Illustration by Jim Cooke
When I first heard about menstrual cups (or moon cups as I like to call them) a few years ago, I thought they sounded INSANE. ‘You put the cup where? And it does what?!’ A friend described to me what they are and how they work and I thought yep, that’s going on the list of things I’m never going to do. Fast forward a couple of years, these little cups come across my path yet again via more rave reviews from another friend, and I thought okay, maybe there is something to this moon cup madness after all.
The more I read up about them, the more intrigued and excited I got to try it out for myself! I did some research and brought one online. Once it arrived I eagerly awaited for my next period to start so I could finally take this thing for a spin. Little did I know one of the pros of the moon cup is that you can practise using it when you don’t have your period, but more on that further down!
So finally my period came, and I tried the cup. It was surprisingly easier to insert then I had imagined and so comfortable, as in, I couldn’t feel it at all! This was a newfound dream as we can always obviously feel when we are wearing pads and I always felt uncomfortable when I used tampons, but the cup…I could not feel in the slightest.
Safe to say I LOVED using the cup immediately and have never looked back. It is the only thing I have used for my period for the past 3 years and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
That has been my positive experience with using a moon cup, now lets get into some more nitty gritty info on why they are my period product of choice and all the other pros they have going for them.
What actually is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups (or moon cups) are a fantastic alternative to regular sanitary pads and tampons. The cup works by collecting blood rather than absorbing it as a pad or tampon would.
What else do moon cups have going for them?
One ginormous plus of a moon cup is they hold more blood then a pad or tampon, so you have longer intervals of time before needing to empty it. Most brands of moon cups recommend no longer then 8-12 hour periods without emptying. This means less trips to the bathroom and less worries about leaking through a pad or tampon.
Moon cups are also good for mumma earth. Cups are environmentally friendly as there is NO repreated monthly waste of packets/plastic to dispose of and they can last up to 10 years. You buy one and that’s it. You also never have to worry about being caught out with not enough pads or tampons with you, which I find especially handy when travelling.
Moon cups do not absorb your cervical fluid or natural lubrication, there is no dryness or pain on insertion, which can often be a problem with tampons. There also is no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (unlike tampons) as the cups are made from medical grade silicone and not a breeding ground for bacteria.
Using a moon cup reduces your exposure to pesticides. All generic pads and tampons use cotton that have been heavily sprayed with pesticdes and bleached, and you better believe that we can abosrb these unwanted chemicals internally through our skin, especially with tampons. If you use pads or tampons, I encourage you to make the switch to an organic brand like Tom Organics to redcue your exposure. Better yet using a moon cup you never have to worry about that again!
Moon cups help you become more in tune with your cycle and your body. They make it easier for you to observe any changes in colour, consistency and flow of your period, which can all be different indicators of the state of your reproductive system and overall health.
How often do you need to empty it?
Most women find they need to empty their moon cup only a couple of times per day. As each woman’s body and period is unique, the number of times you empty your cup per day can vary. After using the moon cup for a couple of cycles you will soon learn what works best for your body. I recommend wearing a thin pad or a liner when you first start using a moon cup to prevent any leaks while you’re getting used to using your cup and how frequently you need to empty it.
Is it expensive?
A menstrual cup costs around $40. This is a once off expense for a product you will own for years. This is opposed to paying for pads and tampons every month for decades!
How do you clean it?
Clean with warm soapy water after removing the cup and before re-inserting. If you are in a public toilet, wiping with a tissue is fine and you can clean it properly when you get home. There is also the option of boiling your menstrual cup at home in a (dedicated) pot between periods to give it a thorough clean.
How to use your cup
It may take a bit of practise to get the hang of inserting and removing a menstrual cup.
It is a good idea to practise inserting and removing it when you don’t have your period. As it doesn’t absorb your cervical fluid, it won’t feel irritating inserting and removing a couple of times to practise getting it in the right position covering your cervix. This is great preparation for the big day when you finally get to use it with your period!
Once inserted correctly, you cannot feel the menstrual cup as it is flexible and moulds to your body. To insert, the cup is folded and then pops open once in place to cover your cervix. To remove, pinch the base of the cup and give it a little wriggle and pull (make sure your pelvic floor muscles are relaxed – breathe) then it will slide out. Baring down with your pelvic floor can also help to push it down, I find this easiest to do in a position like a yogi squat! Importantly, when removing the cup, be sure to keep it upright so it does not spill.
Rest assured all moon cups come with instructions and diagrams showing different methods for insertion and removal so you don’t have to go through this alone!
I have been using a menstrual cup for 3 years now and can’t see myself ever going back to pads or tampons. It is life changing and when you start using one too, you will see why!
Do you use a menstrual cup? Are you thinking about it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below.