I remember when I first heard of menstrual cups, I thought it was a really gross idea. I am not the kind of person who enjoys talking about my monthly visit from Uncle Red and Aunt Flo. A nice chat about my period isn’t my idea of a fantastic time but the people at You Are Loved and Twitter #PeriodTalks reminded me how important it is to shrug off the shame of public convention and raise my voice about things that matter. Too many young women aren’t adequately taught in their home, school, or peer group WHAT a period is and that there are options on how to stay hygienic and healthy “down there.” Periods shouldn’t be a taboo topic; it’s NATURE, people.
I was an early developer at nine years old and my mom did a good job of teaching me what she knew: pads and tampons. However, many eco-conscious women use alternatives to the standard disposable products and I didn’t even know that other alternatives existed! It was like a scary new world thinking about changing the products I have been using now for thirteen years.
The major two alternatives are reusable cotton pads, similar in theory to cloth diapers, and menstrual cups. I was terrified of trying a reusable silicone menstrual cup because I didn’t want to drop $30.00 or more on something that I may not like because, let’s face it, things are financially tight. I heard about disposable cups but couldn’t find anywhere in my hometown. Women around here are afraid of change…and being seen purchasing products that are potentially embarrassing. FINALLY, I noticed a small box of Softcups at my local CVS and snapped them up right then. I bought the only box of the only brand of cups on the shelf. (I also bought a box of tampons, just in case, and haven’t touched them yet.)
My first impression of the Softcup was that it looked like a giant’s condom. It was so, so strange but worked amazing well. Putting my Softcup in was weird the first time. Changing it was a little messy the first few tries and I remember being glad that I started the switch over the weekend so that I could have an adjustment time before heading out in public.
After my unexpected Fallopian tube removal last year, it was important that the cup not be painful or uncomfortable for me to wear. It wasn’t. In fact, I felt much more mobile and much less uncomfortable than when wearing a tampon. One of the major downfalls of tampons is that they dry out your vagina and make it really uncomfortable. When you break it down, what you’re really doing is forcing a wad of dry cotton into one of your most sensitive and delicate places by putting in a tampon. It doesn’t sound so normal or healthy when you put it that way, does it? It was also important that I be comfortable with the other effects. For instance, one major problem with pads is that it creates an uncomfortable feeling and sometimes a smell. You’re basically wearing a blood diaper, am I right? With a cup, I had none of the pad or tampon problems and it was a miracle.
Even better than that, you can wear a cup for 12 hours straight and it doesn’t have any effect on your bathroom habits. I have a heavy period, a very heavy period, and I have had no leakage problems up to the 12 hour mark. That means: no ruined sheets, no getting up in the middle of the night, no separate “period panties,” no awkward visits to the bathroom when you realize that you need to change your product and you’ve forgotten your purse, no purchasing panty liners to complement your tampon, and, best of all, no pain and no discomfort.
I was so scared to try menstrual cups but, once I took the chance, I realized that it was no mistake. I am a convert to reusable cups and I can’t wait until I can take my next adventure with an eco-friendly reusable cup instead of disposable cups.
Laurel Walker is the author of Opinionated Girl, a vegan, a stepmom, and a wife. When she’s not busy writing personally invasive articles on the internet, she practices Choi Kwang Do and is the Executive Board secretary for her local community theatre group.