Warning: This post explicitly discusses menstrual products, menstruation, and the vagina.
It’s been nearly three years since I ordered my first Mooncup. Unfortunately, for the last six months, I’ve reverted back to using tampons (and even pads!) because I misplaced my first cup and couldn’t afford to replace it. Over the course of the last six months, my periods have become increasingly uncomfortable; my cramps have returned full-force, my flow has gotten heavier, and my vagina has been sore throughout each menstruation period because of all of the irritation. Last month, after experiencing my first bike-riding period, I sat down and ordered a replacement Mooncup.
The difference between the period I just ended and the periods I’ve had for the last six months was massive. The very first time I used a menstrual cup, it was uncomfortable and weird and messy and I couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work for me. I stuck with it, though, and eventually fell in love with the comfort of it. Menstrual cups are not only safer and healthier for your body than tampons, they’re also cheaper, more durable, and significantly more environmentally friendly. Plus, they fit so snug inside and prevent leaks so well that you almost forget you’re even using them.
There are many, many brands of menstrual cups and I won’t say that the Mooncup is inherently better than others because I haven’t tried others. The reason I opted to order another Mooncup this time around is because I know I like and can trust the product. I think that menstrual cups in general — regardless who manufactures them — are incredible. I’ve recommended them to multiple friends who suffered from terrible periods and have received nothing but glowing thanks in response.
I ordered my first menstrual cup on a recommendation from a friend, as well, and I will forever be in that person’s debt for suggesting the product to me after I complained about being outrageously uncomfortable during my periods. Now that I’m cycling rather than driving everywhere, comfort is key: cycling helps eliminate any cramps or bloating I feel, which is awesome, but tampons and pads make my vagina and outer lips feel so dry and raw and awful that riding induces tears. Riding with a menstrual cup feels as good as riding when I’m not on my period. It’s an awesome thing.
Since I first used my first Mooncup in 2012, I’ve learned a few things about how to customize the product for individual use. Each cup comes with a plastic stem that can be trimmed depending on how long the user likes it to be; allowing the stem to sit outside the vagina can cause irritation and inflammation, so the user guide recommends trimming until it sits just inside. The stem is meant to make removal of the menstrual cup easier. I, personally, don’t like having the stem on the cup at all. As you can see in the photo above, the first thing I did after boiling my Mooncup to sanitize it was remove the stem completely. For me, pinching the base of the cup and pulling out is more comfortable and easier to maneuver. It’s also not as messy and doesn’t “pull” on my insides as much. There are several videos on YouTube that teach different ways of folding menstrual cups for insertion, as well as different ways of grasping them for removal. I had to do a bit of research and then undergo a lot of trial and error before I found what works for me.
Repeated periods have also taught me how to use the cup without making a mess every time. Again, this takes some trial and error, but the biggest thing I’ve found is that removing the cup, emptying it into the toilet bowl, and then cupping my other hand by the toilet seat to catch any spare drops of blood or tissue as I pull the cup up and away helps massively. I rinse after every usage and scrub the cup twice a day with unscented antibacterial soap (usually in the shower and then before bed). In public restrooms, I wipe the cup out with toilet paper, leave the stall to quickly rinse it in the sink, and then return to the stall to re-insert it.
Lots of people have expressed concern over how messy it is to transition to a menstrual cup. In my experience, once you and your body get used to the cup and vice versa, it’s no messier than trying to change a tampon or a pad.
The more I try to live a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, the more products like a reusable menstrual cup make sense to me. When I first started using a cup two and a half years ago, it completely changed the chemistry of my periods. Having to revert to man-made, disposable products for the last several months has been downright horrible. I’m so glad to be back to using a cup. I won’t let this one out of my sight (or at least, I won’t let it out of my bag), because I don’t want to suffer through another period without a cup ever again.