Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TMI, Anyone? -- My Experience with a Menstrual Cup

We're all adults here, right?  I can't help but feel a little weird writing this post, but what the heck.  It deserves its own label, categorized under "Overshare" or "TMI" (too much information).  Okay, here goes...

Aunt Flo. The Curse.  That time of the month.  My husband calls it "girl week". Whatever you call it, we women have to deal with it.  So the question is, is there a way to approach girl week frugally?  And the more pressing question, have I taken this frugal thing too far?  Hard to say.

A few months ago, I read a post on the blog Simple Organic about ways to make your personal life a little more eco-friendly.  I don't consider myself some kind of crunchy granola girl, but I am environmentally minded, especially since it sometimes translates into saving money.  Anyway, I got to the section in the post about switching to "green feminine hygiene" products and they mentioned menstrual cups. I'd read about them before in the Tightwad Gazette and I remembered because it had seemed kind of weird.  In the Simple Organic post, it had links to various brands of menstrual cups and, curious being that I am, clicked on them for more information.

The most popular of the ones mentioned was the Diva Cup, so I read more about it. Menstrual cups have actually been around since the 1930s and the design hasn't really changed at all.  Basically, you insert it like a tampon and it catches everything instead of absorbing.  (I promise, I'm totally blushing as I'm writing this.) The other difference is that they're reusable because they're made of silicone.  You empty the cup, rinse it with hot water, and use it again.  Apparently, they last for a long time (though the company says to replace it annually; other sites say this isn't necessary, saying that they can last for up to ten years). And, apparently, you don't need to use pads or tampons ever again.  They're totally leak-proof and you can even wear it through the night, as there's no risk for toxic shock syndrome with the cups. 

I read all that and thought, "Well, that's fine and dandy, but isn't it uncomfortable/messy/gross/weird?" So I did what I do with just about everything: I checked the reviews for the Diva Cup on Amazon. There were like 200 different reviews and the average rating was 4.5 stars, with review titles that said, "Life-altering!" and "So useful, so comfortable -- it will change your life!" and "I forgot I was even on my period!"  And a lot of the reviews said something to the effect of "I was skeptical at first, but now I'm converted! I'll never go back!" 

So, I got brave and ordered one.


I'll admit, it's a little pricey. I bought mine off Amazon.com for about $23 + shipping (the price may vary).  But, even if you spend only $5 a month on pads and tampons, that's $60 a year.  In comparison, $23 is a bargain (like only spending $2 a month). And if it's true that you can use the same one for years, then the savings are even better. Plus, I know a lot of women stock up on pads and tampons as part of their emergency supplies and storage -- the menstrual cup would be an awesome solution for that.

I will spare you the details, but I did test it out.  I'll tell you now, it lived up to the hype. It took a little while to figure it out, how to make it comfortable (there are different ways to fold it before using it. I suggest the 7-fold. Google it.), but after the first day, I had it down.  And just like promised, it was leak-proof.  I even wore it at night.  That month, I only used one or two pads (just for back-up the first day).  All the reviewers were right, too -- I totally forgot about it. I never thought I'd say anything about that time of the month being great, but it kind of was.  It was almost like not even having a period.

I'm not going to go into the details on how to use it or some of the questions associated with it -- I'll refer you to the site. It's really helpful. You could also watch this video (you know, for a second opinion):


EcoStiletto's Rachel Breaks Down the Reusable Cup from EcoStiletto on Vimeo.

I'll just put this right out there: it's a little more...how do I put this?...hands-on than the mainstream methods. It takes some getting used to at first, I'll admit. But, really, if you take a step back and look at the methods you use now, it's all kinda weird; you're just used to the norm. The only thing I didn't get about the Diva Cup was why it comes with a lapel pin of their logo.  On that, your guess is as good as mine.

13 comments:

Tara said...

I'm gonna go there-it's a little too much "greenness" for me. I am sll for saving the environment, but ummm, YUCK! Go ahead girl, but it will be Playtex for me for the next 25+ years.

Heather said...

I knew there would be some doubters, but I'm telling you, it's not any worse than using regular old stuff. REALLY!

Jenn said...

Ok Heather just wondering a few months later is this still working for you?

Heather said...

For anyone (including Jenn) that's wondering -- yes! It's great!

Nisha said...

OMGosh! Seriously?! I've never heard of such a thing, but totally willing to try it.

I wonder how I missed this post when it when up.

maggi g said...

I know my comment is late but I just found your blog.
I am 65 years old and I used this cup when I was in my 20s. didn't like it much but it did work well. had a hysterectomy at 30 so I no longer needed such things.

Heather said...

Just found this blog. LOVE the cup! Love your write up about it too. :)

Kristin Day said...

I would love to use this method if it could actually work because I refuse to use store-bought tampons. They have all kinds of chemicals in them which causes me problems..down there. But what do people do if they are heavy bleeders? That cup looks like it'd work for about 15 mins tops before needing to be emptied. I dont have time for that. And no matter what anybody says, I can ALWAYS feel if something is jammed up inside of me. Even the smallest tampon can easily be felt at all times. I've also known girls who have "sat wrong" while wearing one and it dumps blood everywhere on them....Idk, maybe it works for some, but to me it looks like it would only work for exceptionally light bleeders :(

Heather said...

Everyone's different, but it works for me. I mean, I can't really compare how my monthly cycle is to others since I don't really ask, but it's certainly not "exceptionally light". And with that being the case, I still only change it maybe 2-3 times a day and I've never had it leak or experienced discomfort.

Ocyla said...

I bought one recently, LOVE IT. Once I got the hang of it, it was like not being having a period. Absolutely worth the money and huge bonus not having to buy anything extra.

Heather said...

@Ocyla -- I know, right?! It makes that time of the month SO much easier.

Karen Kain said...

So interesting! We just moved into a new house with a septic system and was told to avoid tampons. I was pregnant and my cycle has not returned yet but I think this is going to work for me when it does! Thanks for the post.

jacqueline Paulson said...

I use the Diva Cup and Shethinx underwear. They both rock, it's great not spending money on tampons and pads every month.

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