The Menstrual Cup Low Down

Many people with a uterus (regardless of gender identity) bleed, and most use either pads or tampons to manage it. They seem like the quick, easy, cheap solution right? 

Unfortunately, a lot of people use these products without fully understanding what they’re made out of. This is not a smear campaign on tampons and pads by any means, but it’s important to be aware of what you’re putting in your body.

 

So what’s in them?

Firstly, tampon and sanitary pad manufacturers aren’t required to disclose ingredients because “feminine hygiene products” are considered “medical devices.” I don’t know about you, but this makes me nervous.

With products that we eat – the enzymes in our saliva and stomach break down potentially harmful toxins and chemical before we can absorb them. Your skin, however, does not have the same powers over topical products. Skin is extremely permeable – particularly around the vulva – and anything in contact with your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream for distribution throughout your body. Some of the things you’re potentially exposing yourself to through conventional tampons and pads may be: bleach, chlorine, dioxin, BPA’s and BPS’, pesticides and GMO’s – just to name a few.  

Organic all cotton products are an improvement to your vaginal health, but still put you at risk for TSS through loosened fibers, potentially contain mold, and interfere with your vaginal lubrication.

Decisions, decisions.

So, what should do you use then, you might wonder. Well dear reader, let me introduce you to the menstrual cup. They are small, flexible cups, made out of body safe silicone, TPE, or latex rubber – depending on the brand. They come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and styles. There’s a lot of variance with cups, just like vaginas and vulvas.

Unlike pads or tampons, a menstrual cup doesn’t absorb your blood, it holds it for you. Think of it like a helpful period pal! As with anything that is going in your vagina for long periods of time, you do need to be mindful of TSS, and follow the necessary precautions.

It’s also really important to buy from a reputable brand. Cheaper cups can be found on Amazon and eBay, but they can potentially leech unknown chemicals into your absorbent vagina, and we just learned about why you might not want that. Brands with TGA approval meet medical grade silicone requirements, and the price difference is minimal when you consider the important of your vaginal and hormone health.

Popping Your Menstrual Cup Cherry

Starting with menstrual cups may feel daunting. There are so many sizes and styles, but there are a few initial considerations that may help you decide which cup might be your vagina’s soulmate. Before buying your cup, you should consider: your age, activity level, if you’ve carried a baby to term, your cervix height, and your average menstrual flow.

If you’d like a little help with this, reach out to a holistic women’s wellness worker like myself, or try a great quiz.

Once you’ve chosen your cup, you can experiment with some different fold styles. The C Fold, Punchdown Fold, and the Origami fold tend to be the most popular, but try out a few and see what works best for you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this video for a demonstration.

Leveling Out

Cups definitely have their pros and cons, just like tampons and pads do. With a menstrual cup, you can change it every 6-12 hours depending on your flow, so you don’t have to think about your period as much during your cycle. 

You do need to be mindful of washing your hands thoroughly before inserting, and washing your cup with warm water and unscented organic soap or cup cleaner in between uses. Simply remove your cup with your fingers or your Kegel muscles, or a combination, and then pour the blood into the toilet, wash your cup, and reinsert. It’s that easy.

Strong Kegel muscles can make removal much easier, so strengthen yours up with some vaginal weightlifting, or try the Apex or Intensity by Pour Moi for a super effective and easy vaginal workout.  There is definitely a learning curve with cups, but once you have the hang of it, your period will be a breeze.

The Compassionate Cup

It is estimated that each of the approximately 73 million menstruating people in North America will throw away 16,800 disposable pads or tampons in their lifetime. Not only does using a menstrual cup reduce your landfill impact, it reduces the impact your period has on your wallet, too. Each menstrual cup will usually set you back between $20-40, and they last up to ten years. Considering that the average american woman spends $120 a year on menstrual hygiene products, that’s a lot of extra change to buy sex toys and rosé with!

Not to mention, menstrual cups reduce cramping for many of their users. Unlike tampons, they don’t interfere with your PH balance and natural lubrication, and they are extremely comfortable for most users.

Some people site the inconvenience and potential mess of changing the cup as a con, but I personally consider this a huge pro. It provides you with the opportunity to become more comfortable with your body and your menstrual cycle. It also helps familiarize you with your cervix, which – let’s be honest – most people have no clue about. 

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Alright you wonderful pervs, I know what you’re thinking. Can I have sex with it in? Well, yes and no. Some people find that when they turn a cup inside out, so the stem is on the inside of the cup, it’s comfortable to have penetrative sex, but some don’t. It’s definitely a case-by-case basis, so experiment and and find out if it works for you.

There are also a disposable type of menstrual cup, called ‘soft cups’ or ‘flex cups’, which are much better suited to penetrative intimacy. Or you can try the Fun Cup from Fun Factory – suitable for oral sex and slight penetration..

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So why not give menstrual cups a try today, you may even learn a thing or two about your body along the way.

 

 

Isabella Frappier is an Australian writer, holistic life coach, tarot reader, birth doula, and apothecarist who is currently based in LA. When she’s not busy championing her sex positive agenda she… oh wait – she’s always busy doing that. You can connect with her at www.isabellafrappier.com or follew her Instagram @bellatookaphoto!
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