Toss your tampons; hello, menstrual cup

The Moon Cup
The Moon Cup

I love my menstrual cup.

I really, really love my menstrual cup. I love it so much that I’m probably a little too vocal about my affection for this little silicone cup.

Friends recoiled with an “eww” as I eagerly described its splendor.

One girl who checked my bag for weapons at a concert didn’t know what I meant when I said “menstrual cup” as she held up the little cotton storage baggie. When I said “tampon-alternative” her eyes became wide and she quickly packed it away.

Why is bleeding still so taboo?

If only they really knew how great these little cups of happiness are!

Why am I so in love?

  • It’s so cheap in the long run.
  • It’s zero-waste and environmentally friendly.
  • It holds more volume than a tampon.
  • I don’t have to carry wads of tampons and pads around with me. In short, I’m always prepared.

I bought my first one back in 2013 when I heard buzzing about the somewhat-debunked toxic levels of dioxin in tampons from 20161031_223426the bleaching process of traditional tampons and pads, not to mention the fragrances. Yuck.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Though any level of dioxin (a carcinogen) is bad, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who we’re supposed to trust, says the levels are barely detectable in tampons. Sure, you could get all natural cotton non-bleached menstrual products, but you’re still going to be at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a nasty-but-rare staph infection, if you leave it in too long.

Staph bacteria are naturally found in the vagina.

When the staph bacteria become overgrown, usually due to wearing a super-absorbent tampon which allows a tampon to potentially be worn for longer, TSS can occur and is quickly fatal. This can also occur when super-absorbent tampons are used with light flow, which can dry out the vagina and cause tiny tears in the skin, opening a doorway for bacteria.

To be honest, menstrual cups are also packaged with TSS information, despite being non-drying and not truly “absorbent.”

However, menstrual cups are fundamentally different than tampons, notwithstanding both are worn internally.

The Beauty of the Cup

Included illustration
Included illustration

Instead of absorbing blood, etc. until it’s super-saturated and begins to leak (unless you have a pad backup), a menstrual cup collects the discharge in its basin away from you body. When you’re ready, you can easily remove, empty, rise and re-insert with zero-waste and no slinging fluids around the bathroom.

No dirty disposables in the trash, either. Just fold and insert.

You can sterilize the cup in boiling water at the end of your cycle and wash with soap and water (or rinse) between wearings.

The medical grade silicone warms to your body’s temperature, and when it does, you may forget you’re even wearing it. I still use pantyliners to catch overflow (never happened) or a sloppy installation (happens when I’m too quick), but you could totally get by without them.

There are tons of menstrual cups available out there. There’s DivaCup, Lunette, EvaCup, Femmycycle and Yuuki, to name some major brands. I use Moon Cup ($35).

I’m not here to tell you which menstrual cup to buy. I haven’t tried any but the Moon Cup and I have no reason to 20161031_224322move on. I’m only here to urge you to consider trying one out.

When choosing a menstrual cup, be sure to check sizes. Moon Cup for instance has sizes A and B, B being “before vaginal childbirth.” A-size cups are larger.

Menstrual cups can last years with proper care. My first one is still in great shape at three-years-old, but now discolored. Since I just got a new one in the mail, I thought it would be a good time to show it off.

Do you use a menstrual cup? Are you considering one now?

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