For you AND the environment!
My journey with a menstrual cup started a few years after my first period when I was only 16. I had been experiencing really heavy flow since the beginning and had had my fair share of leaks, stains and ruined underwear. Nothing felt comfortable. Either a pad was too small and had to be changed every hour or it was too large and felt like a giant diaper. And don’t even get me started on tampons. Even the huge ones were rendered completely useless against my powerful flow.
However, while perusing the pads and tampons aisle at the grocery store one day, I came across the Menstrual Cup. I hesitantly grabbed its hot pink packaging and asked my never-shave-above-the-knee, has-only-ever-worn-pads mom if I could try it out. Unsurprisingly, she said no, and this triggered a lengthy “my body my decision” argument that I unfortunately lost. But, months later, I went to school and a friend was talking about her Menstrual Cup. She loved hers and after hearing more about it, I decided that I would try again. The next time I went on that monthly trip for ~lady products~ I put up a harder fight and my mother reluctantly agreed to let me try out a menstrual cup.
When I got home, I was excited to try it out. My excitement came more so from a place of spiting my mother than wanting to relieve the discomfort I was experiencing. However, my victory was undermined as I sat on the toilet, with my hands covered in my own blood, sweating profusely, and on the verge of tears because It. Just. Wouldn’t. Go. In. It took several attempts, a lot of frustrated self-encouragement, and an awkward phone call to my friend just to get the cup up there. But when it finally slipped in, it wasn’t even that comfortable. In fact, I came out of the toilet walking kind of funny and couldn’t bear to have the cup in for longer than an hour. This was not what I was expecting.
I don’t know if I was fuelled by my mother’s disapproval or my frustration with other period products, but I kept trying to use the cup by increasing my wear-time over several days. By the end of that cycle, I already felt much more comfortable with it. It completely changed the way I menstruated, and I have been using it ever since.
I realize that the beginning of this entry has been very personal and not at all related to the environment. But, transitioning to a menstrual cup is more intimate than just switching from plastic to metal straws. It’s not just about the environment and I know that when I first made the change, I wasn’t even thinking about that. So, know that no matter your motivation, switching to a menstrual cup can be challenging, but you are doing an amazing thing. And if you want to learn just what a menstrual cup can do for you AND the environment keep reading!
1. Menstrual cups create less waste:
Women generally menstruate for 40 years and use more than 11000 pads and tampons in this time (Mosbergen, 2018). This means that in any given year more than 100 billion blood soaked menstrual papers are tossed away along side their colourful plastic and cardboard packaging (Mosbergen, 2018). These products are non-recyclable and can’t be safely thrown in the toilet which means they just end up in landfills or embedded in our ocean floors. On the other hand, menstrual cups can last anywhere from 1-5 years depending on how you maintain them and only require soap and water to clean them! This means that by using a cup you are contributing to less garbage in our landfills and cleaner oceans.
2. Menstrual cups are more economic:
It has been estimated that women spend roughly $150 on pads and tampons in a year (Mah, 2019). However, one menstrual cup usually costs anywhere from $20-$40 and it can be used for up to 5 years. This means that in 3 years, by using a menstrual cup, you can save $400! So, if you are a woman who struggles to afford basic pads and tampons, saving for a menstrual cup can actually be very economical.
3. You can’t properly dispose of pads and tampons:
Menstrual cups are typically made from medical-grade silicone which makes them easily recyclable and thus very ecofriendly. Pads and tampons on the other hand, are full of plastic and are not bio-degradable or recyclable, and it could take up to 800 years for these products to decompose (Mosbergen, 2018). What’s even worse is that when these products are burned in landfills, they can release toxic fumes that only further contribute to their footprint (Mosbergen, 2018).
4. You can wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours!
This is what really had me sold on the product. These cups are so big and so well suctioned inside of you that they can be leak proof for up to 12 hours. This is AMAZING compared to pads and tampons which can leak within a few short hours. They also have a much lower risk of toxic shock compared to tampons because of the material they are made from. To be honest, on my lighter days, I have been known to wear my cup for 24 hours… I just forget it’s there! You can also remove it in the shower (my preferred method) to avoid a mess in the toilet. It is not, however, impossible to remove it in public! I have definitely done that before too.
5. Removing and reinserting the cup is actually easy once you get the hang of it!
Once you get the hang of inserting and removing the cup, it gets much easier. Your body will get used to the size of the cup and as you use it more often, it will become more and more painless to insert and remove. So, don’t be scared if the first time you put it on, it feels like it’s ripping your ~insides~ apart. Just wear it for as long as you can tolerate it and see if you can slowly increase your wear-time!
Every woman’s journey through their cycle is different, but not one woman’s journey is easy. It can be incredibly painful, emotional, and uncomfortable to menstruate. To every woman who just tolerates it every month, I applaud you. No matter how you get through it, either with pads, tampons, cups, or thick underwear you are doing amazing and should never be subjected to judgment for the products you use. However, if you are looking for an alternative, consider a menstrual cup. It really can change your life and the footprint you leave on our planet.
Mah, Jeanne. “Ladies, Here’s how Much your Period Costs you Over your Lifetime”. Dollars and Sense, 27 June 2019. Internet. https://dollarsandsense.sg/ladies-heres-much-period-costs-lifetime/
Mosbergen, Dominique. “5 Ways to Make your Period Better for the Environment”. Huffington Post, 12 December 2018. Internet. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/plastic-free-tampons-pads_n_5c0e88a6e4b06484c9fce988?ri18n=true&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAC6WjAIam72i1CXusN1TD6I9f2cbNmhNm09LCz70mXLtGytNklHABspoALtgYbggsYob71Z4a8TMYU96f_100eXkoRc3YMPrqDJqevWuMKLdLas68Ru1W6ntM3Lx8uptusnNub2cqN34iGUBu-8iFW3VvlQFmQo1RNFMPleh3ot2