Something Else Sunday: I’m Going To Talk About Menstruation

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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.

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image from mooncup.com

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:

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Image from softcup.com

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!

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6 thoughts on “Something Else Sunday: I’m Going To Talk About Menstruation

  1. I liked the Diva Cup back in the day, although removing and washing took a while to get the hang of. Now I have a Mirena installed, which has made it so that I only need liners because my periods are so light.

      • Great topic! I switched to cups a few years ago & am thrilled with them. However, if I hadn’t a learned that there are much, much, MUCH better menstrual cups than the hard, huge, bishop’s mitre sized DivaCup, I would’ve given up in tears after my first try. These have been available in Europe for a long time, & frankly, they just do them better than U.S. Companies.

        My 2nd attempt was a Lunette (Finland co., I believe). Better, much smaller, but still pretty firm. Finally, I found this great blog: http://menstrualcupinfo.blogspot.com It has pix, reviews, & even tutorials of the many methods to fold them for insertion. It’s like period origami! There are quizzes to help you narrow down the best type of cup for you. I found MeLuna (German) & fell in love with their soft mini cups. http://www.meluna.org. Heaven. Totally customized options on types of tab, etc. They also have soft sponge tampons that can be used if you wish to engage in uh, romantic adventures during lady time. Or just have sensitive skin & want the softest least irritating option. How cool is that.

        Finally, a word of warning about Instead & UTI’s (bladder infections). If these are a problem for you, be very wary. Instead is shaped just like a diaphragm – a very large one, at that- & has the same design flaw of pressing hard against the urethra, which can cause irritation, and incomplete pee runs, really increasing risk to UTI if you’re prone to them. Hope all that helps someone else beginning their journey.

      • Awesome, thanks! I am absolutely going to check out that blog. The Instead is the best I’ve found but I’d like to find something less spill-prone if possible. And thanks for the UTI warning. I’m (luckily) not prone to them at all, so I didn’t even think about that.

  2. I have the “Shecup” and it’s ok, but I want the buy a Meluna with a “ring-handle” because I guess it’s way easier to take out. It’s really comfortable and I wonder how did I ever come to use tons and tons of tampons…

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