Health

5 Reasons Why You Need To Start Using A Menstrual Cup

I like to write about periods a lot, mainly because they suck and everyone should stop pretending that it’s not totally horrific to bleed from your lady garden once every month for 40 years but also because it’s interesting.

Every time I’ve written about periods in the past there has been at least one commenter who has been all ‘MENSTRUAL CUPS! GET A GOD DAMN MENSTRUAL CUP!’. The thought of menstrual cups used to gross me out so I’ve been ignoring the cries of the Cup User Brigade for years. I felt like if I bought one I’d have to brush my teeth with bi-carb soda and buy a pair of Birkinstocks. I love to dabble in holistic lifestyle practices but I draw the line at clunky, unflattering footwear and makeshift toothpaste. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the particulars of cup usage and most of them seemed to have weird storage solutions like cloth bags that seemed unsanitary to me.

So anyway a Kickstarter for a collapsible menstrual cup caught my eye and I decided to give it a go and I’m 100% converted. I drank the menstrual cup Koolaid and it was awesome – that’s a rather visceral and disgusting metaphor isn’t it? Moving on… here’s 5 reasons why you need to start using a menstrual cup immediately.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 2.35.14 pm

1. It will reduce period pain

I can’t explain to you why this happens but it just does. I didn’t believe it before I tried it because I get period pain whether I use tampons or pads (slightly less with pads) but for some reason my period pain is reduced when using a menstrual cup. It’s weird and I don’t get it but I’m not going to question it. I’ve asked several doctors and lots of cup users for an explanation but there isn’t a proven cause. Let’s just not talk about this benefit in case it goes away okay?

2. It will save you money

I used to use a combo of pads and tampons and it would cost me about $10 per month. Depending on flow that’s about 30 tampons over 7 days (yes 7 days and if my body is really being a bitch it might even be 10 days) that’s 2 boxes of 16 Libras at about $4.50 to $5 each. That’s at least a saving of $120 per year. Not that feminine hygiene is really the place to be cutting corners in your budget but $120 is a pretty decent saving. A menstrual cup is about $40 and you can use it for years.

3. It will save the environment

I hate waste and there’s so much packaging involved with sanitary products. Since I got my Lily Cup I hardly ever have to empty my bathroom bin and I never, ever run out of tampons. It’s awesome.

4. It’s convenient

Carrying around a tiny little compact is so much more convenient than toting around a handful of tampons or a thick wad of sanitary pads. Plus it’s adorable. It will also stop you from having to buy sanitary pads in a small village in India where no one speaks English, when your period arrives two weeks early for no reason. That was a fun day. Not. You can also keep them in for up to ten hours. Even on my heaviest days, I just empty it once in the morning and once at night. It’s the actual best.

Hands holding a menstrual cup

5. It’s risk free

There’s no risk of TSS, infections, dryness or irritation. Tampons absorb not only menstrual fluid but a decent amount of a woman’s natural and cleansing lubrication which isn’t good for keeping your lady parts healthy. Medical grade silicon is the bomb and it’s the only thing that’s ever going near my clacker when I’ve got my period from now on. I’m a total convert, can you tell?

A few notes

It took me about 3 full periods to totally get the hang of it and I used sanitary pads as insurance during this time. Menstrual cups take a little bit of getting used to – they sit a bit lower than tampons in your cervix and you have to get pretty well acquainted with your skirt taco until you know what it feels like when the seal is formed. It’s a bit like getting your period again for the first time. Also menstrual cups aren’t at all absorbent so you’ll be seeing your menstrual fluid in a state you might not have seen it in before and it can be a bit confronting. You do get used to it pretty quickly though and I for one will not be going back to tampons. I used to think that menstrual cups were a bit hippy and weird but now tampons seem strange to me.

Have you ever used a menstrual cup? Would you consider getting one?

P.S Do you want more info on how to be totally awesome at life? Follow Smaggle on Facebook. I post daily lifestyle tips and lots of no bullshit motivational stuff… and anything Amy Poehler says that’s awesome.

P.P.S Also here are some fantastic projects that some very excellent people have started in order to make feminine hygiene products, including menstrual cups, available to women who are homeless or live in developing countries. If you can spare a few dollars for one of the projects that would be amazing. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to not have the resources to properly take care of yourself whilst menstruating. No woman should have to struggle with that. Here are a few links if you want to help out – Femme International, Dahlia Project and Action Aid.

P.P.P.S The first menstrual cups were invented in the 1930s and were made of vulcanised rubber. 

68 Comments

  1. Maria 6 years ago

    I think this is a great alternative but, at least in Spain, barely known of. I’d like to give it a go, mostly for convenience and lack of waste but still.. the concept sounds very alien and weird to me, so I definitely need a push!
    xx Maria

    • J 6 years ago

      They’re hardly known of in most countries, since it doesn’t benefit the tampon and pad producers.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      I’ve never seen them in a physical store except for health food shops. They’re much more of an online thing.

      • Jenni 6 years ago

        Actually, check out http://menstrualcupmap.com to see what physical stores you can find them in. Depending on where you are, you might be surprised how easily available they are.

  2. Rachael H. 6 years ago

    I started using one years ago and LOVE IT. I used to have debilitating cramps – like throwing up they were so bad – and somehow with a cup they’re almost completely nonexistent. The only time I don’t love it is on a heavy day when I have to dump it out in a public bathroom at work, but I’m quickly getting used to that.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      How weird is the cramping thing? I never believed until I tried it. I still get cramps but not anywhere near as badly and for a much shorter period of time now. I work for myself so I’m lucky in that regard and the office I rent has a sink in the toilet which is great. The good thing is you can leave them in for 10 hours and I’m rarely away from an appropriate toilet in that amount of time. I’ll also so a ‘just in case’ empty if I get the chance!

  3. Lisa 6 years ago

    Love my menstrual cup. Been using one for around three-years. It makes period-hell much more manageable – esp since no-one is buying into my – women need a week off work every month deal (bastards). My periods are 1) less painful, 2) not as long and 3) not as traumatic as the cup is hassle-free. Yay for menstrual cups and blog posts about them.

  4. Susan 6 years ago

    Wondering how you find the Liky compact? I was worried to would squish up and collapse while trying to get it in?!

    • J 6 years ago

      I have it and there is no chance of it collapsing back in when you wear it. It’s really sturdy and you have to really push to fold it back in on itself when you want to put it back in the compact.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      It maintains its structural integrity really well! It’s the only one I’ve used and I love it!

  5. K 6 years ago

    Hey Smags, what about cleaning – do you have to use soap etc? Wondering about traveling in places like India or hiking. I have always wanted to try cups but that’s my worry.

    • J 6 years ago

      You can boil it between periods, and just rinse with warm water between. Try to avoid using soaps as it can irritate and upset your natural balance.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      I just rinse it with water in the shower or under the tap if I’m not showering. It just needs to be cleaned with fresh potable water – any water you can drink basically! If I was in India I’d used bottled water, if I was camping I’d use filtered drinking water.

      • K 6 years ago

        Thank you both. I’m jumping on this little plastic band wagon!

  6. Christine 6 years ago

    Many years ago when it was reported that a major lady product manufacturer was putting anticoagulant in their tampons ( presumably to make you bleed longer – never found anything definitive on that – research project for Carly?), I looked into cups, but just could not get over the line. Switched to organic tampons. Plus has 2 daughters entering puberty and I was sure they would resist, mainly due to peer pressure, and well, pre-teenage girls. I might have persisted if I’d known about reducing period cramps – one of mine suffered terribly with that. There are many things about getting older that really suck, but stopping menstruating is not one of them! xx

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      That’s the actually worst! My periods are all over the shop so I’m not sure I would have noticed!

    • Lilybett 6 years ago

      Hi Christine – while doing a bit of menstrual cup research I found this teenage girl talking about how to choose your first one – and I think she’s a great pro-active and un-squeemish role model for young girls – wish I’d seen this when I first started in highschool.

  7. Nina 6 years ago

    I’m using mine for my first period now. I’m on day 3 and it’s definitely taking some getting used to, but I think I’m on the path to conversion! The trickiest but for me is getting it to sit in the right spot. I’ve had no trouble forming a seal, but I am still figuring out where I can’t feel it but can still reach it! I had a terrifying morning where I thought it was stuck! But then I remembered the instructions which said to push it out with your vaginal muscles… totally works! Also, no period pain!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      How weird is the period pain thing? I can’t actually get over it. It’s so bizarre. It sounds like you’re exactly where I was at that stage – keep plugging away at it! By month three you’ll be loving it.

  8. J 6 years ago

    Yay, I’m happy you got one and liked it so much! (it’s the one I linked as well, how fun!)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      Oh thank you so much! It’s been such a life changer… I don’t think I would have bought a non-colapsible one. This one sold me!

  9. Ali 6 years ago

    I Literally just started using one two days ago. Still getting used to it, but I think I’m a convert too

  10. Steph Allen 6 years ago

    The thought of them still grosses me out! My mum suggested them to my sisters and i a while back and a hilarious 5-way facebook-messenger conversation ensued ended in a great idea to smuggle drugs into bali in your ‘period cup’ lol.
    Thanks for this article though… I might consider it. Also if you like this. ..check out the she-wee…grossed me out until i tried it and it was awesome. I haven’t bought one yet though but if i start camping more I’d definitely consider it!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      That’s not a terrible idea… have you watch Broad City? One of the girls keeps her weed in there. She calls ‘natures incubator’. Hilarious. I’ve seen she-wees but I’m a master hoverer so I don’t really need one!

  11. carolyngracebeaumont 6 years ago

    I’m a few months into using one now and I looooooooooooovvvvvveeeee it. I was definitely one of the people on a previous post telling you how fricken awesome it is. Seriously. Amazing.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      I can’t believe how long it took me to get on board. I think the issue is that women don’t realise everything that’s wrong with pads and tampons because we’re so used to it! I also love not paying the tampon tax anymore. Political fist pump!

  12. harryfiddler 6 years ago

    I’ve seen them on the shelves in Boots in the UK. Wish they’d stock them here. Mind you, they last for years! I love mine – a Diva Cup – and it’s got me through the hideous perimenopausal let’s just play haemorrhage for 3 days stage of womanhood. No way tampons would have coped.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Totally! Tampons suck. It’s good to know they’re stocked in regular Boots in the UK! Awesome!

  13. katepicklek 6 years ago

    Oooh I love the collapsible one!
    I’ve used a cup for nearly 8 years (with time off for pregnancy) and I love it. It’s comfortable and easy… especially at night!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      See this is what I’m talking about! All these women quietly using cups and being awesome all this time. I’m so glad I’m part of the club. I feel very modern and cool.

  14. Kathryn 6 years ago

    I’ve thought about getting one especially for travel — but I’m so close to menopause it seems like a risk investment. I mean, you can’t exactly pass it on when you don’t need it any longer.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 6 years ago

      Definitely not! But it’s only $40… that’s only 4 months worth of tampons.

  15. Wow. I really appreciate that you tackled the nitty gritty of these in this post. I just don’t know. I’m really not into mess. There are so many reasons for using them though…

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I’m DEFINITELY not into mess but they aren’t actually that messy. You just need a tap. Some brands of menstrual cups have little wipes you can buy too? Just a thought?

  16. Nadine 6 years ago

    Love your lady stuff posts! This was really interesting!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I thought it would be a good thing to write about because convincing women to use them is pretty difficult – it took years of people singing their praises for me to actually pay attention to it!

  17. my2morrows 6 years ago

    Never going back!!
    You are so right… after 8 months of using one (I have the juju cup, Aussie small business) tampons just dont make any sense anymore!
    I can’t believe I’m saying this but apart from changing it every 12 hrs I actually could forget I even have my period! Xx

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I know! Me too! Tampons are hideous to me now – and they hurt! When they’re ‘full’ they put so much pressure on my lady parts. It’s nasty. I’m never going back.

  18. Nicole (@dorkabrain) 6 years ago

    A friend of my has been a very loud advocate for this kind of product for years; I really need to pull my head out of my arse and get one because, just for the reduction in environmental waste alone, I think it’s worth it. I also think it’s a little bit of a fuck you to a pretty restrictive, often over-priced industry. I wonder if it could do any good for my ovarian cysts pain.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I think so too! I like not paying tampon tax anymore!

  19. Carohutchison 6 years ago

    I love mine, but the only thing I hate is the remanents in the loo bowl. The blood doesn’t always flush first go and I’d rather not share my menstrual cycle with all the users of our loo. Small thing really, I still highly recommend, but do love an overshare!

    • J 6 years ago

      I usually empty it in the shower, so it goes away completely. And when you’re on your period you tend to shower a bit more anyway, so I find it very convenient.

    • asdf asd 6 years ago

      I have noticed this too. But if you throw a couple of sheets of toilet paper in the bowl before emptying the cup, you’ll find it flushes away in one go.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I usually empty in the shower but if I have to empty in a toilet, most of the time it does just flush away. If not I just flush again a few times. I think it’s better than a tampon floater though! 🙂

  20. Maxabella 6 years ago

    You’ve sold me, after years of thinking they were a bit icky, I’m going to give it a go.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Oh good! I thought they were icky for years but I just love it now. I won’t go back to tampons.

  21. Red 6 years ago

    What about if you have an IUD? Does it affect using it?

  22. mrs cookie 6 years ago

    Ditto what Red said…any other IUD wearers using one??? I used cloth nappies (& I own a couple of pairs of Birkenstocks) so should probably get on board!

    • Carohutchison 6 years ago

      I have an IUD and have had no problems.

      • Author
        Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

        I would assume it would be the same as tampons right? You can use those with an IUD can’t you?

        • Anne 6 years ago

          My doc said that the cup might be better for IUD users because it gets rid of that (very very very very) small chance of the tampon dislodging the IUD.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Oh definitely! I think the all Birkenstock wearers are legally required to use menstrual cups. 🙂

  23. asdf asd 6 years ago

    I love my Mooncup too, I’ve had it over 10 years and it is still going strong. I was given the advice of practicing insertion and removal when you haven’t got a period and to use some KY jelly and in the shower if convenient too. Much easier than trying to get it in for the first time while you’re bleeding.
    It’s also great if you are expecting a period but it hasn’t arrived and you have to go swimming that day with the kids!! Imagine using a tampon just in case, ouch!
    I change it twice a day too at least, once in the morning and again in the evening when showering, so easy.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Yep! I’m the same! Twice a day change. It’s also good for the last few days when you don’t have that much fluid and tampons are too drying. It’s the best thing ever! I’m never going back!

  24. michelle 6 years ago

    I am only hearing positive things but I worry about leakage and spilling when removing. I have super heavy periods

    • Michelle 6 years ago

      When I have mine in on a particularly heavy day, I use a panty liner in case it leaks. 90% of the time I don’t even need it, but its good for peace of mind. Once you get the hang of taking it out, spillage isn’t a problem at all, especially if taking it out while sitting on the toilet (the easiest way for me). Definitely give it a go– you’ll never look back!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      I get pretty heavy periods at least for the first few days – I used a pad at night but I honestly haven’t needed it. I also empty it a few more times on heavy days!

  25. nessbow 6 years ago

    I’ve been using mine for about seven months now and I’m hooked. As you mentioned it does have a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it the cup makes periods a lot less stressful. A couple of added benefits I’ve noticed: as a very active woman who does yoga daily, the cup makes exercise much easier and more comfortable. I would often leak off the side of my pad during yoga and I found tampons uncomfortable when I’d engage my core muscles. Because the cup is soft and it moulds to your body, you really can’t feel a thing when you’re bending into some crazy asanas.

    Also, they’re way more discreet. I never have to worry about trying to smuggle a tampon into the toilet at work or trying to figure out what to do if I’m in a lavatory with no disposal bin.

    I’m really squeamish so I thought I’d hate using a cup, but it’s honestly nowhere near as gross as you might imagine. As you mentioned it’s a bit confronting but I got used to seeing my flow very quickly.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      That’s exactly it. Also pads and tampons are pretty gross the only difference is that we’re used to them. It’s still the same stuff, it’s just in a different form.

  26. Ange 6 years ago

    Wow. Your post and all these amazing comments have been the most educational thing ever. I’ve got to try it. Carly, you’re seriously changing lives for the better here! Thank you.

  27. SckoonCup 6 years ago

    Your post is very informative and helpful. I would ask if you could let people know more about the safety aspect of menstrual cups and FDA regulations; http://sckooncup.com/blog/dont-put-yourself-at-risk-by-buying-a-cheap-menstrual-cup/

  28. mummy2v 6 years ago

    Hmmm to try or not to try…. I have recently started getting insanely heavy periods, as in a tampon and a pad change every hour or so. Its revolting and so new to me. I used to be able to use panty liners only during my period.

    Tampons really freak me out these days (because of how much they normally hurt me due to such light bleeding) and so I am not sure I could get my head in the right frame of mind for a cup.

    I’d be interested to know if there are any leakage problems with crazy heavy periods….

  29. Mel Allen 3 years ago

    Is a skirt taco another name for a vagina? #help

Pingbacks

  1. […] no sense to me anymore. None! I won’t go into detail, but have a read of this post from Smaggle for more […]

  2. […] such a weird hidden secret. For example I switched to using a menstrual cup about a year ago (you can read all about it here) and I need to boil it for 5 minutes every month after I’ve used it. When I first started using a […]

  3. […] bother at all when you’re getting along fine with tampons, there are a whole load of reasons that others have already written about (be warned; that last link is not for the faint-hearted). So I’ll just […]

  4. […] for AGES, so leaks are very rare these days but they do happen every now and then. I switched to a menstrual cup a few years ago (best decision EVER) but one of the draw backs is that there’s no absorption […]

  5. […] I ignored her again. Unprompted, a few months later she sent me an article about menstrual cups in the same week I saw an advertisement for collapsible Lily Cups. The tiny little compact enticed me so I ordered one and I’ve never looked back. My Lily cup is one of my favourite purchases of the last few years and I now own three because I fla… […]

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