Before learning about a zero waste life, the idea of using a menstrual cup terrified me.
I thought people who used one were odd and I never, ever, even considered buying one until a few months ago.
But here I am, using a Lunette Cup every month and I’m never looking back.
Women will use, on average, 11,000 tampons/pads in our lifetime. Most pads and tampons contain non-recyclable plastic that ends up in landfills or sometimes in the ocean.
Not to mention, women are expected to pay a TON of money on products like tampons, pads and panty liners.
I understand the idea of switching to a menstrual cup is freaky to some people. But here are the pros and cons of using menstrual cups and why you should really consider investing in a little silicone cup!
HERE’S WHAT WON ME OVER
1. IT’S COST EFFECTIVE.
Seriously. I did the math.
So, I use the Lunette Cup. It cost me about $40 and lasts around 5 years.
A box of tampons runs between $5-7.
Tampons shouldn’t be worn for more than 8 hours. Let’s say you wear three tampons a day and your period lasts five days. That’s 15 tampons a month.
So that’s about one box of tampons every two months (and that’s being super conservative, as lots of women have to change their tampon every couple hours). That’s around $42 in a year.
The average woman menstruates from age 13-51. For 38 years, approximately once a month, women get their period. That means women will have around 456 periods in their lifetime.
You’re talking, conservatively, spending $1,596 in tampons in your lifetime. And that’s not including panty liners and pads if you use those, too.
Menstrual cups cost $40 and are supposed to last you over 5 years. That means every 5 years you’ll spend $40 on a menstrual cup.
That’s $304 in your lifetime you’ll spend on period-related necessities, which is a savings of $1,292. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That’s insane! And those are super conservative figures, too!
Do the math — menstrual cups make more sense.
2. IT’S MORE CONVENIENT.
You can keep your menstrual cup in for 12 hours and not have to worry about toxic shock syndrome. You can sleep with your menstrual cup in safely, too.
If you’re about to start your period, you can put a menstrual cup in and not worry about it being painful or uncomfortable to take out if you haven’t started your period yet.
If you have a heavy flow, you’ll probably have to clean your cup out every few hours. Because I’m on birth control, my period is pretty average, so, depending on how long I’ve been on my period, I can get away with changing it twice a day. But you’ll have to get a feel for that yourself.
Menstrual cups undoubtedly hold more blood than tampons and pads.
Also, since there’s no string that sticks out, you don’t have to worry about getting pee on your string or pushing your tampon out when you have to take a poop.
3. IT’S SURPRISINGLY COMFORTABLE!
I find tampons comfortable, though I didn’t at first. Once I learned how to put tampons in the right way, I couldn’t even feel them when they were inside me. I feel the exact same way about menstrual cups. The first month I used my cup I struggled to put it in correctly and so it wasn’t was comfortable as it is now.
There’s a learning curve for sure, but once you get the hang of it, you really don’t even know it’s in you.
4. IT’S BETTER FOR THE EARTH!
This is pretty obvious. By not throwing away anything, you’re limiting your waste. Like I stated earlier, women use around 11,000 tampons over our lifetime. And that waste isn’t biodegradable. A lot of those tampons and pads end up in the ocean from being flushed down the toilet. Sadly, sometimes those bloody bad boys even end up in the bellies of fish. Menstrual cups are a simple way to avoid all of that!
HERE ARE A FEW BUMMERS
1. CLEANING IT IN PUBLIC ISN’T IDEAL IF YOU’RE IN A RUSH.
When you have to change your cup, you’ll want to wash it out with water before inserting it again. What most people do is keep a water bottle on them, so when they’re in a public toilet they can take their cup out, pour water in it over the toilet and then reinsert it.
It’s not as convenient in that sense as a tampon, but it’s worth it to me. And, I don’t need to change mine too often, so this drawback isn’t a game changer for me.
2. IT’S AWKWARD TO INSERT AT FIRST.
All right so here comes the part you’ve been waiting for: how in the heck do you shove that huge thing up your hoo-ha?
So glad you asked!
First of all, you relax. Think back to when you were 13 and just got your period. Think about how awkward it was trying to stick a plastic tube up there. Appreciate that journey back to adolescence and take a deep breath — it’s about to happen again.
So, essentially you fold the cup and then insert it.
There are a few different folds you can do, but the one I’ve had the best luck with is the shell fold.
Once you’ve folded it, make sure you’re sitting on the toilet (I find it’s easiest to insert it this way, but essentially anyway you would insert a tampon is how you would insert the cup).
Second, insert the folded cup. At first it’s going to feel like you’re trying to shove a bowling ball up there, but I promise it will fit and you won’t die.
You’ll want to tilt it, as you would a tampon, so it’s on a bit of an angle going up toward the small of your back — not straight upward.
This isn’t like a tampon where you have an applicator that does the work for you — your hand is the applicator (yay for no plastic!). You’re going to get super comfortable with your downstairs when you insert your cup, because… well… you have to. Your fingers will be inside of you, pushing the cup up.
It sounds freaky, but it’s really not that bad.
Once you get the top part of the cup inside of you, you don’t have to continue squeezing the sides as much. You want to make sure the cup goes back to it’s normal form so that it can catch all of your blood.
Note: If you find yourself with blood on your underwear, it’s most likely because it didn’t suction properly. Try it again and when the cup is inside of you, feel around to see if it feels like the cup is still folded or if it is dented-in significantly. It should feel rounded, just like it would if you were holding it normally. It needs to remain a cup shape in order to catch all the blood.
There is only so far it can go — it’s unlikely you’ll push it up too far, so don’t worry.
For the Lunette Cup (which I recommend!), you don’t want the stem part to be sticking out of you at all. If it’s up far enough you won’t be able to feel or see the stem.
If it is sticking out, grab the cup from the base again and push it up more. The goal is to not see or feel the stem at all.
Here’s how you take it out. Reach inside of yourself, press the sides of the cup together (you should hear something that sounds suction-y, as the cup is literally suctioned to you) and then pull it out. Don’t grab the cup by the stem, because you don’t want to spill blood everywhere.
Blood is unlikely to be filled to the brim, but note: there is blood in there. So when you take it out you will see a pool of blood in your cup.
Dispose of your blood. Dump out the blood either in your sink or in your toilet, wash it with some water (and gentle soap if desired) and then reinsert it.
When your period is over, clean the cup with hot water and soap and then put it away until next month.
SOME THINGS TO NOTE
Make sure when you first get your cup you boil it for 15-20 minutes. You can boil it and put some gentle soap, like Castile soap, in with it every month if you’d like!
Be sure to read the directions inside the box because there might be more tips for inserting your specific menstrual cup, or there might be more detailed directions on how to clean it, etc.
Also, if your period is super light, consider wetting your cup to lubricate it. This will help make it go in easier. That helps me sometimes!
It can take a few months to really get the hang of inserting the cup — be patient and don’t give up! I promise it’s worth it! Try wearing a pad or panty liner for your first month or two while using the cup. It will help you feel less anxious about leaking and help you focus more on getting it in the right position and learning your body.
WHICH CUP SHOULD I GET?
I was between the Diva Cup and the Lunette Cup. I’ve heard some mixed reviews about the Diva Cup. Some say you have to cut the stem, others say it’s uncomfortable. Some reviews said it’s best for women who have had babies, other reviews said it doesn’t matter.
My advice? Read reviews. I swear by them. I read a ton of reviews before buying a menstrual cup and from my research, I came to the conclusion that the Lunette Cup was the one for me — and it is!
Here’s a link that has details about sizing for the Lunette Cup! Their website is super helpful!
While you have to order the Lunette Cup online (yay Finland! s/o to my best pal Saara from Finland!), it’s definitely worth it. Also the Lunette Cup comes in tons of different colors, which is always fun 🙂
Note: I am NOT being sponsored by Lunette to say any of this. I just really love this brand!
Research brands for yourself — but if it’s your first time, I wouldn’t get a Diva Cup. That’s just my opinion!
If you have specific questions (no matter how gross or weird or stupid they may seem to you), PLEASE feel free to ask! Comment, email, or Instagram message me anytime! I’m beyond happy to help in anyway and I promise I won’t be freaked out by any of your questions :)!