There’s a lot of pressure lately to “save the environment,” “be greener,” “produce less waste!” Wonderful goals, and I try, I really do…but I’m not so great at it. One of the places where I am rockin’ at waste reduction is my choice of “feminine products.” Okay, maybe not totally rockin’ it, maybe medium rockin’, but that’s better than nothing. By the way, the term “feminine products” really grates on my nerves…
For the first few years of period-having I used pads because, well, that’s what you did. There was a pretty heavy undertone amongst my 13 year old peers that tampons were icky. “Ew, you have to touch your vagina!” “Ew, they go inside!” Blah, blah, blah. I got over that by age 15, and what a relief tampons were! Pads are the icky ones! They shift and bulge and overflow! Not good things for self conscious teenagers.
Tampons and I got along pretty well for about 10 years. Sure, there was some trial and error with different brands and absorbency levels, and there was occasional leaking, but generally all was well. Until I had my daughter. Then they got really uncomfortable. I became very aware that I had a tampon in. And sometimes (usually when my cramps were bad) they hurt! Obviously I went to my gyno and got checked out, but there wasn’t anything wrong. Just my body being weird. So back to pads it was 😦
For years I’ve been hearing good things about Mooncups and the like.
If you aren’t familiar, they’re reusable silicone (sometimes latex) cups that sit in the vaginal canal and collect menstrual fluid. Sounds feasible, great for the environment. Really, how many pads and/or tampons do you through away during the typical cycle? I know I was going through 4-6 each day. My only concern is that those cups still sit in the vagina like a tampon does, and I was afraid they would cause the same pain issues.
Finally, I found these:
What the hell is that?
It’s an Instead Softcup. Similar to a Mooncup in that it’s a reusable plastic-y fluid container, but instead of sitting as low as possible in the vagina, it sits directly under/around the cervix. Like a diaphragm. So Softcups don’t hurt me and that’s fantastic!
Of course there are downsides. It can take some practice to position properly. It also takes practice to remove without spilling. The cup does occasionally spill during wear and, yes, it’s messy when that happens. I handle that by wearing a backup pantyliner (or pad, if I need it) when my flow is heavier. Emptying the cup when out and about can be troublesome, too. At home I rinse it out every time I empty, but that’s not always feasible in a public restroom depending on your personal comfort level. I admit that I’m too embarrassed to carry a dirty cup out of the stall to rinse in the sink, mostly because I’m sure it would gross people out. What I do is empty the cup as best I can in the toilet and wipe it out with toilet paper. Luckily I usually have baby wipes with me (kids and all…) so I can clean up any…spatter. Spatter unfortunately happens sometimes.
So the Softcup is messy, but I’ll take that over pain from tampons or bulk from pads. There are other benefits, too. The cup can be left in for 12 hours at a time. I love this because I can put it in when I’m expecting my period to start, which saves me a messy surprise arrival. I can also leave it in at the end, when my period likes to play “I’m totally done now…Surprise, just kidding!” I mean, I could do that with a tampon too. But have you ever misjudged and had to pull out a dry tampon? Holy hell is that awful! The material of the Softcup slides nice and smoothly. Another benefit? You can leave it in for sex. Though I would suggest adding some lube to your sexytimes if you leave it; I’ve occasionally noticed a dryness problem.
One of the biggest benefits is environmental. I use the disposal version of the Softcup (they do make a different reusable cup, which I need to research better), and still I only go through one cup per cycle. That takes up a lot less space in the garbage can than a period’s worth of tampons. Plus, the price is right, you guys. Around $6 for a box of 14 cups, and that lasts me about a year. I could cut down on waste even more by using reusable pads, which is something I’m looking into. Check out Glad Rags or Lunapads for more information.
Have you tried any alternative menstrual products? Happy with your Playtex? Tell me about it!