Updated: Jul 24
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I was 19 years old and in university when I first seriously considered purchasing a menstrual cup. This was far before I was into cloth pads or even thinking about them. Prior to buying a Mooncup (a brand quite easily available in shops near me), I mainly used disposable sanitary pads (whichever brand was on offer at my local supermarket) and tampons rarely (just for swimming). I used to have my period for 7-8 days and that was the way it had always been, regardless of starting the oral contraceptive pill age 17.
Mooncup is a brand of menstrual cup that can easily be found in the UK. It comes in two sizes. I went for the one designed for those who have not given birth vaginally and are under 30 years old. My first reaction to Mooncup was ‘omg this thing is huge’ as I took it out of the box but, as it was the second day of my period and I could already feel the skin irritation building from the sweaty pad I was wearing, I thought ‘let’s have a go’. It was quite easy to insert after reading the simple instructions although I did have to cut off the stem completely (I have a medium height cervix). Once this was done, I couldn’t feel it at all.
I had my doubts that it would work well for me straight away since many people online had talked about there being a 'steep learning curve'. But still, I carried on my life as normal. Later that day I went to the gym and the day after that I hiked up a mountain. To my surprise, there were no leaks! I was amazed considering I'd never tried something like this before. Another very nice experience was that, by day 5 of my period, I was on what would normally be the amount for day 8 (barely nothing, enough to stain underwear lightly if I wasn’t wearing the cup). After cycle 2 using the Mooncup, I soon realised that it had somehow shortened my period down to 5 days (less chemical exposure to my body? I’ll mention that now...).
Since then I have done more research into reusable menstrual products in general and realised some shocking truths. Tampons contain harsh chemicals including bleaches (to give them their uniform white colour) while the fibres can break off and possibly migrate to other areas of your reproductive system or simply allow dangerous bacteria to breed, therefore possibly causing TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). Pads aren’t completely innocent either with the majority of brands using gels and beads to absorb more liquid. These formulas contain other chemicals which may be harmful in the long term. Scientific knowledge is very limited on the topic of disposable menstrual products currently and brands are often excused from telling you what exactly goes into their products. Once learning this, I realised Mooncup is probably what I’ll be using for the rest of my menstruating life, especially with it being so economical (buy one, look after it and it’ll last you years) and the fact that it has shortened my cycle.
Before ending this review, I’d just like to address some concerns I read about Mooncup and other menstrual cup brands while researching them before I purchased mine.
1) Many ladies were unhappy with the idea that they may have to empty and clean the cup while in a public bathroom, which could be messy. My response to this is that, because menstrual cups hold a lot more than pads or tampons, it is unlikely that you will need to empty it in a public situation. Simply clean it before you leave home and then after you get back as I do or if you’re really concerned about it overflowing, wear a panty liner until you gain confidence on how it is with your particular flow. If you absolutely have to clean it in a public place, take a small bottle of water into the cubicle with you and rinse it over the toilet.
2) Some say that reusable menstrual cups are unhygienic because you clean and reuse them. My question to you all is, when you have sex, do you sterilise your partner’s penis/sex toy? I'm guessing the answer to that is no and many posts around the internet claim that disposable tampons and pads aren’t as sterile as you would expect either.
3) A lot of ladies can be put off trying them because others have reviewed them as being ‘painful to insert’. The simple solution to this is to find a comfortable position (i.e squatting) and use a lubricant.
4) Lastly, many ladies question whether they are an effective method of managing your period simply because they have never heard of them before. My school never talked about them during our puberty talks, none of my friends ever mentioned trying them and they’re rarely advertised on social media. This means nothing about their quality and effectiveness, trust me. Pads and tampons have big shiny advertising campaigns to pull you in and take your money while menstrual cups are only able to sell you one once every few years simply because of the nature of the product. That suggests to me that they often wouldn't have the spare money to make bold adverts and employ hundreds to storm social media.
Final words: yes menstrual cups can be expensive to buy to begin with but trust me, your body will thank you in the long run and so will your purse.