Period cups! They've been around for 20 years...but only this year have I started using one and I am so obsessed. Today I'm sharing my experience with the thing, since I know they is still not a lot of mainstream information about them.
What the heck is a period cup?
A period cup is a non toxic, eco-friendly, affordable, hassle-free and sustainable alternative to messy tampons and pads. Periods cups are usually made from silicone. You fold the cup up a certain way and insert the cup inside of your vagina (as you would a tampon), and it collects your uterus lining. You rinse it out every 12 hours and re-insert it, making it extremely sustainable and stress-free.
I first used a period cup in April, about 3 months into getting my period back due to PCOS (read the story here) I put on some Beyonce, dances around my apartment, lit some candles and got ready for insertion (lol). Not gonna lie, the first time was strange. It kind of felt like putting in a tampon for the first time (frightening). I had to tell myself to relax and let my muscles relax in order for it to work. Every time I tensed up, I reminded myself to loosen up. Once you relax, so do your muscles. Also, using non toxic lubrication helped tons. My favorite brand for non toxic lube is below in the Q+A section of this post. I also ended up cutting the removal piece a bit to make it more comfortable. Squatting over the toilet also helps with insertion the first few times.
My first period using a cup took some getting used to. My friend who has been using a cup for 8 years told me it takes 3 periods to get used to it, and she was so right. By July, I was completely used to the cup, had no issues inserting or removing, and felt so comfortable using it I couldn't stop talking about it. In fact, I kind of began loving getting my period so I could use the cup. It sounds weird, but it totally changed my relationship with my body and how I view my period. I think tampons and pads remove us from our periods. They keep us at a distance from really getting to know our bodies. Cups force us to be intimate with our bodies and our cycles, which I think is really cool. When you use a cup, you get to really know your flow, the color of your lining, etc. It's honestly very intimate and special.
So let's chat about the cups. Why aren't more people using them? Well, I think it's because we've been trained to think tampons are convenient, when really they aren't. You have to continuously buy them and always carry one around with you. They are a temporary solution.
Tampons are extremely toxic for the earth and that's not something we really think about. Environment usually comes second to 'personal hygiene' and convenience.
Secondly, I think lots of people are worried about using period cups in public bathrooms and at work since you have to empty it out and rinse it off with water before re-insertion.
To avoid this issue, my advice for you is when the cup is full and you remove it, simply pour the contents of the cup in the toilet, flush, pull your pants up and approach the sink to clean it it out with water.
There is absolutely no shame or anything "dirty" in using a period cup. It's all about shifting our perspective. In fact, if anything, there should more skepticism and awareness around tampons, which clog our toilets, fill up landfill, and are made from questionable, toxic ingredients.
So let's get to the good stuff.
Why should I use one?
- It's a healthier choice for your body. Did you know that generic tampon brands use the most sprayed part of the cotton plant to make tampons? And we are inserting those things into one of the most sensitive areas of the body! I don't know about you, but I don't want sprayed toxic cotton anywhere near my you-know-what. This whole unethical and unregulated farming methods of cotton makes me extremely skeptical and weary of tampons in general and using a period cup completely eliminates that being a possibility.
- Period cups are good for the earth. PERIOD. Ever think of how much waste tampons and pads create? Not to mention, most people improperly dispose of these products, flushing them down our toilets and clogging our waterways. 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are used once and disposed of annually. 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along the US coastal areas between 1998 and 1999.
- You can save hella money! As Brokelyn put it, you can save around $1,000 by using a period cup. That's a trip to France and back! "Assuming the average menstrual cycle uses 12 tampons and four to five pads, that’s roughly $50 per year. By switching to a $25 menstrual cup, you could save $475 over ten years. That’s $1,187.50 over the next 25 years." (read more here)
- It's convenient. You don't have to worry about running out of tampons or being caught on a getaway without a pad. A period cup is always with you, you never run out of it. You simply clean it out and re-use it. Bring it with you when you travel so you are always prepared.
Getting over the Period Stigma
We must remove the stigma of periods being “dirty” and “unsanitary”, and it starts with us.
Of course, common sense and general hygiene is encouraged. Wash your hands before and after using the cup, for your own sake and for the consideration of others.
But there is truly nothing gross about getting your period, or using a menstrual cup. We must not use these words when describing something that happens to every woman naturally, something that has to do with creating life. The fact that period products are called sanitary products are in itself an issue. Every woman gets her period, and it's about time we normalize it! A period is a magical thing and should be treated as so.
Once you start using a cup, you will become so much more in tune with your body and your cycles.
Since using the cup I have felt a stronger connection to my period. It’s honestly so cool. Call me crazy but I think a period is f#cking magic.
PERIODS ARE NOT GROSS. THEY ARE MAGIC.
So next time someone says “gross” in response to anything that has to do with a natural female cycle, gently remind them “without a period you would not be born. None of us would.” Mic drop.
Period Cup Q+A
Q:Which brand do you like?
Q: Does it hurt?
A: The first time I inserted a cup, it hurt. It turns out I was using the wrong size (oops), once I switched to a smaller size that fit my unique shape better, it was no issue. Now, it does not hurt AT ALL. Insertion is a breeze.
Q: How often do you change it?
A: This is completely subject to the unique intensity of your flow. It is recommended that you change your cup every 12 hours. Once you begin using the cup regularly, you will figure out how often you need to change yours.
Q: Can you sleep with it in?
A: Absolutely, I sleep with mine in every night during my period.
Q: Can you workout with it in?
A: Hell yes! I’ve gone spinning and done yoga in my cup, though it is recommended not to invert or go upside down at ALL during your period, as this would cause the contents of the cup to spill back into your uterus.
Q: Inserting it hurts! How can I make it more comfortable?
A: Using all natural lubrication like Good helps tons! I also find that simply wetting my hands with water helps removal as well.
Do you use a period cup? If so, what do you like about it?