Alright menstruators, you knew this was coming—if we’re going to talk about plastic waste, eventually we have to talk about periods. If you use tampons and are anything close to average, you’ll be responsible for 10,000 tampons entering landfill in your lifetime. They will not decompose in your lifetime.
The gigantic pile of plastic I am leaving behind for the next generation to clean up is why I’ve put the brakes on my plastic use. If you’ve tried quitting however, you know how hard it is. There is plastic everywhere.
At first I focused on the low hanging fruit. I swapped single use grocery bags for reusables. I swapped my single use coffee cup, and even straws long before I turned my eye to tampons. When June decided to run a sale on their menstrual cups, I decided I had no reason not to give it a try. If it worked, I’d have a great June period cup review, and if it didn’t—a hilarious story to share with you guys.
How it worked
My cup arrived almost exactly along with my period, so I had the perfect opportunity to try it. The cup came with a cute bag to store it in, and detailed instructions on how to use it. I followed their folding instructions, applied the cup, and waited to see if anything disasterous happened.
I couldn’t feel the cup while going about my business. It didn’t leak. It didn’t hurt, make me feel dry, or cause any irritation. In fact, it was like I wasn’t having any period at all. At least, until it was time to empty the cup.
If you’re at all uncomfortable with touching yourself, this will not be a good option for you. In order to remove the cup, you have to get a little personal with yourself. Unlike a tampon which has a string, the cup has a peg you need to grasp.
Each time I was able to pull the cup out without spilling any blood, dump it in the toilet, and thoroughly wash the cup. Seeing my own blood was definitely disgusting, but not actually as gross as some tampon moments I have had.
I didn’t have many of the issues I have read about from other women. Some problems did occur however, and these are worth talking about.
- The instructions tell you how to insert your cup, but not how to take it out again. Do not, I repeat do not just grab the peg and yank real hard. It will feel like you suctioned your brain out through your vagina.
Apparently you need to wiggle the peg from side to side as you pull it down, and then when its far enough out use the bottom ridges to break the seal.
- Just as I was getting my confidence with the whole cup thing, towards the end of my period the cup came out smelling like bilge water. It was horrible. To my relief, a quick internet search told me this does happen from time to time and it wasn’t some god awful yeast infection. I washed it very thoroughly and then wiped it with rubbing alcohol, and the smell went away.
- At one point the cup shifted and when I went to remove it, I couldn’t find the cup. Fortunately, I’d been doing a lot of reading and knew to use my pelvic muscle to push it down. One pretend poop later, the cup reappeared.
While I hope to eventually remove all single use plastic from my life, I won’t do it if it’s unpleasant. I didn’t switch to shampoo bars until I found one I liked as well as regular shampoo. If my bamboo toothbrush gave me splinters, I probably wouldn’t use that. My menstrual cup is superior to tampons in my opinion, and I won’t be looking back. Here’s why:
- No more stinking, nasty bathroom trash to take out.
I seriously hated the nasty period trash, the smell it gave off, the angsting whether to use a plastic liner or have to scrub nasty period trash cans—ick! The whole thing. My bathroom trash may still have trash in it, but it’s not smelly.
- No more blood spray.
I sincerely hope I’m not the only one who has taken a tampon out only to have it give with a nasty wet pop, and immediately swing and hit the bottom of the toilet seat, so now you have blood absolutely everywhere and have to clean the whole bathroom before leaving. Also when the tampon is too full and the string has gotten bloody.
I never got blood on me or my surroundings once with the cup.
- No 2AM trips to the bathroom.
I don’t have to sleep on a towel/wear an “overnight pad” big enough to be a diaper, or hold my crotch as I try frantically not to leak my way to the bathroom because a Super was not enough. These are safe to be worn for up to 12 hours (although I can’t imagine not freshening it in that time.)
All this and it’s better for the environment too. One cup can last as long as 10 years if properly cared for, which is thousands, upon thousands of tampons. Supposedly there are other benefits too: Lighter periods and less cramping are reported by as much as 53% of cup users. I haven’t used my cup long enough to know if I’m one of them.
I definitely loved my cup, and I’ll be having a few more related articles on the blog too. The founder of June gave me an interview to talk in more detail about cups, so we’ll be posting that next. Stay tuned!