Talking about menstrual cups in detail is definitely a post that I’ve been putting off. In my Zero Waste Alternatives list, I mentioned menstrual cups and reusable pads as zero waste alternatives to disposable feminine products. But talking about it in detail was not something that I wanted to do. Yesterday, I read an article in the New York Times that talked about a remote area in Nepal where women are exiled during their time of the month because menstruation is considered taboo and bad luck. It made me realize how hypocritical we all are. We sympathize with these women and wish that there could be a more open-minded mindset when it comes to menstruation But whenever I try to bring up the menstrual cup with my girlfriends, the response I usually get is “ew”.
I don’t blame them for thinking that the concept menstrual cup is “gross” or “unsanitary”. But after using it myself, I realized that could not be farther from the truth. Here is a short list of the benefits of using the menstrual cup:
- Environmentally friendly – no waste!
- Reduce your risk of TSS
- No odor!
- Will not disturb vaginal pH
- Less frequent changing – only change once every 12 hours
- Save $$$ – one-time investment to last a lifetime
Switching from pads and tampons to the menstrual cup was one of my last zero waste switches. I did a ton of research on the menstrual cup, and most people say that in order to use it, you have to be very comfortable with your body and be okay with touching yourself down under. I was not sexually active when I first switched to a zero waste lifestyle, so the thought about inserting something that is 3x the width of a tampon was frightening to me. So I decided that I was not going to switch to using the menstrual cup until after I was married and sexually active.
The first month that I was using the menstrual cup, I had about 3 pads and 2 tampons in my stash left. I was not intending on buying more disposable feminine products, so I had to get the process down quick.
I decided to purchase the LENA cup for the following reasons:
- Recyclable packaging
- Made in USA and FDA registered
The LENA cup is quite stiff in comparison to other brands, and I think that is really good for a beginner because when you insert the cup, you have to run your index finger around to rim to ensure that the cup popped open and created a seal. That was daunting to me. But because the LENA cup is stiff, it pops open all the time for me, so the first month when I was using it and I was scared to check for the seal, it still sealed for me.
Here are the 3 possible folds you can do with a menstrual cup. I have tried all 3, but found the most success with the punch-down, because the tip becomes about the size of a tampon, which makes it easier to insert.
The cups will all come with instructions, so I’ll skip that and discuss some tips I’ve acquired.
- When inserting, I found it to be the most comfortable if I put one foot on the toilet or the side of the bathtub.
- Since your vaginal canal is angled, make sure you don’t insert it straight up, but do it at an angle.
- When removing, if you can’t feel the tip of the cup, don’t panic. Try squatting down. The cup will slide down a little bit.
- Try Kegels (seriously!) if you have trouble removing the cup.
- Lube is your best friend if you have a hard time inserting the cup.
*If you are a virgin like I was and want to use the menstrual cup, know that it is possible. It probably will tear your hymen due to the width of the cup. But keep in mind that an intact hymen is not the definition of virginity. Many girls tear their hymens without knowing, i.e. riding a bike. This is a personal decision for you to decide :)