Menstrual cups, Mooncups, Lily Cups, Diva Cups: whatever you call it, if you’re a woman you probably know what it is: a flexible silicone cup that you use instead of tampons.
While the use of these cups are on the rise, lots of women still shy away from making the switch – and understandably so. They’re one of those things that seem like a good idea in theory, but when it comes to actually making the switch and you come up with all sorts of questions: what if the menstrual cup gets stuck? Why are menstrual cups better than tampons? How does a menstrual cup actually stay up there?
WHAT MAKES MENSTRUAL CUPS BETTER THAN TAMPONS?
Our periods are toxic, so it turns out. Toxic to our bodies because we are shoving chemical-laden wads of cotton up our vaginas. Toxic to the environment because of the way these are produced and where they eventually end up, especially if you flush them down the loo.
One solution is organic tampons and pads. And this is a swap we can totally understand and easily make.
Menstrual cups are also rising in popularity. Many women who use them are ardent fans of their cups but like most things in life, the road to success is anything but smooth. So if you’ve ever wondered what using a menstrual cup is really like, we asked some women to share their honest experiences with us.
MENSTRUAL CUPS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BUT DON’T WANT TO ASK
MY CUP FILLITH OVER: WHEN YOUR MENSTRUAL CUP OVERFLOWS
“Third time lucky”, I said to myself when I decided to try my moon cup again, after one very failed attempt and a second, let’s say ‘mixed review’. So, this was going be the decider on whether I continued to use the moon cup I’ve heard so many friends rave about.
My periods are heavy, so when I found out that this little environmentally friendly invention doesn’t have to be changed as often as tampons and is better for your body, I was sold. I was actually quite excited.
Washed and ready, it was just me and my cup… OUCH! OK, relax, try again… Yes, I am describing my ‘first time’ here, and I was very gentle – what a doll! I read the instructions again and tried another fold. Stubborn little bugger wasn’t going in! In pain, and now late for work, I gave up. It took me a year to forgive it. I’m not even one to hold a grudge, but that’s how much pain I was in.
Relenting to peer pressure by friends’ odes to their menstrual cups, my second time was more successful. It took a couple of tries, but I eventually succeeded in the shower (top tip). Then came the worry of getting it out and then back in when in a toilet cubicle.
One word: ‘messy’. I said I was heavy, and I just didn’t anticipate the drippage. TMI? Surely I’m not the only one! My following attempts were hit and miss, but I eventually got the hang of it and could start to see the appeal.
For my next period, I turned to Auntie Google. Down a YouTube rabbit hole, I learnt that there are numerous folds – not just the two on the instructions manual.
I tried again, folding the cup differently as I recognised that the shape of it when folded as a C (or a U) is what was pinching me and causing me pain before. Cue the punch down fold, and yes, an air punch!
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again has never rung more true.
THE DAY MY BOYFRIEND HAD TO PULL MY MENSTRUAL CUP OUT FOR ME: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR MOON CUP GETS STUCK
“We were away for a romantic weekend for my boyfriend’s birthday and, of course, my period came early (a benefit of moon cups: you just keep it in your bag for when you need it, and you never run out). Not too early, fortunately, but early enough that on day two I was crouched in the shower, after 45 minutes of poking and prodding, shouting through the door “It’s stuck, it’s really stuck”.
And diligently like the new-age man he is, my boyfriend pushed open the door, confidently strolled in, and saved the day… Or so the story that we have told no-one, until this point, goes in his head.
The reality was somewhat different. For 30 of the 45 minutes he was reading tips online and trying to coach me through, with increasing panic in his voice when several suggested this may require third-party intervention and none of the other advice was working.
After 45 minutes I asked him quietly to come in. And he did so bravely, but with trepidation. Once close to me he closed his eyes tight and put his fingers masterfully in place. We heard a pop, he pulled the cup out and instantly discarded it onto the shower tray as if it was scalding hot, accompanied by a little squeal.
He then washed his hands thoroughly, eyes tightly shut, asking repeatedly “Is it gone yet?”.
It was funny. Even right then and there I was laughing. Even more so when his love of engineering got the better of him and he felt compelled to explain to me what my problem had been (besides panic) and why the pop was so important (releasing the suction).
I cleaned the cup and put it straight back in; if you fall off your bike you get straight back on. It’s never got stuck since.”
THE ONE WHERE THE MOONCUP GETS LOST
“I’ve used my menstrual cup for about five years now. I love it: I always found tampons irritating (my vagina is even more sensitive than my personality, apparently); unpredictable to use (when you only have supersize on a light day and, heaven forbid, vice versa) and expensive.
I don’t have any huge horror stories about the early days – or nothing so scarring that I remember it now, other than the occasional leak. But half a decade since I oh-so-smugly gave all my tampons and pads away to sceptical friends, there’s still the odd incident. I’ve dropped my moon cup in the loo; I’ve dropped my full moon cup on the floor; there’s a long list. I’ll spare you the gory details and just share one, la pièce de résistance.
Picture the scene: my housemates have already left for work. I’m about to leave. I empty my moon cup and realise huzzah! my period is over. I put the moon cup to one side to sterilise it (you boil it for seven minutes). I brush my teeth. I boil the kettle and fill the pan. I go to get my moon cup. It’s gone. Gone! I start looking for it: our two bathrooms. My bedroom. The kitchen. OMFG where is it? The living room?? No. What if I’ve accidentally flushed it down the loo? I start sweating. Fuck, we’ve live in a really old house and the plumbing struggles at the best of times. I text my Whatsapp group with my housemates, cringing as I press send.
The search continues as time ticks on and my panic increases. I’m going to have to go. I empty the pan and rinse it and go to put it away in the cupboard under the sink. And there it is: my moon cup, innocently lying on its side. How the fuck did it get there?!
All in all, I love my moon cup. Sure, the first few days can be a bit messy, but nothing a bit of patience and determination won’t fix. And if you really want to know, I’ve had sex with my moon cup in when drunk. Several times. And never had a complaint. But that might say more about me than the moon cup… ”
CHAMPAGNE AND MOON CUPS: THE ONLY TIME IT’S OK TO DRINK AND DRIVE
“I was away for the weekend on my best mates hen do and I was opening our first bottle of champagne when I revealed I was now a proud cup user, for the very first time.
I’d pulled off the foil and as I made my announcement the champagne corked burst out behind me in celebration! We were in hysterics as my best mate said “and that’s what I think about you wearing a moon cup!”
I’ve had two babies and my periods are really heavy, especially for the first two days, including throughout the night – where I often had to change sanitary towels to stop leakage in the night.
I threw myself into the deep end because I was away for the weekend and my period arrived three days early. I hadn’t brought any tampons or sanitary towels with me, but luckily had the moon cup in my suitcase. I found it easy to fit and even managed to change it on a drunken night out!
It probably took around three cycles for me to get the fit right, not have any leaks and feel confident with fitting it. It’s easy when you know how! Now, I haven’t looked back and no longer use tampons at all. I can use the moon cup throughout the night without leakage and don’t really need to remove and clean in the day, even on the first day of my period.”