Dispelling The Mystery Around Menstrual Cups
by Justine C. Tajonera
I got introduced to menstrual cups last year after reading about feminine hygiene product waste on PCIJ: A Feminine Challenge. My friend, Jenny, who owns Mama.Baby.Love (an online store) posted the link alongside reusable products that could take the place of disposable feminine pads. I got curious about menstrual cups. After some research, I realized that these products are safe (vs. tampons and even disposable feminine pads...because you're not exposed to bacteria build-up that happens in products with cotton), they are environmentally friendly (my favorite part about them), and many women around the world are already using them. In fact, I saw lots of forums and blogs dedicated to menstrual cups.
However, here in the Philippines, I hardly know anyone who uses menstrual cups. That's why I'm really advocating the use of it locally. Among people I know, they grimace when I tell them about using a menstrual cup.
But there's really not much to grimace about. Using a menstrual cup is much more hygienic than using a feminine pad! While it might sound like it involves a lot of effort...it's actually so easy to use as long as you get over your squeamishness about touching your own body. :-) Read about the benefits I personally experienced below.
So there. There's no mystery around using a menstrual cup. You just need to get used to your own body.
My first menstrual cup: The Lunette Clear Size 2
|Photo from the Lunette.com website|
Putting it in
Apparently, you need to fold the cup before putting it in your cervix. Here's a link to folding instructions and techniques from MenstrualCupInfo (a well-known blog about menstrual cups). The fold that worked for me was the punch-down fold. Unlike a tampon, the menstrual cup sits low on the cervix, so you don't really need to push it that far in. I felt some discomfort but nothing that I hadn't experienced before with a tampon.
|Picture from Menstrual-cups.livejournal.com.|
Taking it out
This was the part that I found a bit difficult. You see, the menstrual cup needs a bit of vacuum to seal it in (and gather your menstrual flow). To remove it, you need some vaginal muscle exercise (or what they call Kegels exercise) and you need to break the suction first. You shouldn't tug on it or else it will hurt. You need to move it from side to side, break the suction and then pull on the tab at the base to remove the cup.
I was worried that I might not be able to do this in the toilet when I needed to empty the cup on a heavy day. I didn't have to worry too much. After some practice, I realized that it's not so hard after all.
Do you realize that you use thousands and thousands of feminine pads during your lifetime? All of these are non-biodegradable (similar to diapers). When I thought of making the change from feminine pads to menstrual cups, I wasn't even thinking about the savings, I was only thinking about the planet. The upside to using menstrual cups is that you can use them up to ten (10) years! That's thousands of pesos in terms of disposable pads.
The Big Benefits
The biggest benefit for me was not contributing to non-biodegradable trash in landfills. Apart from that, I had other benefits:
- Not having to empty my cup for hours at a time. In fact, I could keep it on for 12 hours straight (a good night's sleep without having to worry about leaks). I just use a reusable panty liner to avoid leaks on a heavy day. So far...hardly any leaks at all.
- No smell at all. Not like using feminine pads.
- Being able to swim, play sports and exercise without worrying about my period.
- Being able to measure my flow. The cup I was using can hold up to 23 ml. So, every time I emptied my cup, I could measure my flow.
- Being more attuned to my body. Doing the Kegels exercise and being able to measure my menstrual flow made me more aware of my own body and where my cervix is. That's a good thing for a woman!
Recently, Jenny of Mama.Baby.Love sent me a sample of a new menstrual cup called The MeLuna and it's fantastic! I actually researched this before and told Jenny about it and now it's here in the Philippines. This menstrual cup uses thermoplastic elastometer or TPE (unlike other cups that use medical grade silicone) but is just as safe as those made from medical grade silicone.
I've read about MeLuna on other menstrual cup sites and a lot of the reviewers really respect MeLuna for continuously improving their product. They are the only company that makes different types of tabs at the end of the cups. They have the following choices: ball, tab, ring, and no tab at all. Apart from this, they also made a "soft" version of their product based on consumer feedback.
The one I used looks like the one in the picture below.
|Picture taken from the MeLuna Canada site.|
The ring at the end of the cup is really, really helpful in pulling out the cup. Also, I'm not sure if I'm using the classic or the soft version but it feels a lot softer than the one from Lunette. I hardly know it's there at all after inserting the cup!
If you're interested about Menstrual Cups, check out Jenny's store: Mama.Baby.Love. They're sold for Php 900 to Php 1,680, depending on what brand and what size you choose.