There are so many reasons I love using a menstrual cup and why I recommend it to others. Menstrual cups are better for the environment, cost less money over time, and don’t expose you to toxic chemicals like many other “feminine hygiene” products. (They’ve been in use since the 1930s, and for good reason!) These arguments are not really in question. When I meet somebody who is hesitant to try menstrual cups, they don’t need convincing that they lower your carbon footprint or are easier on the wallet. The biggest reservation people have about using menstrual cups is interacting with their periods in a hands-on way.
Disposable tampons and pads have conditioned us to create a mental and emotional link between our periods and the trash can. They are literally called “sanitary” devices — our period blood rots in a trash can while our vaginas are sanitized by bleached cotton mini-dildos. We are all familiar with the unmistakable smell of a tampon that has been sitting in a public toilet trashcan for too long. And for those of us that have experienced cleaning public bathrooms, it is not a pleasant encounter. As a whole, we prefer to close our eyes, yank it out, wrap it around a fuckton of tissue paper and throw it in the trash. Applicators, for example, are designed for us to have a hands-free experience inserting our tampon. No fuss, no mess.
Well, I’m here to say yes to the mess! I take care of my menstrual cup, I wash it with soap and water and leave it to dry on a shelf. I carry it in a small closing pouch, and once in a while I actually boil it in the same pot that I make pasta in. I love seeing how much blood it has collected throughout the day, and I love that while it collects my blood, it doesn’t dry out my vagina. I respect the effort and ritual it takes me to put it in and take it out. It is an opportunity to check in with myself and get just a little bit more hands-on with my body.
Some practical things you might want to keep in mind:
- Menstrual cups are made from medical grade non-porous silicone
- You can wear yours up to 12 hours in a row, for up to 10 years with proper care (these are guidelines, not hard rules)
- Wash it with warm water and gentle soap between uses. You can boil it for 5-10 minutes between cycles for extra cleanliness.
- (I get asked this question a lot) If you do not have access to a sink and want to change your cup, simply take it out, dump out the blood (in the toilet or in nature), and wipe it clean with toilet paper before reinserting. Wash it at the next convenient time.
- It takes some practice. Don’t be discouraged. You can use a bit of water-based lubricant, cocoa butter, or coconut/almond oil to insert it if it makes the process more comfortable. (I just saw that the Diva Cup website recommends against this but I am for it as long as you don’t use silicone-based lubes as they will degrade the cup).
- Menstrual cups are safe to use with an IUD.
- For more FAQs, you can check out this cute Menstrual Cup Advice page.
In conclusion, menstrual cups are awesome. Still don’t believe me? Just ask Buzzfeed or Bustle. I own a Diva Cup, which I bought for $25 dollars 5 years ago on Amazon. Diva cups come with a cute little cup-sized travel pouch that says “Diva” all over it (*swoons*). I would also recommend buying a Ruby Cup, which come in all sorts of fun colors and have the added benefit of being a social impact business – whenever you buy one, the company donates another to a girl in Eastern Africa. Period on!