of sanitary pads made me shudder (and still does to this day). The issue I had was that many brands of tampons used to give me a reaction, so I often found that I could only use those without rayon, which by the way, is approximately one brand carried by approximately one store across the nation.
Enter the Mooncup, the UK’s answer to the USA’s Diva Cup. It’s made from medical grade silicone and comes in two sizes, depending on whether you’ve squeezed a watermelon-sized person out of your vagina. It’s latex, dye, BPA, toxin and bleach free, so basically you’ll be an anomaly if you have a reaction. It lasts a couple of years with proper care, and costs about £20 which is the equivalent of 4 boxes of tampons, so you save your pennies as well as the oceans/Earth (no bloody tampons being sent on their journey down the sewer lines or to landfill).
What I have tried to do here is give you an honest write-up of my first period using a Mooncup, to help you decide if it’s an option for you. Note: this is probably the only time that you should listen to my advice on what/who to let into your vagina.
The Mooncup is purchased from Boots, and I’m ready and raring to go. I’m a size B due to my age and the fact I haven’t had a baby. It has a long ‘tail’ at the bottom that you’re supposed to cut to the right length. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to cut it once it’s in or what, I don’t particularly want to take a pair of scissors that close to my clitoris, so I’ve taken a guess. The tail basically acts the same way as a tampon string, but sitting a lot lower in your vagina. It comes in a little cotton drawstring bag, so you can leave it in your bathroom without any ale housemates seeing it and recoiling in horror. The cup is squishy, but still looks remarkably big, not entirely sure how I’m going to get it up into my vagina, however the leaflet assures me that it’s pretty easy. The instructions tell me to sterilize it by boiling it in a pan. I really hope that my parents don’t walk in on me doing this. “Oh nothing, Dad, just making a quick snack…”
The First Insertion:
Well, putting in a Mooncup is not as easy as they would have you believe. The suggested way to fold it makes it bigger than my normal non-applicator tampons, and nowhere near as streamlined, so you can imagine my dismay this morning. I tried to pinch it together in a number of ways, but each time it sprung apart in its merry little dance, taunting to me of what was to come. The instructions say that it is easier to insert when wet, so I gave that a go once I was relaxed and sitting on the toilet. I’ll have to admit that the first time it ended up being a two-handed job, and I really had to get on in up there to make sure it didn’t explode open mind-way into my vagina (it did once it was not pleasant: think a slasher movie). Once in, it actually sat really comfortably, just inside the vagina and a lot lower down than a tampon. I gave myself a mental high-five for my stem-trimming skills. For the first half an hour or so after I inserted it, I could feel tiny little air bubbles ‘queefing’ out as it obviously moved into position and sealed properly. I managed to go on about my daily life for the full eight hour time frame that they recommend you stick to, with no disturbances or leakages. Can you believe it?! Eight hours! I didn’t have to think about the fact that I was on my period for a whopping eight hours!
The First Removal:
Taking it out was also not as easy as I expected. You have to get your fingers around the base and pinch it to supposedly break the seal, but I’m dubious as even after I had done this when I pulled, it felt like my uterus was being suctioned down through my vagina. Needless to say the Mooncup came out intact, and I spent a good two minutes staring in wonderment at the contents in the toilet bowl – never have I seen it look so PURE.
Once I knew what it should feel like, inserting became much easier. I fold it in half and then fold it in half again, and I’ve managed to get it down to a one-handed job, although there’s something about the angle that gives me immediate pins and needles up my hand which feels vile. I imagine that every woman will have her own method and way of handling it, and by the end of my first period I had cracked mine. I also find that it’s much easier to insert in the shower. I’ll empty it on the toilet, and then get into the shower where I’ll relax in the warm water, and have plenty of space to go for a full squat which makes it a tonne easier.
Every time I use it, I can pretty much for the full eight hours without emptying, but depending on your flow you may be different. I feel like we’re probably at the age where we know our bodies and our periods, so you’ll know when it’s your time to shed your load, empty the bucket, go full on Carrie in the toilet bowl.
The method that the leaflet recommended of ‘pinching the bottom to break the seal’ is the biggest load of crap I have ever read. The cup has these little holes around the seal that are supposed to stop it sealing completely and make you able to pull it out easily, however they almost always get blocked. This means that I just slip a finger up to the rim and push it in to break the seal. Ergo, this might not be the product for you if you are a little faint-hearted, don’t like the sight of blood etc. I believe it’s a great product for women who are cool with getting on up into their vaginas, and/or have been using non-applicator tampons.
If you go the whole hog and wear it for eight hours, for example overnight (which is totally safe and amazing by the way), it might wiggle its way up higher than you anticipated. If that happens, don’t panic, there is literally nowhere it can go. Just do a couple of kegels an it comes back to you.
Something to note is that you might have to plan your removal ahead of time. Public bathrooms with the sink outside of the cubicle can be a bit of a nightmare. Although it’s allegedly safe to just wipe the cup clean with tissue paper before reinserting, I personally like to wash it in warm water (also because a damp cup is way easier to insert).
I can’t believe that I didn’t switch to the Mooncup earlier. It’s so damn nice not to lug around boxes of tampons with me all the time. This has revolutionized the way that I view my period and the activities that I can do when I’m on. Although I do get the occasional spotting, it’s mostly just after I insert it while it settles into position. I highly recommend it for all women, even those who are unsure. Just think back to the first time you used a tampon: did you know what the hell to do with it? Were you a little scared? Embrace the future!
Jessica is a 24 (nearly 25 OH GOD) year old Brit slowly fumbling her way around the world. She was a hamster in a past life, but is currently an environmentalist based in Sydney as a small ginger. She spends her days trying to see as much nature as possible, writing a second-rate travel blog, and watching ‘dog and soldier reunion’ videos on YouTube. You can read more from her at JessicaWithJetLag.com and follow her on twitter @jessicajetlag.
To learn more about Mooncups and buy your own, you can click here!