The Menstrual Cup. Something For Me, Something For The Planet.
This might not come as news to you because I have written about it in the past. I am trying to improve the way I consume things, to cut down on plastic, to live in a way it won’t make me ashamed. One of the rather sensitive topics when it comes to cutting down plastic is the type of menstrual products I use.
Here is a gruesome approximation.
Depending on a woman’s menstrual cycle, she can use up to a whole package of pads a month. Multiply that by 12 or 13 and you get over 120 sanitary pads a year. These all end up on the landfill. And they are usually not biodegradable because oh, remember how they absorb and retain fluid so you won’t get a stain on your pure white trousers, well that is because they contain plastic. So no, using sanitary pads it’s not ok for the planet.
You might think ‘Ok, but internal tampons, those seem very much made of cotton, so … biodegradable, right?’.
While that is true in most of the cases, they usually come with an applicator and individually wrapped in plastic. So … although they might be slightly better, why settle for them when there is even a greener alternative out there?
From different types of pads, including reusable ones, to internal tampons, I have tried them all. In my 30s I have become very environmentally aware. And with that came an exhaustive search for a good alternative to the everyday pads that I’ve been using my entire life.
100% biodegradable pads
They are ok, do their job properly, seem a bit fresher than the standard ones I was used to. But still … I couldn’t shake off that feeling that I am still producing much more waste than I should. I put them on hold and moved on with my search.
Although they are zero waste and feel quite smooth, they are thick and I always had a diaper feel. To that, I add the gross-factor because, let’s face it, as much as menstrual blood is my blood, if I can avoid washing them, I will. So no.
The menstrual cup
I heard about this strange thing before our trip through Asia. The humidity and heat there made me think this might be a good option. It goes in and stays there for longer than conventional tampons. It’s more hygienic and it reduces waste to zero.
But I was too much of a chicken stuck in my old ways to try it. When it comes to my VGG I am quite conservative. Soon after, I heard it from the mouth of someone who uses it: ‘This thing is great, you should try it.’ She was very enthusiastic so she kind of convinced me.
What about the menstrual cup?
This thing is a bell-shape medical silicone thing you stick in your VGG to collect the menstrual fluid. Depending on how abundant it is, you take it out every 5-8-12 hours, clean it with water and stick it back in. When you are done with it, you boil it to disinfect. Of course, an important aspect is that your hands need to be clean every time you do the taking-out/putting-it-back-in thing.
I bought mine for £15 online but you can find it in most drug stores under various prices.
Being eco-friendly is all great stuff but how does it truly feel?
I have to say, after buying it, I did keep it on the shelf for a whole month because I still didn’t dare to use it. It seemed too bloody big to fit in. But then … ‘oh well, here goes nothing.’
If put in correctly, you don’t feel it. At-freakin-all. I know. I was shocked too. It took me about two times to put it in like I was supposed to. One thing that apparently freaks the hell out of everybody is that you might not be able to get it out. Well, as a person who went through the same fear, I found my answer here. Kidding. But that helped a little too. It showed me that if women can joke about this, it means it’s not such a big deal.
Now seriously, when the cup fills, it tends to slide down a little and it makes it easier to get it out. Also, you can push it out by contracting your cervical muscles. Just make sure you have emptied your bowels before. 🙂
Another great thing I found about the cup is that it doesn’t usually leak. Again, if you want to be 100% sure you avoid that, you can use panty liners in the beginning. I haven’t. I survived.
I am sorry I haven’t tried it before. I will definitely stick with it. Granted it takes a little courage to try it simply because it’s very dissimilar to anything we are used to like women but I think it’s worth it. Give it a go. You won’t regret it and the planet will thank you.