So dear readers, we are finally here! We must confess that we have been holding this blog post back, waiting patiently with trepidation for the appropriate time to release… the KRACKEN! Okay I’m kidding, but no one can deny that the topic of periods tends send men of all ages running in the opposite direction and, more often than not, makes women a little uncomfortable (pun intended).
But I’m here to tell you that, because its woman’s month, the time to tackle this awkward teenager of a topic is finally here. So sit tight boys (yes even boys) and girls, grab a cup of coffee, and get ready to hear all about why menstrual cups are the future of the world and if you or your daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends and moms don’t make this change they will all be missing out on the best decision they could ever make.
If you are willing to give me just 10 minutes I can hopefully change your mind, your life and switch you (or your female counterparts) onto a product I now consider to be absolutely indispensible. I really don’t know how I lived without this product before. In fact, in light of this, I shall now refer to my life in two phases:
BEFORE CUP (BC) & AFTER CUP (AC)
Really guys, based on Obama’s faces alone this should be a done deal! But for those non-Obama fans out there (who are you people?!) here’s how I’ll convince you in writing.
WHY should you consider using a menstrual cup?
1.Saves you thousands
A woman has an estimated 450 periods over her lifetime, which means that woman will use approximately 9100 tampons or 11375 pads. Including an estimated annual inflation rate of 5 % that’s equivalent to about R36,700 on tampons or R73,400 on pads over her lifetime.
A menstrual cup, depending on the brand you choose, will cost you between R200 and R400 for 5 years of use. Even if we use the maximum cost of R400, at an estimated 5 % annual inflation, on average a woman will only have to buy 7 cups and will therefore only spend R6,500 throughout her life dealing with her period. On this monetary point of view alone this fantastic little cup basically sells itself!
2. Reduces your environmental impact by 99%
The numbers above are a good indicator of how many tampons and pads are being sent to landfills across the country (or even find their way to rivers and oceans!). There are currently 28.4 million women living in South Africa (Stats SA, 2016). In an ideal world where each South African woman has access to sanitary products there would be approximately 7.3 billion* tampons and 9.2 billion pads that will be sent to landfills per year.
*This is a rough estimate, as some of these women will not have reached puberty and some of these women will already have reached menopause, but nonetheless, you get the point.
With a menstrual cup you are talking approximately 7 cups per woman over her lifetime, which equates to 5.6 million cups going to landfill per year. Although it still sounds like a lot if we put that into percentages it looks like this – if all women switched to cups we could reduce our impact and annual waste to landfill by 99%!
3. Protect your health
If you start Googling this topic you will find so many conflicting articles it’ll make your head spin. So let’s keep this one nice and simple. Pads and tampons are probably not going to kill you, women have been using them for years with relatively few negative results. However, there is no doubt about that fact that using pads and tampons, and especially tampons, can increase your risk for infection down there. Tampons have lots of little fibres that often get left behind when you pull them out, which, at worst can result in the dreaded (but unlikely) toxic shock syndrome and at best can result in yeast infections and thrush. So long story short – why would you opt for the option that can potentially give you an infection when there is an option available that certainly won’t (obviously as long as you keep it clean with a little soap and water)!
Menstrual cups are made from surgical grade silicon, are 100% non-reactive, inert and won’t expose your body to any harmful fibres or chemicals. And there is no risk associated with leaving your cup in for longer (i.e. 12 hours), unlike most tampon instructions which put the fear of God into any poor women who forgets to remove their tampon after 8 hours. The only hygiene requirement for menstrual cups is washing your hands before and after you insert and remove it, which, honestly people, is just common sense, as well as boiling it for 3 minutes after your period is finished!
4. Improves your quality of life
The factors listed above are all amazing pros of menstrual cups and should have easily convinced you but if they haven’t, let me throw in a small testimonial. For me it comes down to the absolute joy of being able to insert my cup in the morning and not having to think about my period again until I go to bed that night. I have never had any leaks and I can gym, swim, sleep and run without even thinking about my period. Not to mention never again having to experience the very painful carpet-burn-equivalent of trying to insert a tampon when things down south resemble desert conditions! Basically this little cup has made something I strongly resented into something I don’t ever have to worry about. And I would never give up the freedom (that’s right, I’m going full cliché) that this little cup has given me!
WHAT if the concept totally grosses me out?
Then you’re just like every woman who’s bravely decided to take the chance and try it! I first read about the Moon Cup (a US brand) when I was at varsity and I thought, what a disgusting hippy idea, and it never crossed my mind again. Until I started to care a bit more about my environmental impact and finally had the income to back that concern, and so I started to Google more environmentally friendly menstrual products and purely by chance came across the Miacup.
The concept kind of freaked me out, how on earth was I supposed to get a silicone cup up there, when a tampon was already sometimes a challenge? And how did one empty and clean it without being totally grossed out and blood going everywhere? Part of me thought it seemed like more trouble than it was worth. And R400 was a lot of money to spend if it didn’t work. In the end I read so many positive testimonials on their website that I decided, what the hell, I might as well give it a try because if it worked my environmental impact would be massively reduced and I could save a lot of money in the long term.
When it finally arrived in the post I was so excited. Then I opened it, saw how big it was and I was suddenly a lot less excited. Holy cow, how on earth was I supposed to get this in?! Now another great thing about the cup is that you don’t have to wait for your period to practice inserting and removing it. Because it has no negative impacts on your body, you can practice inserting and removing it whenever you want. Menstrual cups also come in 2 sizes – basically pre or post giving birth sizes.
So, I read the instructions, in great detail, and gave it a try. It turned out that the silicone (kind of like silicone bake ware) was a lot more flexible than I thought it was, which made it easier than expected to fold it into a less scary shape. The first few times were definitely tricky and resulted in some accidental pinching of some rather delicate parts but with some practice I pretty much had it down and 5 years later, I don’t even think about it. Inserting and removing it is like second nature and because it’s flexible it moulds to the shape of your body!
I know at the beginning it seems weird and gross but you would be amazed at how quickly you realise how stupid that sounds in comparison to dealing with tampons and pads, now that’s gross. At least with the cup, the blood goes straight into the toilet bowl and is flushed away. The cup is rinsed clean and reinserted. No waste and no leftovers for someone else to accidentally see or have to deal with and therefore SO much more hygienic.
Because I can wear my cup for the whole day I only ever have to change it in the comfort of my own bathroom, which is so much better than fiddling with tampons and pads in grubby public toilets (I may be exaggerating to prove my point here!)
Finally, after each period you either boil your cup for 3 minutes or use some rubbing alcohol to keep it clean and hygienic. My cup came in a handy little satin drawstring bag which I store it in when I don’t need it.
WHERE can I buy my menstrual cup?
South Africa now has a number of companies making and selling these nifty cups. The one I’ve been using for the last 5 years is called a Miacup, which I love! But there are loads of other brands out there. Here is a list of a few of them:
We would love to see these cups lining the shelves at Dischem and Clicks and are trying to find out what’s taking so long for that to happen, but in the mean time you can purchase them from Faithful to Nature, Wellness Warehouse and Takealot, as well as a number of health shops around the country.
BEFORE you go!
Last but not least, in support of woman’s month, we’d really like to encourage our readers to sponsor a menstrual cup for a young woman who may not be able to afford sanitary products! Most of the websites listed above offer a service which lets you sponsor a cup for a young woman. This is a fantastic thing to do because all the women who switch to menstrual cups will recommend the product to their daughters and their daughters daughters, which means we have the power to change the mind-set of the next generation, which is pretty darn awesome for the environment!
If you have any questions about this or want more information please don’t hesitate to ask me! Using a menstrual cup has completely dissolved my embarrassment when it comes to this subject so bring on any questions you may have and I’d be happy to try and help.