Simplicity and sustainability are two concepts that are never far from my mind. In recent years I’ve applied them to one area of my life I’d rather not think about – my period.
I’ll pause here – if you are of the portion of our population that does not experience menstruation each month (ahem, men) – now is a great time to bow out, because things are about to get personal.
This November marks two years since I switched from tampons to a menstrual cup. It’s made my life simpler (no need to pack around ‘supplies’), and I feel good that I’m not flushing a bunch of tampons and tossing dozens applicators into the trash each month. I have been tampon-free since that time and have felt better for it. No more worrying about toxic shock syndrome, no more inserting bleached cotton in places it shouldn’t go, no more struggling with tampons on light days, and no more dropping $$ each month on supplies. The course of my period has even changed, it is a little bit shorter than it used to be (though arguably faster).
Over time I have streamlined my cup-using process and I wanted to share it with you guys. If you’re like me, you might be holding out on making the switch because the logistics seem daunting.
I purchased a Meluna cup on the recommendation of a reader here. After a month or two with my first cup I realized it was the wrong size, because it would either leak or I could feel it sitting too low. I bought a second one, which to do this day has been very, very functional for me. If you’re unsure of which size to get, I highly recommend using this size calculator.
I bought one with a ball on the end (affiliate link) because I find it helpful for removal, which, in all honesty, can be a bit slippery at times. I’ll never forget when I read another blogger’s take on trying to use a cup, and she said after she had inserted it, she looked like she had just performed surgery. I still laugh when I think about that, because it’s true. But I’ve definitely gotten a lot better, and now that’s not usually the case for me.
First off, it took me about a cycle or two to feel completely comfortable with the process of using a cup instead of tampons, especially getting it into place. Now it’s old hat, just like using tampons once was. I use my cup the same way I used tampons in the past, always with a pad or liner on backup. On the first few days of my period I empty the cup frequently and on the latter days I can go the entire day without pulling out the cup. Those days I almost forget that I’m on my period!
At the start of each period I take my cup out of storage and boil it in water for 5 minutes to sanitize it. I do this every single month to make sure I am not introducing anything into my body (i.e., bacteria) that I don’t want there.
Before I insert/withdraw my cup I always wash my hands, even though it seems a little odd to wash up before heading into the bathroom. I’ve found the best method to get the cup in place is to fold it in half and insert it like you would a tampon without an applicator. Then give it a quick turn so it pops open. Fold and insert. Turn + pop open.
I sleep with mine in at night and in the mornings wash it with soap and water in the shower before re-inserting for the day. This really helps cut down on mess.
Dumping the Cup
This was the scariest concept to me before I actually tried it. However, it’s not so bad. It’s similar to removing a tampon, I do it the same way (while sitting), and then gently tip it into the toilet bowl. I carefully reach over to the sink (or tub) and give it a rinse, before putting it back into place.
When I am out in public I do everything the same, except I don’t rinse the cup. I just dump and put it back in place. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but it’s infrequent, usually only on the first day or two of my period. The other days I can go a lot longer before I need to empty the cup.
As I mentioned above, I always use my cup in conjunction with a pad/liner for backup. I’ve considered the Thinx option, but it just doesn’t interest me a ton. I’m all ears if you have a more sustainable pad option (rather than disposables) that works for you.
Who has them? I know I had a million before I got started, so let me know!