menstrual cups: the third option
I have been wanting to write this article for some time now. Then, when I noticed the recent lip article ‘healthy bytes: pads vs. tampons’, I felt the time was nigh. In that article, the author notes the importance of learning about the hows, whys and whats of pads and tampons, ‘since we all use them (apart from a few outliers perhaps)’. Well, I hereby present myself as one of those outliers.
Before we go on, yes I am a woman. And yes, there is a third option.
Now I’m going to ask you all to keep an open mind, because what I’m going to describe next may sound a little gross. Heck, if every one of the women I have talked to about this, bar one or maybe two, are any judge, then it’s going to sound completely repulsive. (As an aside, oddly enough I have found less revulsion in the males I have talked to than the females. Odd indeed, yet I have my theories as to why, that I shall briefly go into later.)
They’re called menstrual cups, and I first heard about them when I was on the toilet in one of the bathrooms in my university’s library. There was a sticker advertising the ‘mooncup’, one particular brand of menstrual cup. Along with it could be seen the usual bathroom trash talk: a couple of women commenting on how great the cup is, a few more exclaiming their horror at the very thought. ‘But what is the thought?’, you may well ask. Well, for those of you out there who have not heard of them before (you unfortunate lot, I dare to say), here’s how it works.
Though there are a number of different brands out there, as there are with pads and tampons, the basic idea is the same. Menstrual cups are made from a flexible plastic material and are inserted into the vagina (by hand, in a similar fashion to the way you would a tampon) in order to ‘catch’ your menstrual blood. After a period of time, you remove the cup, empty it out and put it back in, ready to go again.
The reason, it seems, that many people find this process so nauseating (despite the many benefits, that, worry not, I will list below), is that you are forced to come face to face with your own blood – blood from the vagina, no less! – in liquid form. Then, you have to pour it out and see it trickle down the drain. How horrific, indeed.
I’m not going to make this an article about why I think women are taught to feel an irrational disgust for their menstrual blood, so I will keep this short. Men have no such qualms in dealing with their own particular liquid emissions, and while of course it’s not the same thing, I would argue that it’s not really so different (this is perhaps one of the reasons why the men who’ve been made aware of the cup by this writer, have not had a reaction to the same degree that women have. They haven’t had to grow up feeling that the worst thing in the world would be for their semen to be seen by anyone. They haven’t had to buy hygienic products every month that protect them from having to touch their semen, or even see it in its liquid form…).
If you disagree with the preceding paragraph, which I’m sure many will, ignore it at will. As it states, the point of this article is not explore period-hatred, but rather, the wonders of the menstrual cup!
So, without further ado, here are the pros and cons of this most marvelous little device:
- Not only are they rather inexpensive, but one menstrual cup will last you for a few years. That’s serious money saving, right there. You can’t argue with that.
- Because they are reusable, by using them rather than pads or tampons, you are reducing waste. Cups are environmentally friendly!
- They can be worn for longer periods of time than tampons. So, you are able to wear the cup to bed without spillage and at a lesser risk to your health and hygiene.
- They are completely invisible from the outside. That’s right – none of those worries about anyone catching a glimpse of wings on your underpants, or a stray string. You can wear these suckers without a stitch of clothing on, and no one will know any differently!
- No chance of your dog or cat going for a rummage in your bin and spilling old tampons and pads around the place. Come on, now that is just a little gross.
- The aforementioned thing about having to see the blood of your womb.
OTHER GOOD THINGS (that’s right, there’s more!)
- Like tampons, they can’t be felt when inserted properly
- You only need to give them a proper clean once a month, after your period is over. While your period is going, you only have to rinse the cup out with water after emptying it out and before putting it back in.
If this hasn’t convinced you, I’d like to ask one thing. What is your final point of contention? And no, don’t just say, ‘But it’s so gross…’ Pads are gross. Tampons are gross. The only difference is that you have become used to them because they are the mainstream choice endorsed by society.
I have honestly come to feel that the menstrual cup is the least gross option, quite apart from the fact that it is cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and so on. Not only this, but I will happily admit to having found a real feeling of affection for my menstrual cup.
Last week I returned to that same bathroom where the ad for the mooncup was still stuck firmly to the back of the toilet door. I added my own words to a spare bit of white space down the bottom: ‘I have a fleurcup – it’s GREAT!’(Image credit: 1) So, ladies, what do you think? Will you give the menstrual cup a go? Tell us your thoughts below!