Ladies, it is time to reconsider how you manage your period for the good of your wallets and our planet. According to this article, women in the United States spend from $150 to $300 per year on menstrual products. Over her lifetime, the average woman will use 11,000 tampons and the manufacturing process is resource-intensive, full of chemicals and all tampons end up wrapped in one or more kinds of plastic, depending on if you use an applicator or not. That’s a lot of hard earned cash being spent each year on your period and a lot of waste being generated per person. What if we could easily solve those problems with one small change?
A few months ago, I purchased my first menstrual cup before leaving for a multi-month trip in Asia, where I had heard it could be challenging to find high-quality feminine hygiene products. I found this article helpful in selecting a model, since there are small nuanced differences in between menstrual cup models; the best one is ultimately the one that fits your body best. I initially got sticker shock about spending close to $40, but then realized that I was spending about $10 a month on organic cotton tampons and pantiliners, so in a few months, I’d be saving money by making the switch. I went for the Lunette Menstrual Cup over the more well-known Diva Cup since it sounded easier to clean and I started practicing with it before leaving on my trip to make sure that it was going to work for me. The first time I used it, I was not excited about how it felt but after a few hours, I got used to it and every time since then, it has felt totally normal to have to in and I no longer notice it. I have certainly made a few mistakes along the way, but now about six months in, I have finally gotten the hang of it and I will never go back to tampons or pads ever again.
Here are a few tips for success with making the switch to a menstrual cup!
- Use it with a pantiliner for the first few times, until you get the hang of it. You will eventually be able to get rid of that safety net, but trust me, it is nice to have the extra protection at first since you will inevitably mess up once or twice when figuring out how often to empty it on heavy days.
- You can use the menstrual cup on very light days easily; on days where it would be too dry and uncomfortable to insert a tampon, a menstrual cup will slip right in and eliminate your need for a pantiliner.
- You’ll likely empty it one to three times a day depending on your flow. After emptying it, the manufacturer recommends washing it with soap and water but if you’re in a public restroom or trekking in Nepal as I was, that can be hard to do. A small, refillable spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol combined with toilet paper is an easy way to clean your menstrual cup off when you’re on-the-go. You can also use alcohol wipes in a pinch, but since the packaging is usually plastic, I urge you to consider that as a last resort. The menstraul cup wipes the different brands sell are just overpriced, large alcohol soaked pads.
- After emptying it, be sure to use toilet paper to wipe it dry before reinserting it or you’ll get leakage, especially on heavy days. I thought for a while that it was destined to always leak on heavy days until I figured this out.
- At the end of your cycle, I personally like to wash it with soap and either boil it or wipe it down with rubbing alcohol before putting it back in its carrying bag to ensure it is nice and sterile.
- Overtime, the silicone does stain so I would avoid the clear color. The blue does pretty well, although now about six months in, I do see a bit of discoloration beginning, which is no big deal because it’s a menstrual cup and not a fashion accessory.
- If you take a bath with it, there is such a tight seal that no water enters into the cup! I experimented with it at home a few times to ensure that I could take it into a hot tub or swimming pool without any leakage or it taking on water. I’ve even gone to clothing optional hot springs with it in, and unlike a tampon that has an unsightly string. hanging down, no one can see you’re wearing it because it is so discrete.
- An unexpected bonus: things smell much fresher down there than with pads or tampons!
- Finally, don’t do inversions in yoga with a menstraul cup in. You always hear yoga teachers say never to do inversions while on your period and now I know why. Save yourself the embarrassment and take a child’s pose instead.
Seriously, it has been a great change moving from tampons to a menstrual cup and has reduced the hassle, discomfort and cost of my monthly cycle. I challenge you to try it out during your next menstrual cycle and get a few of your girlfriends to do it with you. You’ll not only be generating less waste, but you’ll save money after a few months and one you get used to it, it is far more comfortable than any of the alternatives. If any questions pop-up along the way, feel free to add them into the comments!