This is a sensitive topic of discussion, it is one that involves a woman’s comfort with her own body, comfort with touching it, and comfort with getting down and dirty with one’s own bodily fluids. Yes, I’m talking about menstrual cups. Yes, they collect your menstrual blood into a cup that sits in your vagina. Yes, I am actually writing about this. But can I count the ways that menstrual cups are far superior to any other feminine product on the market? Yes, I can, and I will, because I believe it is my civic duty to educate my fellow woman on what true freedom feels like.
12. You can have sex while wearing disposable ones.
Not that I condone relations with a man who views women’s bodily functions as foreign and gross (I would tell said man to grow the fuck up), but if your S.O. doesn’t want to deal with the bloody mess, disposable cups flatten upon entry, allowing for you to leave them in and still make sweet sterile love. Always read the instructions to make sure sex is an option, as this is dependent upon the brand (I recommend Softcup), and as always, exercise common sense.
11. They are compact.
With cups, there are no variations in flow size. You just need one.
10. They are (arguably) less gross.
This perhaps is my own personal preference, but tampons are nasty. They reek, they absorb pee, they absorb seve (female arousal fluid), and yet these are the necessary evils to get sweet sweet red tide relief. No more. No more balancing everso over the toilet to make sure your tampy string doesn’t get tainted by other business. Just sayin. No strings attached.
9. They are hypoallergenic.
Menstrual cups are specifically designed to not disrupt the delicate ecosystem of the vagina. Most reusable cups are made from medical grade silicone and disposable ones from the same polymeric material used to made catheters and baby bottle nipples. All cups are non-absorbent and non-irritating, and most companies will disclose if they contain latex.
8. You can perform physical activity while wearing one.
You can run, rock climb, kickbox, skydive, have sex! But most coveted of all these physical activities, you can swim. You can go to the beach and not feel anxious at the thought of blood running down your leg, tampon string slipping out, or exposing your pad. You can be the beach babe all month long!
7. There is no link to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).
Whereas pads and tampons alter the natural pH and exacerbate the bacterial flora of the vagina, menstrual cups are designed to be non-absorbent, meaning that they don’t promote growth of bacteria while it’s up in there. The risk of tampons is with their precious absorbency. To be blunt: it is a cotton ball on a string that absorbs all your period blood and sits in the vagina rotting until you take it out. Although rare, this has proven links to the bacterium Staphylococcus Aureus, the cause of TSS.
6. You can wear one overnight, without leaks.
We’ve all been there. The flow was heavier than you thought, or you were low on cotton and thought you could make it anyway. “I just took a shower, it’s fine,” or “I’m lying horizontally, I can deal until I run to the store tomorrow.” Whoops, now you’ve ruined your sheets, or your mattress, and now you’re that girl. No more embarrassing adolescent nocturnal spillage, I promise.
5. Most menstrual cups are reusable.
That’s right. You can buy just one. And reuse it. Again and again. Forever. We already established that these babies are made of polymeric material baby nipples and medical grade silicone, so you can choose to do the right thing and rid landfills of plastic compost, or toss out the plastic ring with each use. As awkward as it may sound to crabwalk over to the sink to rinse out your blood cup, there is something slightly rebellious about the act of claiming your right to service your own body in a way that benefits you and the environment. I think of it as menstrual martyrdom.
4. They cheap, ya’ll.
Take into account that I am one who believes that feminine sanitary products (i.e. pads, tampons and cups) should be covered by health insurance plans or food stamps, cups are the most cost-effective, compact and discreet of the three. Compare the price of a 36-count multi-pack of tampons to a 14-count box of softcups and it comes out to about the same. Or compare a box of tampons, needing replenishing every month or so, with one DivaCup that lasts a lifetime.
3. It eliminates odor.
Because the cups are not made of absorbent material, and they are not exposed to the air, the cup does not affect the balance of bacteria inside the vagina, leading to foul smells and other symptoms of vaginal pH gone terribly terribly wrong.
2. You can’t tell you’re wearing it.
Though the cups look intimidating to some (I could not imagine being receptive to the idea of squishing a disc the size of a teacup up there at first), once it is neatly in place, held there by the public bone, you really can’t tell it’s there. Compared to pads that feel like an adult diaper and tampons that feels like a decaying rag with an escape route, the cup is a worry-free fit. Taking it out is relatively simple, if you aren’t too squeamish about getting intimate with your body, it’s about as nerve-racking as taking out a contact lense. Using a hook-and-pull motion, you simply reach up and pull it out. Really. That’s it. Cups also come in varying sizes, for pre-childbirth and post-childbirth.
1. You can wear it up to 12 hours.
This is what converted me. The peace of mind to know that despite cramps, I can otherwise pretend I’m not having a period for half a day. You can wear the cup through sex, bicycle rides, long swims, long walks, office meetings, naps, spur-of-the-moment events, you don’t have to plan your day around your period! You can leave it in and forget. Tampons max out at eight hours, if you’d dare to leave it in that long. But with an alternative that wards off odor, bacteria, irritation, and leaks, why wouldn’t you want to give it a go?
Image via Lunette.