You might be sitting there, about to read this, thinking... "Wtf is a moon cup?"
Well, let me tell you all about it.
A moon cup is a menstrual cup. It goes by many names and is now available through many companies. Basically they are a soft silicone cup that is used in place of tampons and pads- yes you heard that right you can wear these things to bed no more squishing, squelching, padding around. They are eco friendly (i'll talk more about that later), and have been around for a while but are only now, getting some time in the spotlight.
How Does It Work?
All cups should come with their own set of instructions but ill give you the basic run down.
You fold the cup, place it inside of you and Instead of absorbing your flow, like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects it. Most cups you buy are reusable (which is another reason why they are so eco friendly). To remove it, you pull the tiny stem which will be sitting just inside the vaginal lips, when you feel the base section of the cup you pinch it, to release the seal and pull the rest of the cup out. You empty, wash with soap and water and replace. At the end you sterilise the cup in boiling water.
Menstrual cups were first invented in 1930 by Leona Chalmers. A quick search of the history of menstrual cups makes me extremely glad I live in this generation. Women had to deal with some very sub par products (cotton wrapped on a stick anyone? Douching? Menstrual extraction sessions?? no thank you). Many believe that the cup has become so much more appealing now because the world we live in today is at a crisis point environmentally. There have been many studies on the environmental impact of feminine hygiene. It is estimated a woman will use between 8000 to 12000 tampons in her lifetime, thats just tampons! What about pads, and liners? There are many issues with the environmental impact and you can read further here, but here are my top 6 reasons why I've decided to give the cup a chance.
1. The oceans are filled with products! Tampon applicators are one of the biggest issues. When women flush these (why would you??), they don't break down and end up on beaches or in animal bellies. Pads wash up on beaches as well, all kinds of sea and land animals are ingesting tampons and dying.
2. Health risks. Tampons are bleached and filled with chemicals which can cause TSS (toxic shock syndrome). You can purchase organic tampons such as Toms, which have removed such chemicals, but they still create waste. (Also did you know the chlorine bleaching process that is used to make these products look “cleaner” or more sanitary; produces dioxin, the toxin of Agent Orange and Love Canal fame, which builds up in the fat cells of our bodies over time- wtf!!).
3. The major environmental impact comes from the glue created for the liners and pads- This energy and factory use is a major contributor to pollution. Also think about all the Sanitary bins that need to be collected, cleaned, replaced. There are some reusable pads available such as Glad Rags which eliminate this waste, but pads just are not my thing.
4. The cotton farming. A tampon is 80% cotton, the intense farming requires fertiliser, pesticides and large amounts of water.
5. Cost effective- How annoying is it that we pay tax on feminine hygiene products? Tampons, plus pads and liners can cost you anywhere from $15- $30 a month. That could be $180-$360 a year, $7200- $14,400 possibly in a period lifetime.
6. Convenience. You can leave it in for 12 hours. Tampons need to be changed every 4 to 8 hours, depending on your flow. But cups can stay in longer, so they’re good for overnight protection. And once you get the hang of inserting it, there’s no need to wear a backup pad or liner. And how amazing to not have to worry about leakage, and changing tampons in and out all the time.
I came across my moon cup through Instagram, a page called @thestonedchrysaliis which, is a feminist site that embraces all things about the female body and sells menstrual cups (amongst many other crazy things!). I purchased two sizes, the small and the medium. Her website has instructions on how to use the cups, but didn't physically come with any so I did some quick googling. There are many ways to fold the cup, but the favoured ones seem to be the "c fold", "7 fold" and "punch down".
There are many ways to fold and insert, its all about practice and a lot of patience. Anyways, I decided to try the "C" fold, using the larger cup as this was a "heavy" day and is also recommended for women who have had children. Now- a little side note. I'm not good at this type of thing, and I must admit my anxiety levels were a little high. The first thing all instructions seem to say is "relax the vaginal muscles" .... I obviously wasn't doing this, as the C fold just wasn't going in. It's like my vagina, shuts itself up and said "no effing way sister". So, I take a deep breath. Try the "7 fold", lift one leg up and use my other hand to open the lips. (P.s I know this is weird for some people to read about, its even weird for me to describe my vaginal lips and opening them up to you, but I'm trying to be open minded mature here).
Okay- it's going in! I am at this time staring myself down in the mirror, with mild shock passing across my face. It seems to be going in, yep okay time to release the fold. AH, OUCH, MF. So, it is completely normal for it to "spring open", I don't think I was prepared for it, and it gave a little sharp sting. This reminded me of the internal prodding during labour... eh.
Okay, I've done it. Feeling successful, I walked out to the lounge area where Wylie was eating his breakfast, none the wiser that I had achieved something so major. But wait, this does not feel right. It felt like when you don't have a tampon in properly. Pushing uncomfortably on your tender insides, everything I read said I shouldn't feel it at all. So now a mild panic races through me, I knew I had to get it out. Back to the bathroom.
This is where things got real tricky. I put my fingers up there and felt the bottom of the cup instantly it certainly wasn't high enough. I started to pull. As I'm pulling it, I realise the cup is now open, and not folded smaller. I looked at myself in the mirror as I pulled, having flashbacks of child birth (this is clearly not as big as a baby, I know that, but mentally Im freaking out). I keep pulling and I feel it moving down. In my panic, I forgot to pinch the bottom to break the seal, so as it came out there was another little pop sound and some more sharp pain. I was impressed to see it was doing the job though, no blood on the outside, sitting neatly inside the cup. I poured it down the sink and washed the cup. I was thinking of giving it another try, when my hands became tingly and my eyes blurred. Fuck- I'm going to faint! A cold shiver ran down my spine and a cold sweat broke out on my forehead. I sat on the toilet not sure what was about to happen, and tried to take some big breaths.
The dizziness faded and I stood up feeling shaky. I think because of my birth with Wylie which was a little traumatic for me, I must have had some PTSD or something. I put the cup away and got out the trusty tampon and liner. It's been two cycles since this and I am now ready to give it a go again. I think it is important to keep trying but also take your time and don't rush into it. Trying new things is always a little scary, but the I feel the benefits will outweigh this trial period.
So, whilst my first experience wasn't the best, I am going to try again and I highly recommend any lady friend to try as well. If you have tried or have any tips comment below!
Please, do your research online or with your doctor first. Being informed is always the way. There are some amazing youtube tutorials and loads of information on the internet. Ill leave some of my favourite links below.
This clip is amazing! It's a lengthy one but well worth the watch and super funny.
This young lady is so mature, and really knowledgeable. Endless videos to watch,