Curious About Mooncup?
Mooncup is a safe and eco friendly alternative to tampons and pads. If you've been wondering how it works and if it works read this interesting and informative review written by one of NLW's site visitors.
Like most of us, especially if you frequent this website, I am always looking for new ways to be healthier, regarding myself and the environment. I recycle plastic, paper, cardboard, glass, and cans. I reuse or repurpose whenever I can, though my mind does not run toward the creative. I buy organic food, drink organic milk, and avoid the plague of high fructose corn syrup whenever possible. Sometimes it's difficult and time consuming, but in the end the pay off is there: it just feels better.
Also like most of us, I had not given much thought to my personal impact when it came to my period each month, or "feminine hygiene" (I hate that term- it makes it sound like women are inherently dirty!) In junior high, I started out with pads, just like my mother showed me. In high school, to my mother's horror, I switched to tampons because it seemed much less messy, and allowed for activities that pads simply couldn't handle. I switched to tampons without an applicator in order to cut down on waste, and I tried organic, unbleached cotton, which seemed like a good idea given the sensitive area they came in contact with. I honestly didn't know of any other options- pads or tampons were the choices, right?
Experimenting With Reusable Pads
A while back, I decided to take a new step- reusable pads. I ordered them from Etsy, and they are adorable. I did worry about the mess factor; I hated soaking stained panties in cold water to get rid of stains and did not relish the idea of intentionally buying a product that by its very nature demanded that of me. However, I had decided that it was worth it to me to cut down on the waste each month; after all, I only used them at night, and my flow then wasn't too crazy. (Maybe gravity was on my side while lying down?)
I Try Mooncup
Then, several months ago, I heard about a product called the Mooncup. It's a reusable silicone "cup" that is inserted like a tampon and collects menstrual blood. There are actually several similar products out there: the original UK Mooncup, which is what I have, the US version of Mooncup, The Keeper, and Divacup among them. Some products are made out of latex instead, but all follow the same basic design. It is a sort of bell shaped cup with a small, ridged stem on the end of it. I did some research online and decided to give it a try. I have to say, I love this product!
First, let me say that I am probably like most of you- I am familiar with my own body, but when it came time for my period, I didn't particularly need to see all the gory details (pardon the pun).
Of course, I understand how it works, and I respect that. But I was also used to the idea of a certain amount of distance from the blood. Sure, I saw it on a pad or tampon, but then I wrapped it up in toilet paper and discreetly disposed of it, generally with fairly clean hands. No muss, no fuss. I'd been doing it since I was 13, 21 years of practice.
The Mooncup demands a different kind of familiarity. Here's how it works: you take the cup, fold it twice on itself lengthwise, then insert it like a tampon. The silicone forms a seal, preventing leaks, and the cup collects blood for 4-8 hours. Then you take the cup out, empty its contents in the toilet, rinse it out, and reinsert it. Wash your hands, and there you have it: a solution that is better for the environment, since it eliminates waste, and is arguably better for your body, since silicone does not leach all the moisture out of you like a tampon can. Also, there is no danger of TSS from forgetting to take it out like there can be with a tampon.
Sounds simple, right? Well, it is.... kind of. While menstrual cups have apparently been around since the 1930's (who knew?), the technology was new to me. It did take some getting used to. First of all, when I received mine, I needed to trim the stem for comfort; according to the directions, this is very common. Some women even cut the entire stem off, but that's only recommended if your sure you can remove it easily without it. I had to cut a little more than half off. I also sterilized it in boiling water, also per the instructions.
Inserting Mooncup was not a big deal, although it sits a little lower than a tampon, so it took some practice. I found that adjusting it a little at a time was helpful to finding what was most comfortable and effective. Once adjusted, I couldn't feel a thing.
Removing MooncupAfter about 4 hours, I decided to remove the cup. This turned out to be a little bit tricky at first. I squatted down, like the directions said, which was awkward but effective. I could easily reach the stem, and I knew enough about my body to know things can't get "lost" inside, so I wasn't nervous.
I followed the directions and squeezed the base of the cup to release the seal, and gently pulled down.....nothing happened. It didn't budge. I tried again, bearing down a little to get a better grip on the stem. I reached a finger around the cup to release the seal and slowly moved the cup back and forth, and it came out.It was a little messy at first, but I was expecting that since I was new to it. It was also a little strange to actually see blood collected in a cup, but I rinsed it out and reinserted with no problem. ( I actually wash mine daily in the shower also, but a rinse after each use is fine too.)
My Thoughts About Mooncup
I have a fairly normal flow, not usually extremely heavy or light, and I change the cup about every 6 hours or so; it is usually not even close to full. I have had some heavier times, and in that case, I just empty it more often. Still not a problem.
I have not had any trouble with leaking, which was nice. I also like the idea of not having to carry around tampons or pads; I have even inserted the Mooncup prior to starting my period, on the day I expected it, just so I wouldn't have any surprises.
Unlike a tampon, it is not harmful to wear it "dry". I don't usually wear it at night, although it is fine to do. I will say that using the Mooncup requires a more hands on approach- you have to be comfortable touching and feeling your own body. This could be a bit off putting for some women. I have never been the full on, let's-look-at-ourselves-in-a-mirror kind of girl, probably passed down from my mother. But I have also never been particularly squeamish about myself either; it was really no big deal either way.
I have experienced a "lost" tampon in a panic in high school, a "lost" condom in college, also in a panic (though for a couple different reasons), and the frantic searching and fumbling with my fingers pretty much eliminated whatever mystery was left. This kind of product does seem to be more in your face since you actually see the blood and have to deal with it in terms of cleaning and emptying. And removing it does take some practice; I recommend practicing.
The price was about $30, which seemed expensive at first, but it lasts for about 10 years, so add up the cost of pads and tampons for 10 years and you'll end up way ahead with Mooncup.
The directions for use were very helpful and there is also a lot of info out there on the internet, reviews, etc. The cup comes in 2 sizes, for women who have had children and/or over 30, and those who are under 30 or have not had vaginal births. I'm not sure I'd recommend this product for very young girls, simply because it does require some skill and knowledge. Also, as with tampons, if keeping the hymen intact is a personal or cultural issue, than this product is not recommended.
I have also not done any extremely strenuous exercise using the Mooncup, but I don't anticipate that would be a problem. According to various sites the cup holds up to marathons and manual labor, so I doubt any activity of mine would dislodge it.
The Mooncup I have is the original UK version; evidently, a company in the US copyrighted the name "Mooncup" for its own distribution, so the UK company doesn't sell or ship there products here. I ordered mine online, from an independent distributor. Despite this policy, I received the original version, even though the website I ordered from said it didn't ship to the US ( I didn't read the fine print till after ordering- oops!). Somehow I still got it, whether by mistake or not. Either way, the Keeper, US Mooncup, and Divacup all offer the same basic idea.
I'm personally very happy with my decision to switch- I feel like I'm doing right by the environment by eliminating some waste from landfills, and it really does seem like a better idea to not strip the entire area of all moisture for a week or so each month. Tampons can be irritating and pads are just a pain for me, so this was a great choice. If you like the idea of a more natural option, saving money in the long run, and you don't mind a small learning curve (we all had to learn at the beginning, right?), then I'd say this product is for you!
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