Seven months ago, I made the big decision to not only ween myself off of pharmaceutical birth control (read more about the FAM Method here), but also to make the switch from using disposable feminine hygiene products to using just one, reusable, menstrual cup. The latter of the two decisions was long in the making.
For years, I’d been uncomfortable with having to throw away so many used tampons and applicators each month. Research suggests that the pads, tampons, and packaging thrown away during a woman’s lifetime can add up to almost 300 pounds of garbage. Just as worrisome, if not more so, is the question of toxicity. Between the phthalates in applicators, bleach in the cardboard, and pesticides (plus more bleach) in the cotton, I was getting nervous about the chemicals I was exposing myself to, intimately, each month. When the only tampon I’d ever found that was actually comfortable and effective was discontinued this summer, I took that as my sign to move forward with exploring my options.
I’d heard that it was possible to get washable, reusable pads, but my memories of using menstrual pads as a girl are horrific, to say the least. The middle school-era embarrassment over the personal perception of the messiness and smell are just not something I’d ever like to revisit. A few years ago, I ran across mention of a thing called a “menstrual cup” somewhere online, and then about a year ago, a female family member basically sang praises to her DivaCup in conversation. I interrogated her on the product and the process, and learned that a menstrual cup is pretty much what it sounds like – a little cup that’s inserted in your vagina to collect fluids during your period. Depending on the brand and material chosen, the cup can last for years, they can be so flexible and comfortable that you don’t feel them, and depending on capacity, you might only have to empty the cup once a day during your period. When it came time to make my switch, it seemed like a no brainer.
Only one problem: which menstrual cup to choose? Since I had no clue, and the only one my family member had ever tried was the only one she knew about, I turned to an online forum for some of my answers. If you’re in the market for a happier cycle, I’d start at the really friendly community of http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/, and also check out the menstrual cup reviews and photos at http://menstrualcups.wordpress.com/. Both sites are chock-full of information on all sorts of questions typically perceived as embarrassing or risque, including FAQs like appropriate brands for different body shapes and sizes, tips for menstrual cup use on-the-go, insertion and removal issues…just about anything you’ve got a question for, someone else has the answer.
As for me, after lurking about the forums for awhile, reading testimonials and reviews, and looking through photos, I started to realize that I had some things in common with some women. I knew that I’d need something soft and ultra-flexible, suitable for sensitivity (no exposed seams or ridges that could cause irritation), something that has excellent reviews for staying in place while running/being active, a cup that had multiple sizes (most cups have a size for pre-childbirth and another, larger size for post-childbirth), and also important for me was a cup that was bright and pretty. Even though by its very definition, the menstrual cup is most likely never going to be seen by anyone else, I still wanted it to be something cheery and cute. If comfort weren’t an issue, I would have opted for something encrusted in Swarovski crystals – that’s just how I roll. 🙂
In the end, I opted for a brand called SckoonCup. Made of soft, medical grade silicone, the cup is touted to be one of the softest and most flexible menstrual cups on the market. It also comes in a variety of bright colors, and is made of one piece of silicone, so no exposed seams. The cup is made in the USA, and comes with an adorable organic cotton storage bag that makes it almost a pleasure to “unwrap” the cup once a month. Also, unlike many menstrual cup companies, SckoonCup not only sells menstrual cups, but a variety of other products for women and babies.
Buying a menstrual cup is one thing – learning to use it is another. Click here to read more about my (unfiltered) experience using SckoonCup.