Thursday, 30 December 2010

Not for the faint of heart

My last post of the year is not hair related. I am known to rave about products that I love and this is no exception, however, if you are of a squeamish disposition......walk away now!

We are talking periods and menstrual cups.

Having read a blog post over at Milan's fab blog, I began to look into these cup things. Here in the UK, the product is known as mooncup (but depending on where you are in the world, there are different names for it).

Here is a video to show you how exactly they work.

My review

1. How difficult are they to wear?

It took me the better part of a year to finally gather the courage to buy one. The whole idea for some reason was somehow odd and unsettling. However with purchase finally in hand, I can say it was actually quite easy to use. It does take some fiddling but once you get the principle, it is straightforward.

2. How messy are they? 

Not at all. You do get to see all the blood in the cup but that is about it. The cup is totally non-leaky. It comes in two sizes and if you find that your cup leaks, it is likely that you may require a larger size (note that the difference between the two is only 3mm anyway, but it could be important).

3. How often do you empty the cup?

It depends on your flow. The manufacturer recommends every 4 to 8 hrs. Personally, I changed every 2-3 hours on the heavier days (day 1 and 2) and then went every 5-8 hrs later. You can absolutely sleep with no leaks but be prepared for the cup to runeth over when removed (at least it did for me on day 1 and 2).

4. What is so great about them? 

They are comfortable, non leaky and actually the whole procedure of using them somehow feels better, cleaner, normal.

5. Are they good for the environment?

They are widely marketed like this but I actually would dispute this. The truth is you have to wash your hands twice before and after insertion, with plenty of rinsing to avoid putting soap into your vagina (yes I said vagina). I also found that often I had to flush the toilet twice (I did warn that this was not for squeamish!). Cleaning out the cup requires water too and my preference is to use hot water.

Repeat all this every 2-3 hours and there is a lot of water and heating that goes into the procedure. Sure you save on putting tampons in landfills or chemicals in high absorbency towels but I often think that water is a forgotten resource.

6. Can you give up the sanitary towels and tampons?

Tampons are gone but I personally prefer to be a little more careful and wear a sanitary towel even if there are no leaks. Better safe than sorry! The manufacturer suggests washable pads.......... now, initially I found the idea of the mooncup to be revolting and I got over that, however I do NOT NEVER EVER foresee a time when the idea, just the very idea of washable pads would be even mildly palatable to me (to me I emphasise)

7. Is there less pain, do periods last a shorter time?

Not in my experience.I had 'normal' pain and a normal length.

8. Do we really bleed just two to four tablespoons of blood during a period?

I always knew this was absolute rubbish. 189 ml (7ish oz) was my total. The cup is brilliant for measuring quantities as it has markings indicating the quantities.

I totally recommend this product, it did something that no tampon or towel or paracetamol could do. It gave me a connection to my body during my period. This is the first time ever (having cursed every single period, every single month since I was 14) , that I actually liked........yes, no need to clean out your ears.......liked my period.

40 comments:

  1. Yay ! I have been using Lunacup for over four years now and it is great. My periods are shorter and like you said, I am in better touch with my body AND the environment. I think in all this talk of natural hair and natural hair products many of us should take that next step and start looking at natural ways to take care of our bodies and surroundings. Thanks for spreading the word!

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  2. A great resource for menstrual cups (and there are MANY) is menstrualcups.org. Cups aren't for everyone and obviously different cups will work differently for different people. As a cup user for over a year, I also no long dread my period. Actually for the first few months I actually was excited for it.

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  3. I started using a menstral cup about 3 months ago and I absolutely love it. Don't feel bad about it taking you a year to purchase yours. It took around 3-4 years for me to purchase mine. The thought of actually getting blood on my fingers kept me away from it, but now that I have it and see it's not that messy I love it.

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  4. OMG Jc I never heard of such a thing! Wow. I love things that make you connect with yourself in a way that "modern" or mainstream products don't. Thanks for the info!

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  5. I've heard of this before, but this vid was one of the best; thanks! I appreciate your review b/c I'm thinking about it. One other consideration for cleaning (at least on the go) is the disposable personal wipes.

    As for the amount of blood, I heard years ago that the blood amount itself is small, but it colors all the other...things...that are expelled during menses.

    Question: did you feel it any more than with a tampon?

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  6. Im happy you brought this topic up! It also took me about 1-2 years to buy mine but not because I was squeamish, moreso because there were so many on the market and I was afraid I would be wasting my money. I finally got my DivaCup last month and used it. I love it. It wasn't messy at all and I actually enjoyed my period.

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  7. b - On the go, you can just wipe it clean with tissue and reinsert. Rinse it out at the next opportunity.

    Correctly inserted and with the stem trimmed to the right length for you, there is no difference in feel compared to a tampon.

    I personally found tampons an issue to insert. I used to pick smaller size because they were more comfortable to wear. This meant that I had to change them more regularly though.

    The cup looks larger than a tampon but it is very soft and flexible. It is remarkably easy to insert. Correctly positioning it and getting the stem height to a good level took 2-3 trials.

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  8. It's great to have a review the Mooncup. Thanks! This may be a timely post for some of your US readers. OB tampons are disappearing from stores all over the US (the company says it's temporary, but there are lots of panicked women - including me) and many OB users are considering cups rather than switching tampon brands.

    Just as an aside, I know you said that washable pads aren't your thing, but I found they aren't nearly as messy as I thought they would be. I think they're all kinds of awesome. GladRags had a great and simple idea for cleaning them on their site. Dedicate a (pretty!) teapot for pad cleaning. During each period, fill the teapot with cold water. As the pads are used, just stick them in the teapot to soak. It's easy to drain and change the water every day without touching the pads. Later the water can be drained and the pads tossed in the washer or hand washed in the sink.

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  9. Thanks for sharing Katie! Your description helps take away the 'ickiness' factor.

    I used OB tampons and switched to lil-lets, I found them very similar. Not sure if you have lil lets in USA though.

    However, the cup reigns supreme. I am not looking back!

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  10. Thanks for the review! I've heard about washable menstrual pads and menstrual cups. I think I'll try a menstrual cup.

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  11. I've heard so many great things about these products but I haven't gotten up the nerve to try one for myself.

    I guess I'm just become used to the familiarity of tampons. I do, however, get tired of purchasing them every month.

    Thanks for posting.

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  12. Thanks for the shout out! Yes girl, I luv my menstrual cup: Diva Cup. Way more carefree than pads or tampons and less messy in my opinion. You brought up a good point about extra water usage. I never thought about that; I just liked the fact that it was less sanitary napkins clogging up the already clogged landfills. i think I'm going to look into those washable pads next though. Thanks to my DivaCup, I don't use pads but on my last day b/c there's no point in using the cup.

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  13. LadyCup user here! I have not even TOUCHED a pad or tampon in so long. I cannot even fathom how much money I've probably saved!

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  14. After cutting my own hair and jumping into the deep end of the pool to learn to swim, I'm pretty much ready to try anything.....well anything. My only concern is having to empty the cap in the middle of a working day with all the washing and emptying involved. Did you find this to an issue?

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  15. Good post. I used to use them before I had kids and then sort of forgot about them. Maybe I just fell out of the habit. I think I'll go back to the cup. I faintly remember liking them and using them being absolutely no big deal whatsoever.

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  16. Thanks for letting me know about them Milan!! :)

    Mad about my fro - At work all you need to do is wash your hands first, take out the cup, pour out its contents then wipe it with tissue and reinsert. You can use a wet piece of tissue if you wish (some people on websites do recommend wet wipes but it is not recommended by the manufacturer to use products with soap or perfume as they can be irritating).

    It will take longer than normal to do all this (maybe 5 full minutes) but it is pretty straightforward.

    As soon as I get home, I will then rinse the cup with water.

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  17. I really liked my DivaCup for the short period of time I was able to use it. Unfortunately I have fibroids and in my case I'd have to empty it every hour on the heaviest days. Once I get rid of them I hope to go back to using the DivaCup because it does make a lot more sense than tampons.

    I just had to laugh at the 2-4 tablespoons comment. I was told that when I was a kid (got my period shortly before turning 11) and I didn't buy it even THEN. Who on earth has a period that light?

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  18. I read a post of Milan's and purchased one too! I will be honest, I am just mastering it and plan on using it starting Day2 next month, I was not doing so well with placement before but I'm much better now. I think. Definitely worth the $25 buxx.

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  19. I have a Diva cup and I kinda like it. It leaks though...my flow is really heavy :(

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  20. I never liked tampons, so if this feels anything remotely similar to a tampon, it's not for me.

    My sister says they're great though.

    By the way I think this is a great post, to talk about something else women-related, besides hair.

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  21. @Alana DivaCup comes in at least two sizes, if I'm not mistaken so perhaps you can move up a size if you haven't already.

    I've had my DivaCup for several years and have been using it intermittently since the birth of my second child.

    It really forces me to be in tune with my body: I find that any stress, anxiety or general need to "rush" means that I can't put the thing in correctly.

    On the up side, I find that there's absolutely no smell with these menstrual cups. Use it, then switch back to pads (or tampons if you use those, I guess). To me the smell is shockingly obvious with pads which I never would have realized had it not been for the DivaCup.

    Try it ladies, you'll love it so much that you'll consider giving menstrual cups as gifts. Yes, I went there :lol:

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  22. lol Natasha - I love it :)

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  23. Hi Jc! It took me 3 years to finally purchase one (i actually got a friend in london to get me one, cos they are virtually impossible to find here in the Netherlands, apparently there wasn't a market for them here). I used it for the first time last month (periods finally returned 9 months post-partum) and oh gosh, i loved it! i am not squeamish so everything went well. agree with you on the water use though, but glad not to have to buy tampons again!
    i also use a sanitary towel, better safe than sorry, though must say i have had no leaks (empty every 5 to 7 hours, except at night, when i only emptied the next day 7-10 hours).
    i love it!! and would totally recommend it! :)

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  24. I've been using the Diva cup for nearly 2 years and haven't looked back. I use it with cloth pads on heavier days and alone on lighter days. I find that it doesn't cause the "dry" feeling that tampons cause and isn't as messy or smelly as pads. I haven't had any problems with pain and I've been able to use the same cup size before and after pregnancy (about 6 months post-partum). As far as usage goes, my experience has been very similar to Jc's. It's really been a wonderful experience all around. Periods go by with less fuss and mess. On a similar note, I've noticed that drinking Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea (3-6 cups a day) a few days before and for the first few days of my period have SIGNIFICANTLY reduced cramping and backpain associated with menstruation. Not sure why it works but it has changed my life for the better!

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  25. How funny-- I just started using a menstrual cup two months ago (a brand called the "Diva Cup," ugh...but I've gotten over the name). I'm still getting the hang of using it, but I definitely like it, and am definitely done with tampons. I do agree that a pantyliner or pad is necessary for me, until I master this thing though!

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  26. Have you seen this one?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oddzu_Qf9gY&feature=player_embedded#!

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  27. I've been using a Divacup for a few years now. Regarding water usage, I found a dramatic difference in ease of use and environmental friendliness when I started changing mine in the shower. On heavy days I change it once in the morning shower and once in a nighttime shower. You don't have to worry about spillage, flushing toilets, getting your hands messy, extra water/time, etc. because you're already in the shower. I wear a pantiliner as a backup on heavy days at work.

    Gem

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  28. @ Natasha: Oh wow (in a positive way) about the smell factor. That's good to know.

    @ Applesauce: Their Tension Tamer's tea is another good one. Try it if you want a change of pace.

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  29. I tried using one of these I think it was the diva cup. I'm too small.

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  30. This product is just like the Diva Cup. I've been using that for years now. I just want to comment on the 2 sizes. The whole think about the size difference and vaginal birth is silly since as you can see the size difference is minimal. Personally, I find that the large cup is better for my 2nd and 3rd days when my flow is more regular and the smaller cup is nice for 1st and last days of my cycle when my flow is less. I've never had a child and both fit. As you can see the size difference is minimal. I brought my 2nd one and got size A when i left my Diva Cup at home during a trip once. I didn't want to have two of the same size and i found that the larger size is a nice option for heavier days or when i'm active.

    I love my Diva Cup. I'm glad women are sharing it and others like it.

    for women who like this you may also like the keeper, Diva Cup and luna pads.
    Cheers!

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  31. @ Ashley-Eve

    There's a few menstrual cups that are quite a bit shorter than the diva cup (which is actually the longest of all the cups). Femininewear is a online shop that has all the brands there if you'd like to try these again. :)


    @ Natasha

    I totally agree with the smell.

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  32. I have had mine for over a year now and it is useful to me as I have fibroids so tend to spot during periods esp. now i have been switched over to the pill. I love using it as it is less of a mess and once I get it in the right position I am good to go. It took me a while to figure out the most comfortable way to wear it and of course knew very soon i needed to trim the end but now i wouldn't be without it :)

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  33. This is good stuff! I especially like how you said it made you actually like your period. I felt that way when I discovered `super-plus` tampons.
    I wrote a post about this divacup/mooncup a while back. You can check it here: http://anyaposh.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-uterus-jill-scott-on-marriage.html

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  34. i saw the diva cup in a local health food store but I thought the idea of a cup in your vagina during your period was so absurd, but I am really curious now and I want to try it.

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  35. is there an option for ppl who haven't had sex yet and wud b very tight? i like d idea of d cup bt will it b ok? never used tampons either

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  36. Ify the advice given is that the cup is perfectly fine to use if you are a virgin. The only issue (which is the same as for tampons) is that if you want to try and keep your hymen intact then you should NOT use it.

    In my opinion, the cup is easier to insert but tampons are far less intimidating and perhaps should be your first step (unless ofcourse you want to keep your hymen intact).

    In truth a virgin is not actually 'tighter' than a woman having sex who has not had a vaginal birth. It is more a case of apprehension which is perfectly understable.

    I think that ultimately you should only do what makes you comfortable. Keep the cup in mind for later when you are ready, don't rush!

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  37. thanks for expaining. don't think i have d hymen intact anyways cuz i dance nd all so yeah will most def try at some point. thanks

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  38. JC, thanks for this post. I'm using the diva cup for the first time. I decided give it a try after
    reading this post. Well I love it, its the best thing I've bought in a long time, thanks for the job you're doing. Also I've been extensions free for over six weeks now, don't know if you remember all my ramblings about this.

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  39. jc, how do you prevent blood getting in the crevices of your fingernails when inserting ?what about geting the cup out in work bathroom without spilling it ?

    also, i cant believe people like ob tampons. they have no applicatior. one has to stick their germful fingers up their vagina!

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