One of my most requested blog posts is to write about my re-usable menstrual care regime. I’ve finally gotten round to it! Today’s blog post is all about what products I’ve tried, how I found them and how to choose ones for yourself.
My experience of switching to reusable menstrual care products
Since I got my periods age 11, I have pretty much used tampons. I’ve always hated the feeling of wearing sanitary towels. I never really thought about it too much until after I had my son and became exposed to people talking about menstrual cups online. I was attracted by many of the benefits that I read about such as:
- Menstrual cups are better for the environment
- Menstrual cups can lead to shorter periods as your flow is more free
- Menstrual cups may cause less cramping
- Menstrual cups save you money
- Menstrual cups have less risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome
- You can keep menstrual cups in WAY longer than tampons
First cup – Mooncup
So around 2 years ago, after my periods returned after my second child, I bought my first menstrual cup. I chose one of the most talked about menstrual cups, the Mooncup and used this for around a year. Whilst I loved many of the benefits of having the Mooncup, it wasn’t quite right for me. I was finding I needed to pee too frequently with it. Plus, when I did go to the toilet, I felt like I was struggling to empty my bladder properly. I also found the cup a little uncomfortable to insert and wear. After some googling, I realised that the MoonCup was too firm of a cup for me.
Second cup – Cuplee
I started to look for softer cups. Now a firmer cup like the MoonCup is easier to insert properly as it ‘pops’ into place more easily. Softer cups can be a little trickier so I wanted to find the right balance of what was soft enough whilst still easy enough to insert properly. I chose the Cuplee and I’ve been much happier with this cup. It is much more comfortable for me and now I’ve got the hang of it I don’t find it any harder than the MoonCup to insert.
Third cup – Intimina Lily
Intimina recently got in touch with me and sent me their Lily cup (affiliate link) to try which I did on my latest period. Unfortunately, after trying for 15 minutes on a busy morning, I just couldn’t get it to into place properly. It didn’t seem to want to unfold properly after inserting it. I’m going to go away and do some googling and have another go and I’ll update this post next period. I was time poor this period though so just went back to using the Cuplee again. It’s a cute cup and I love the pouch but it has an angled top and I have a slight tilt on my cervix and I wonder if that’s why I struggled with this one.
If at first you don’t succeed…
I would say to people, if you try a cup and it’s doesn’t feel right then don’t give up on cups entirely. You made need to try a few to find the right one for you. It’s expensive to do that I know but I do think it’s worth it for the benefits you’ll find.
Recently I got my period right when I was due to camp for 3 days at a music festival and there would be no running water in the portaloos to wash my cup so I took tampons. It was the first time I had used tampons in 2 years and wow, it reminded me how much better a cup is. I kept forgetting I had to go and change it frequently as am now used to just putting my cup in on a morning and then changing it on an evening. I felt frustrated by constantly having to remember I was on my period and to bring tampons with me. I also get a little cramping when I first insert a tampon that I do not with a menstrual cup. Anyway, this trip reminded me of why I’ll never go back to tampons!
My favourite things about menstrual cups – the real deal
Now that I’ve been using menstrual cups for a couple of years I feel these are my favourite things about using them:
- It’s extremely rare I ever leak using my menstrual cup. Way less than I used to with tampons and it’s usually because I’ve not inserted it right or changed it soon enough. I rarely stain my pants these days!
- Menstrual cups are way more comfortable to me than tampons or pads
- I love that I just need to pop my menstrual cup in on the morning and then can forget about it until the evening. At which point I remove it and wash it out and then pop it back in for the night-time. So much easier than changing tampons every couple of hours.
- I don’t have to deal with a tampon tube getting slippy from blood and then not inserting properly which used to drive me up the wall.
- No more running out of tampons and having to ask covertly around the office or wherever or having an emergency run to the shop with a toilet paper nappy. I always have my cup with me now.
- No more spending money on overpriced ‘luxury’ product tampons. My cup will last for years.
- Every period I’m helping the environment more than if I was using pads or tampons.
How to choose a menstrual cup – how high is your cervix?
There are lots of good guides online that explain this properly but the first thing you need to do is get acquainted with your cervix. This is another great thing about using menstrual cups – you learn more about your own body through using them. Some cups are better for high cervixes and some for low cervixes. You will need to insert your index finger into your vagina and see which bend of your finger it reaches to learn your cervix height – first crease is low, second medium and third is high. This article explains it well.
The menstrual cup actually cups the cervix, so its good to feel for where it is so you know where you are trying to position the cup. I actually feel for mine before I insert the cup each time so I know where to aim. This helps me get the cup positioned right first time.
I wish I had known more about my cervix before I had kids. I would have been able to feel the changes in my cervix throughout pregnancy and labour with this self-knowledge.
Once you know your cervix height have a google for the best cups for that cervix height. You will always want to take into account how heavy your menstrual bleeding is and the strength of your pelvic floor (namely your age and whether you have given birth vaginally). There are lots of good online guides out there. There are also some helpful Facebook groups like Menstrual Cups Worldwide where you can ask questions and get advice from experienced users.
My best advice is to have a shop around though. There are all sorts of fabulous menstrual cups these days from ones you can use during sex (affiliate link, below) to ones designed especially for teens.
Downsides to menstrual cups
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the downsides to menstrual cups. The biggest pain is having to wash and sterilise them between periods. Some people do this each time they change them but personally I just give a good rinse with warm tap water at the sink during my period and then wash properly and sterilise when I’m finished that period. You are water dependent, so changing in public can be a pain. You can use a bottle of water in a public toilet which works but is a faff. Thankfully, because you don’t need to change them often this rarely if ever happens for me personally. I usually get a full day with mine and change it around dinner time in the evening.
The only other annoyance with menstrual cups for me is inserting them can be a bit fiddly. Having a softer cup, sometimes it takes me a few goes to get it fitted perfectly. But honestly, once you get the hang of it, it’s not much worse than tampons and it’s nowhere near as messy as people think. I get more blood on me changing a tampon. Unless you drop it and its going to look like a scene outta Dexter pretty fast…
People say menstrual cups are gross but I honestly don’t get that line of thinking. You either have a wad of blood on a pad in your pants for hours or you have some cotton soaked in blood inside you, often making its way down the string and onto your pants. Why is the blood in the cup anymore gross? It’s always the patriarchy’s fault of course. If men had periods they would be bragging about their flow. We have this amazing bodily procedure that is a huge part of how we create human life on earth yet we are taught to be ashamed of it. To whisper about ‘periods’ if we need to speak about them in public. Hiding tampons up our sleeves as we scuttle off across the office etc. Enough! Nearly half the population goes through decades of experiencing this monthly. I refuse to whisper about it or feel shame. It’s time we were treated like the fucking warriors we are!
Where to buy?
A site with a great range of reusable menstrual products and good value prices is Feminine Wear, I’ve ordered from them before. You can often find products competitively priced on Amazon (affiliate link) too. I often google the products and then click the shopping tab to see what the cheapest price they are selling for is.
To support my new reusable menstrual care regime I decided to invest in some period pants (affiliate link) that I had been intrigued about for a while. Lately, there has been a lot more brands launch period pants but when I was looking for some there was only really the market leaders, Thinx.
You couldn’t even get them in the UK so I had an American friend ship me some. I have to say I really like them. They just feel like normal pants with a thicker crotch and they don’t feel damp or anything or make any noise like some pads do. Importantly, they don’t have any sticky glue on wings that’s gonna get caught on your pubes and give you a mini Brazilian wax.
UPDATE: Since publishing this I was sent some period pants by Modibody (referral link). I love the way these fit and feel (they are a better fit and comfort for me than the Thinx) but they did bobble first wear and are looking very worn after only a couple of wears unfortunately. Motherhood diaries has a full review of Modibody here.
I still reach for them over my Thinx pants though and I guess no one is seeing the bobbles so for me comfort matters most.
I especially like them for day one of my period and the last day of my period. You know the times where you aren’t sure if you need a tampon or whatever but you’ll wreck your knickers if you don’t.
I’ve found they can have a slight odour if you wear them all day with a heavy flow in warmer weather but less odour than pads. Personally, I prefer my menstrual cup for heavier flow days but I will keep wearing/buying period pants for those lighter, crampier days where I just want to stick my tracky bottoms on and curl up rather than inserting something into my sad vagina.
And seeing as though I won’t be able to beat that classic sentence, I’ll end this blog post there! Any questions though, leave me a comment and I’ll make sure I answer as best I can!
Do you use re-usable menstrual products? Which ones do you like/not like?