I decided that I would use a menstrual cup a few years ago, just before I realised I was pregnant in fact (doh). If you’re still on the cusp and need any convincing about the benefits it will make to your life and crucially our beautiful planet, read the following:
- Women produce approximately 11,000 sanitary towels in their reproductive lifetime
- Producing 200,000 tonnes of waste annually
- They ALL contain plastic
- Most pads are 90% plastic: filling landfill, where they will take years to biodegrade or worse
- End up in our rivers and oceans where they will contaminate water, sea-life and ultimately our eco-system
To put the last point in perspective:
In 2010, a UK beach clean found an average of 23 sanitary pads and 9 tampon applicators per kilometre of British coastline.
I didn’t have a ‘proper’ period postnatally until the Bean stopped breastfeeding for about half a day. This seemed to trigger their return (apparently prolactin, the hormone released when producing breast milk keeps our periods at bay as it keeps our ovaries asleep and has a bit of a contraceptive pill effect-although that said, mine seemed pretty determined to return as soon as they could 🙁 …). In fact, breastfeeding in general has meant my periods were irregular until the Bean reached 8-months. At which point I was finally able to accommodate my new -and what would become my invaluable friend- into my monthly cycle properly.
12-months+ of Mooncupping
I have now been using the Mooncup for a whole year. In this time, I’ve gone from experiencing mild anxiety before removing it (it takes a bit of practise. For me, when trying to remove it, it was opening quickly and the blood was spilling out. This did lead to a few embarrassing scenarios involving blood on my trousers, but be mindful: I am super clumsy, which will definitely make a difference) all the way to becoming, quite frankly, a bit of a pro at inserting/removing it, and avoiding aforementioned messy situations (most of the time). And I found myself falling a little more in love with the Mooncup with each passing Flo…and here’s why:
- Sustainability- I just love that it is self-contained and literally an all-in-one product that answers our needs. You need water to clean it, but that’s it.
- Longevity- It’s said to last for a very long time, upto 10-years in some cases!
- Economics- I paid £22 for mine, and I must have saved a LOT of money already by no longer buying pads
- Practicality-It’s just perfect for any kind of lifestyle : on the go or sedentary
- Transportability- I put it in its little pouch and away we go. And to date, I have not forgot to take it on my jaunts! In fact I think I’d sooner buy a second Mooncup should this happen, than buy sanitary towels again. They’re so small that they really are easy to put in your bag and GO!
- And I love the little cotton pouch all Mooncup’s come in **obviously**
The more I use it, the more I lament the amount of sanitary pads I must have sent to landfill. Why aren’t Mooncup’s (and all menstrual cups) normalised in school’s when we were young women, and being educated about menstruation.
It’s surely time that the education of women’s menstrual products and the production of waste go hand in hand together. We need to create a new dawn: the next generation of citizens to whom being sustainable is normal. Furthermore, why aren’t menstrual cups promoted more in family planning clinics and even surgery waiting rooms? It’s time for change.
What did women use before the invention and commercialisation of sanitary towels?
A brief history of menstrual pads. Extract taken from Eco Menstrual:
- Animal pelts
- Mosses (see the episode of ‘The Victorian Farm’? Moss is extremely absorbent they say!)
- Sea sponges
**Native cultures continue to use many of the above today.
Textiles: Among the poorer members of society old rags were often used – this is the origin of the term “on the rag”. Once mass manufacturing of textiles and garments became possible, as well as “more modern” laundering methods, manufactured cloth pads became available (mid 1800 to about 1940).
Also popular were underwear with built in sanitary pads, which were not unlike adult sized nappies.
Washable pads and sea sponges have been re-discovered and menstrual cups were a wonderful innovation.
The Keeper was the first to be manufactured in 1987 in latex rubber and several other companies followed suit making them in silicone rubber. (Many reported allergic reactions to latex rubber).
Women are having increasing concerns about health and awareness of environmental issues related to disposable products.
The modern tampon was developed in the early 1900s and remains the most popular disposable menstrual product today.
Size, material and packaging:
The Mooncup is available in two sizes and is made of medical grade silicone. It comes in a little cotton bag to transport it in and this is sold in a little paper box. It is said to last for as many as ten-years.
A lifestyle shift
Periods are natural. A bleached plastic sanitary towel is not. – WEN.org
The Mooncup has properly changed my life. As mentioned, the journey from the Mooncup fitting comfortably into my new routine was forestalled by some mildy tricky situations. I think I would advise you to:
- Practise inserting it to grow in confidence
- Be patient
- Get to know your Flo
I would advise practicing with the Mooncup before taking it abroad, wearing it to work, or in my case on a plane, for the very first time. Try if you can, to wear it when you’re in the house and then in places you feel most comfortable. This means you can get use to it and how it feels.
It felt funny wearing the Mooncup for the first few Aunt Flo’s, which was also distracting. I am a bit of a worry wart, plus have always suffered with very, very heavy Flo. You might even find, especially if you’ve been a tampon user (never successfully inserted one:( ) up until the point you convert to a Mooncup, that insertion is easy and you aren’t even aware it’s there.
1.Practice inserting and removing the Mooncup as it needs to be removed carefully to avoid spilling the collected blood everywhere. *TOP TIP*: When out and about try to locate a mum and baby, disabled or toilet with sink in. This is something a lot of people pointed out that they found the Mooncup awkward when there nowhere you could wash it.
2.Be patient and let your vagina get used to it. Like I said, it felt really funny for me at first. I did have an episiotomy, but not sure this would still have been affecting me 8-months on. But this ‘funny’ feeling fast disappears and I started to feel really emancipated.
3.Get to know your Flo. I realised I lost a lot more blood than I thought. (Another great reason for using a mooncup: it keeps things real. You get to see your blood loss close-up. I needed to know how often to empty it (this will inevitably be different for each individual) and until I got used to it there were a few incidents of leakag. I simply got to understand my Flo and when it would peak-generally day 2 and 3 would be really full-on.
ONE MORE BENEFIT:
If you were previously a sanitary towel user, think how often you would change them and how many you would need to carry around with you. The Mooncup is small, discreet and you can leave it in for upto 8-hours if it suits your Flo!
A very brief history of the Mooncup landing and other fun facts:
- Mooncup was founded in 2002 by two friends Su and Eileen
- In 2017 the Mooncup is available in 50 countries
- The first store to stock the Mooncup was Infinity in Brighton
- The Mooncup won the award for Best Non Food product at The Natural Trade show in 2003
- In 2003 word spreads across Europe about the Mooncup and grassroots movements in Spain promote its use
- Due to customer demands, Boots starts to stock the Mooncup
- In 2006 Mooncup received its first full-page news coverage in the Times
- The Love your Vagina campaign hits the London Underground creating an impressive social media buzz in 2010
- Mooncup became employee owned in 2014
Some interesting links for further reading: