Over two years ago I wrote a post all about why I bought a menstrual cup and why I thought every period-having individual should join me and give them a try. I spoke about how it pretty much trumped every other product out there for me in terms of looking after my health, my wallet and the planet. And man did it go down well. Since hesitantly pressing publish – “people from my secondary school follow me on here…Won’t they think I’m a hippie weirdo?” – that post has had over 6,000 views. It remains my most popular one to date.
Who knew that so many of you were also tired of pad rash and pulling out half-dry tampons?
However, when I wrote that post I hadn’t actually used the cup yet. I was in love with it in theory, but was yet to get used to the practicalities. So, I thought I’d come back, riding the coat tails of that first post’s success, to give you a bit of a cup update. A cupdate, if you will. Spoiler alert: I’m still, and probably always will be, a fan of the menstrual cup. It is my silicone queen! But it’s not all “cycling through a sun-filled park in white shorts to a soundtrack of 90s R&B”. Whilst using a menstrual cup definitely has it’s many, many benefits, it also has some downfalls.
I’m not here to be a walking, talking and blogging advert for using a cup (though, granted, I do sound like that 90% of the time). I’m here to be honest with you about my own experiences so that you can figure out if it’s for you.
Let’s have a chat about the pros and cons, my friends.
It’s an expensive investment at first
Whilst it’s all good and well harping on about just how much money a menstrual cup can save you over a lifetime, that doesn’t negate from the fact that most of them cost upwards of £15 initially. Some people just can’t, or don’t want to, spend so much money on period products when it could be going on something like food or rent or anything they’d rather put their cash towards.
Period poverty is a huge problem throughout the world, including here in the UK. So, expecting people to pay more than a tenner for menstrual products isn’t always fair.
Public toilets are…interesting
Most of the time, I don’t have to change my cup whilst out and about since it can stay in for 8 hours. But, those days that I do, it’s always a bit of a lottery.
If I find one of those public rest rooms that has its own sink, paper towels and the toilet in one handy room, I dance for joy. If it’s one with shared sinks, it makes the whole thing a bit more tricky. Ideally, I’d like to be able to rinse of my cup and wash my hands in private, thank you very much. But sometimes baby wipes just have to do.
It’s less convenient
Well, sort of.
In a lot of ways having a cup is more convenient (you don’t have to do that stressful run to Tesco when you realise you’ve run out for pads and you don’t have to keep a million spares in your bag when you leave the house), but you also can’t just throw it away when you’re done with it. At the end and beginning of my period I completely clean and disinfect it, so it does take a tad more effort than conventional products.
It can be hard to insert
Some people find inserting a menstrual cup really tricky and never get the hang of it. I was able to nail it with time, but that’s not the case for everyone.
You have to touch your vagina and your blood
Although it’s not personally a problem for me, I know that some people prefer products that mean they don’t have to physically touch their blood.
In the long run, it’s much, much cheaper
If the average woman spend £10 a month on period related products, that’s £120 a year, meaning a saving of about £100 when you invest in a cup. That’s money you can spend on other, more important things, like chocolate and nice smelling candles.
It’s way more comfy than conventional sanitary products
Sanitary pads always gave me a rash on my thighs and tampons hurt like hell if I took them out and they weren’t completely full, but the menstrual cup gives me neither of those problems. In fact, I barely remember it’s there most of the time.
I change it less frequently
My cup only needs to be emptied and rinsed roughly every 8 hours on a heavy day. That means that I get to forget about it most of the time and get on with my life. It’s especially handy for travelling, as I said in this post.
I get to feel self-righteous about it
Every time I’m on my period I feel proud that I’m not contributing to our world’s already massive plastic problem. Conventional sanitary products obviously can’t be recycled, but do often contain types of plastic, so the menstrual cup is a much more eco-friendly alternative.
I feel more in tune with my body
Whilst the idea of touching your period blood puts a lot of people off, it’s really helped me to feel like I know my body better. It’s also handy to be able to measure exactly how heavy your period is (most cups have ml marks on the side) not only for the sake of knowing yourself, but in case your doctor or nurse needs to know at some point.