Tag Archive | "eco-friendly period"

Menstrual Cups: What Every Woman Should Know

This post may contain affiliate links.

 menstrualcupsfbAfter publishing my post about how much I loved my Diva Cup I was surprised how many of you wanted more information about menstrual cups.  At the time I wasn’t prepared to answer many of the questions because I had so recently started using one myself.  Since then I have tried a few more brands and have had enough time to get very comfortable with using a cup.  Enough so that I took out my video camera and filmed myself inserting one…………………………. into a wine glass.  I hope at least a few of you were shocked for a millisecond on that one.  In all honesty using a cup can change your life for the better.  All women should know this is an option, especially teenagers who have decades of periods to look forward to.  This video will answer all of your questions about how and why menstrual cups are the greatest things since sliced bread.  If not I have some more information for you to read in this post and links to even more helpful resources.  I’m also hosting a giveaway for 1 Diva Cup and 1 Lunette Cup (and extras) at the end of the post.

There are several brands of menstrual cups on the market even beyond the five featured in the video.  I showed you the Diva Cup, Lunette Cup, Keeper Cup, Fleur Cup, and the Moon Cup, and MCUK.  Other brands to consider are Meluna (the most customizable with options for soft/med/hard and different stems), LadyCup, and Yuuki.  Another option is the Softcup that is less bell shaped.  You can find a chart comparing several of these brands at The Eco Friendly Family.

Choosing a Cup

Choosing a menstrual cup can seem as overwhelming as picking a cloth diaper system.  Unlike diapers for your baby it makes more sense to pick one to try and hope it works, then if you find it isn’t the best fit for you, use what you know about the first cup you tried and work based off of your likes and dislikes to pick the next one.  For example, I started using a Diva Cup with great success with only one complaint- it felt a TEENY bit too long and without getting a very perfect insertion I would need to remove and replace it or else I would feel the end of it- even with removing the stem.  Knowing this I looked at other cups and read reviews and experiences from other women who, with the same issue, tried a Lunette cup which is slightly shorter.  I still prefer the Diva Cup and Lunette to the Keeper cup, mostly because they are more flexible.  I haven’t tried any others just yet.  If you are wondering if your vagina is short you can reach in; if you can reach your cervix easily with a finger then you might want to try a shorter cup or possibly use a Size 1, although most women who have given birth would be best to start with a size 2.

Other factors to consider are how soft or hard the cup is.  The Keeper cup is harder which can be better for women with stronger pelvic muscles or who have not given birth.  With the Meluna you can choose from different styles that would be a softer cup, regular, or hard.  With cups averaging about $30 each most people won’t buy multiples to try so being a vigilant researcher and informed consumer as well as learning more about your own body (even your vagina and your pelvic muscles) will save you money in the long run.

Using the Cup

A cup has a learning curve but most women will get the hang of it within 2-4 cycles.  Expect to have some amusing moments in the bathroom as you transport back to the first time you used a tampon and studied the booklet showing a line drawing of a teen going “Captain Morgan” over a toilet seat.  Seeing a cup you might expect that it is too large to insert and be comfortable but remember that you will be folding it, and even though it still has a wider circumference than a tampon it isn’t by too much and it is much smaller than a vaginal ultrasound wand and *ahem* other things.  You can find several different ways to fold a cup which is handy if you try one fold and it doesn’t work, try another!


Benefits of Using the Cup

There are so many benefits to switching to a cup.  I have my reasons, in order of importance.

Comfort- When I wear a cup I cannot tell it is there.  There are no strings, no weird cramps, and no pads that can be very uncomfortable.  I have forgotten I was on my period several times.  Some women report fewer menstrual cramps and a lighter or more regular flow after using the cup for a while.  Unlike tampons and pads, cups do not pull any moisture away with them and only hold your flow.
Less changing- I used to change tampons at least 4-6 times a day.  They just weren’t comfortable to wear any longer than that no matter how heavy my period.  I can go all day without changing my cup and usually change first thing in the morning and then before bed.  You could go an entire day of work or school without having to rummage for a tampon at the bottom of your purse in the public restroom.
Less waste- Since switching I have not purchased or wasted any more plastic packaged tampons.  No more applicators, packaging, or actual feminine products being tossed or flushed.
No more chemicals- Feminine hygiene products are exposing you to more than just cotton.
Stop the midnight Target run and save money- I haven’t had an “oh shit” moment when starting my period since using a cup because my cup is always right where I left it.  Running out of tampons and making my husband run to the store late at night is no longer an event we face.  If I only had one cup it would have paid for itself twice over since starting to use it.  Maybe even more.  You’ll need to replace your cup every few years but that is nothing like buying a box or more of disposable products each month.


Troubleshooting the Cup

Common problems when inserting the cup include the cup unfolding too early, the cup not unfolding when already in place, and the cup not creating a seal that can lead to leaks.  From personal experience I use a “two-handed” method to place the cup inside since my biggest problem has been the cup unfolding too early.  I hold it together with two hands, as I place it in I remove one set and keep the other on the end until far enough that I can let it open.  Twisting the cup will help if you have issues with it not unfolding and will help with your seal.  Trying new ways to fold the cup before insertion can affect how it goes in.  Each woman will find a fold that works best for them.

Other potential problems with the cup involve it sliding down which could mean the size is too small for you or that you need a softer or harder cup.  Sliding can also be a sign that you didn’t get a proper seal and it is moving down because it wasn’t placed in properly.

Leaking is also normally related to how it was placed and has little to do with your flow.  Most cups have ample room for an average flow.  On your heaviest day you might need to change an extra time or two than normal.

Getting over the ICK factor and “Owning it”

Cups admittedly involve more “face to face” time with your lady parts than tampons or pads.  Tampon applicators mean that even though you are inserting something you don’t have to touch it.  People- there are sinks.  Also, that vagina belongs to you and touching it every once in a while is OK!  You won’t go elbow deep, but you will have to go further than when using a tampon.  In reality it isn’t that far.  I just want to be real here and tell people that you will have to “go there” because everyone should know what they are getting into when switching to a cup.  There are good reasons to be familiar with your lady parts, how strong your muscles are or aren’t, and what is actually happening during your period.  You never know when this information will help you when a health issue arises.  Own it.

Where to buy?

You can find cups on websites like Amazon.com or buy from smaller businesses locally or online.  Many cloth diaper stores carry them like Kelly’s Closet, Diaper Junction, and Sweetbottoms Boutique.  I’ve included affiliate links in this paragraph only for anyone interested in making a purchase after watching such a fabulous video!  A small percentage of purchases will go back to Dirty Diaper Laundry and might just reimburse me for the 500 (okay, 5) cups I had to buy to make the video!

All products used in this video were purchased by me.  No promotional products or monetary compensation was received and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.  

Posted in Eco-Friendly Life, Reusable Fem-CareComments (139)

There Will Be Blood. Alt title- The Most TMI Post Ever About The Diva Cup

This post may contain affiliate links.

As if the title isn’t foreboding enough here is the skinny: this post is all about my new best friend- The Diva Cup.  The Diva Cup is a tiny magical silicone cup that you insert into your womanly cavity during your magical monthly visit that catches your nutrient rich menses.  See?  TMI.  What I really hope to get across with this post is how LIFE CHANGING switching to a reusable menstrual cup can be.  Consider these things:  You only have to change your cup 1-2 times a day.  You will never have to buy disposable feminine products again or make a midnight run to Target when your period starts.  Some women even find that using them eliminates or reduces cramping and regulates their periods.  Oh, and there are no visible signs of your period- no strings, no pads, nothing.  You might even forget you are on your period- I know I have!

It took me a solid 21 months to get my period back after having Everett and I loved every minute of it.  I really dreaded having a period again because they suck.  Not because of cramps, headaches, or mood swings because frankly I don’t get those.  I just hate dealing with it.  Now that I have become more aware of the chemicals contained in tampons I don’t want them in my person anymore and pads are not my thing.  It was time to own up to it and switch over to a reusable and chemical free option.  I went with The Diva Cup but there are several other brands of reusable menstrual cups on the market and they all have their own pros and cons.  The Eco Friendly Family has a nice chart comparing many popular brands.

Image via Divacup.com

I was transported back to being a young teen as I had to actually read the directions that came with the Diva Cup.  Sitting on my toilet I studied the diagrams on how to fold it before insertion.  I had a few unsuccessful attempts because the folds in the booklet didn’t get the opening of the cup small enough.  A small vagina?  I’ll live with that curse…  Online there are more “fancy” folds and I tried a few out including one called the Origami.  There is an origami fold in the cloth diaper world too so I picked it.

After my first go I was on top of the world because it was in there!  I tried and succeeded at something that, although seemingly difficult, wasn’t so bad after a few attempts.  After my first period was over I was definitely getting better at it and was a total convert.  The Diva Cup was LIFE CHANGING.

Now I can’t imagine using tampons again.  Ever.  I remember the strange uncomfortable feeling they gave me when I left them in too long (and not like TSS endangering long, just over 4 hours) and the weird non-cramp cramp it induced.  It was as if my body was warning me that it wasn’t good for me.

Now for a few FAQ’s:

Is it comfortable?

YES!  The most amazing thing is how non existent the Diva Cup is while wearing it.  Assuming you have it inserted correctly you will not feel a thing.  I have even forgotten I was wearing it for over 20 hours.

How do I get it out?!

PUSH!  Just imagine that you have your cup inserted properly and it is snugly in place.  You can either reach in to grab the stem (if you are lucky enough to be able to reach) but even then have you been in a vagina lately?  They are kinda slippery…. Instead of getting your hands dirty just push the cup out using the same muscles many of you have used to push your baby out.  Your muscles don’t know the difference, plus it’s good to give them a work out!  Once the cup has been moved down and the stem is at your vaginal opening or lower you can grab the stem (with TP if you prefer either for cleanliness or non-slip reasons) and pull.  You might have to squeeze the actual cup some to break the suction or break the seal by going in farther and poking the rim if this doesn’t work for you.

What do I do in public restrooms?

PANIC!  Just kidding… The best thing about the Diva Cup (and all cups) is that you aren’t required to change it nearly as often as a tampon.  I can wear mine a solid 12 hours with no leaks but usually change it when I wake in the morning and before bed.  That means I go my ENTIRE DAY without having to change it.  My whole day I can pretend that I am not on my period.  Due to that you might not have to change in a public restroom.  If you do have to it isn’t as scary as it sounds.  Just this once you can get away with dumping the contents, wiping the cup out with TP, and re-inserting.  I have one tip for you.  Use the handicap stall since many also have sinks built in.  I wouldn’t use their soap since you don’t know the contents but you can rinse with warm water.  And after having to change my Diva Cup in a small bathroom stall while straddling a double stroller which contained my two boys I can honestly say that the act of changing the cup is less stressful in public than having your son ask {loudly} over and over “Mommy what is that cup?  Are you pooping in the cup?  Mommy what is that thing for?  Are you going to get a drink with your little cup?  Where did the cup go?!”  THAT was a challenge.  Let’s just say that wearing a skirt made it possible to hide the disappearing act from my sons and that they now think I am a magician.  The Diva Cup is magic!

Because no one asked I am handing out some very TMI tips and tidbits I’ve picked up after using the Diva Cup for a few months.  Most would apply to any menstrual cup (probably) as well.

1. Consider a SHAVE.  It will make insertion and removal so much easier.  I’m not a 1970’s porn star but I don’t keep things empty either.  I was in between sessions when I first attempted using my Diva Cup.  It was right then that I knew I needed to shave.  After I did things were much easier and less ouchy.

2. Cut the Stem.  The Diva Cup comes with a long stem meant to help you get it out.  Out of the box it is too long for most people I’ve talked to and if you can feel it you won’t be comfortable.  Definitely consider trimming down or completely.

3.  You can’t be squeamish.  We all have a vagina (everyone reading this has one, I don’t have a slew of male readers and if they started this they probably won’t get this far) and we all have to interact with it every once in a while.  A menstrual cup does involve more interaction than tampons but it is so worth it.  And since becoming a mom I’m used to touching bodily fluids… although FYI insertion isn’t going to be as interactive as removal.

4.  Pooping is the worst part.  Everybody poops… so we can talk about this like adults.  Since you push to poop you might also be pushing your Diva Cup out or at least moving it down from where it should be.  This means you will likely need to remove it and put it back in after a good wash.  Now that I know this I will often remove beforehand, wash it,  and have it ready for after.  You can certainly leave it in however and maybe you will be luckier than me and not have this issue.  But if you do then know that you are not the only one.

5.  It is additively fascinating.  I thought I might be grossed out by seeing my menstrual blood collected into a cup.  Instead I ended up being fascinated by it.  Most women will never see their blood collected and know what it really looks like.  The most amazing thing is dumping the contents in the toilet and seeing the thick blood make pretty red patterns in the water like a lava lamp.  I told you this was all about TMI.  Oh, and if you are into this sort of thing you can find uses for you blood, maybe for an art installation, a practical joke,  or to paint with?  Is there a market for selling menstrual blood?! (just kidding…)

6.  Sink or toilet?  Towel or TP?  Counter or bag?  So you dump out the blood in the your toilet then wash in your sink, but there is still some blood left in the cup around the walls.  Do you rinse and dump it on your sink?  I don’t… I run water in it, walk it to the toilet, dump that, and then wash in the sink with soap and warm water.  Then how do you dry your Diva Cup?  There is just something weird about using the towel you dry your hands on… but then again you just washed the thing.  I will use a square of TP to dry the outside, I don’t bother with the inside.  And if you need to sit it down while you use the toilet or shower, where do you store it?!  The bag is a good place to store your clean cup… I have contemplated putting it down on the counter but talked myself out of it.  Don’t lose your drawstring baggie!

The learning curve is a small price to pay for something that will most definitely change your quality of life in a significant way.  After my first full day of using my Diva Cup I couldn’t hide my giddiness and finally told my husband about it.  His face was priceless.  My periods have been the happiest periods I’ve ever had in my life.  Sure, I’ve had some frustrating moments from time to time with getting the Diva Cup in perfectly but that is nothing compared to the peace of mind and comfort that it has brought into my life.  And forgetting everthing else- you will save so much money!  And never again will you have to drag yourself out of bed in the middle of the night after starting your period and realizing you are out of tampons.  I know I would never have attempted using a menstrual cup if it weren’t for hearing from friends.  Pretend I’m your friend (maybe I am!) and take my word for it.  I’m not endorsing one particular brand of cup; it just so happens that I bought a Diva Cup.  They are now sold in major drug stores, health food stores, and online on places like Amazon and cloth diaper stores (Kelly’s Closet, my affiliate, has them too.)  You might also like the post by Cloth Diaper Geek about her Lunette cup.

I did not receive any free products or incentives to post about the Diva Cup. I purchased it for myself after having my son and didn’t get to use it until almost 2 years later but the good news is that it was still fresh in the box.  I’ll probably try other brands soon just to see if I can improve my experience but already using a cup is way better than tampons.  

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