I think it’s about time we had a chat about my favorite menstrual product – and I don’t mean pads and tampons. We have so many options available to us now. We have menstrual cups, menstrual discs, period pants, reusable pads and many more. These options are not only more sustainable than traditional, disposable pads and tampons, but oftentimes they are more comfortable too. Today I wanna do a deep dive into my absolute favourite – the Mooncup.
I don’t know about you, but when I first got my period I was introduced to disposable pads. As I got a bit older I then started using tampons. I honestly thought that they were my only two options. I was a tampon girl for years and years, but once I had children I just couldn’t wear a tampon anymore. I don’t know exactly what changed, but something definitely did.
struggling with tampons
A tampon just would not stay in place for me anymore and if you ever had a dry tampon wiggle it’s way out of your body- you know how horrendous that feels. I thought my only other option was pads disposable pads. I hated them. They just left me so uncomfortable. I hated being on my period because I always felt wet and gross.
It wasn’t until I saw a Facebook ad for Mooncup, that I even considered that there were other options out there. I had heard of a menstrual cup before, but I didn’t know that you could actually buy one. I just thought that this was one of those things that exists but people don’t actually use.
I’d absolutely reached period rock bottom. I’d had enough. I needed something else. I was so unhappy wearing disposable pads, so I decided I’d give Mooncup a go. Honestly, it opened my eyes to a whole other world of period products that I’d never considered before.
a more comfortable alternative to tampons
Mooncup went from something I’d never heard of to being my absolute favourite. This is my go-to period product. Every single month. Without fail. If you’ve not heard of a Mooncup before, it is a funnel shaped silicone cup that sits inside the vagina to catch your menstrual flow.
If you’ve never used one before, I kind of like to think of it as a reusable tampon – except it’s nothing like a tampon! It’s similar to a tampon in that it sits inside the vagina. That’s as far as the similarities go. So, it’s kinda like a tampon – but really nothing like a tampon.
If we are going to compare a menstrual cup to a tampon, let’s have a look at some of the advantages. I mentioned the horrendous feeling of a dry tampon wiggling its way out of your body, but one of the advantages with a menstrual cup is that it’s not drying like a tampon.
A tampon absorbs your menstrual blood so it’s designed to suck in moisture. Whereas a menstrual cup collects the blood. It’s a big difference. Absorb and collect. The menstrual Cup collects the blood so it doesn’t suck in moisture to keep your blood in check. It just collects it in the cup.
can you get TSS from a menstrual cup?
My personal experience with the menstrual cup, and specifically the Mooncup, is that it’s way more comfortable than a tampon. You don’t get that drying sensation and you remain naturally lubricated in the vagina because the menstrual Cup isn’t sucking in moisture.
Another really great advantage of a menstrual cup over a tampon is that menstrual cups are not usually associated with toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Most tampon users will know TSS quite a high risk factor that you have to take into consideration when using a tampon.
It’s not to say there have not been any cases of toxic shock syndrome associated with menstrual cup use, but the risk is very small. In those cases where toxic shock syndrome has come out of menstrual cup use, it’s been noted that this is because of user error.
One case reported that the user had not emptied the cup for more than a week. The recommended emptying time is between 8 and 12 hours depending on your brand. To leave it in there for a whole week is just not a good thing. Don’t do that. It’s not going to end well. Even if you don’t end up with toxic shock syndrome I don’t think it would end well anyway.
Struggling to get the rest your body is so deeply craving?
Scared to try a menstrual cup?
If I think back to 15-year old me putting in a tampon for the first time, it was a pretty daunting experience. I’d never done it before and it felt a bit scary. I had no way of knowing if I was doing it right. I mean I’d read some teen magazines which gave you instructions on how to put a tampon in. I remember reading that in a magazine somewhere, so I had a rough idea of what I was doing, but still I had no idea if I was going to get this right.
I think the same can be said for the first time you use a menstrual cup. It can feel like a pretty daunting experience. You’ve got this brand new product that you’ve never used before and the concept of it feels a little alien because it’s not necessarily something that we’ve been introduced to in the media growing up.
You see adverts for tampons and pads on the television all the tim. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad on television for a menstrual cup. It’s different. It’s alien. It’s not something we’re necessarily used to.
I think because of that, you’ve been introduced to this new product you’ve never really seen before. You somehow have to work out how to get it inside you, as well as figuring out how to not make it leak, and how to empty it, how often to empty it and what do you do if you’re in a public bathroom. All these things going through your head makes it easy to “the fear” and be put off.
Luckily for me, my first experience with a menstrual cup was plain sailing. I think I just got lucky in that I got the right cup for me the first time round. Since using the Mooncup I decided to to give some other cups a go, just to see if all cups are created equal. I’m going to say that they’re not.
I managed to get the right cup for my on my first try. But there are different cups out there for different bodies, which is a very good thing! It means there is an option for everyone, but it might also mean that you have to do some trial and error to find the right cup for you.
If a cup didn’t work for you the first time you used it keep trying. I was lucky with the Mooncup, but when it came to trying a menstrual disc for the first time it was horrendous. After about 3 cycles I’d gotten the hang of it, but the first time was not the easy experience I’d hoped for.
how to position a mooncup
I couldn’t get the disc to stay in place and then when I did eventually get it to stay in place it leaked everywhere. I was emptying it out and I’m like “how is there blood on the underside of it but not on the inside of it? Like, how is that even possible?”. But the one thing I wasn’t taking into consideration is where my cervix actually is.
So, a real quick anatomy lesson. You’ve got the vulva (which is the outside parts of your genitals – the bits you can see), you’ve got the vagina (which is essentially the tube inside you that leads to the cervix), and then you’ve got the cervix or the neck of the womb. The cervix is where the blood comes out.
Your cervix is like spongy doughnut shape. When you insert a menstrual cup, you want to be sure that your menstrual cup (or your menstrual disc) sits underneath your cervix so that the blood comes out of the cervix and into the cup. I didn’t realise that this was possible, but there is the potential that you could wedge your cup or your disc next to your cervix instead of underneath it.
This brings me to another really good point about menstrual cups. I mentioned that they’re comparable to a tampon in that they sit inside the vagina, and that’s literally as far as the comparisons go. The idea with a tampon is to stick it up as far as it will go without it being uncomfortable. Menstrual cups are not like that. You do not have to shove it in so far that it feels like it might come out of your throat! The menstrual cup actually sits really low down in the vagina, which makes it more comfortable for a lot of people because it’s not as close to the cervix.
Why is my Mooncup Leaking?
Potentially, if you have used a menstrual cup and you’re finding it’s leaking – this could be something to look out for. If it’s not sitting underneath your cervix and you’ve managed to wedge it alongside your cervix, then it’s not going to catch the blood and it will leak.
Another potential reason for leakages with a menstrual cup is that it’s not opening up properly inside you. When you insert the cup, you fold it in half, put it inside your vagina and then it should pop open inside of you and create a vacuum seal. That’s what stops the blood from spilling out everywhere.
The thing is, if your cup doesn’t open up properly inside of you, then that vacuum seal is not going to be created. This means that blood can drip down the sides of the cup rather than being collected inside it. This is something I found with one menstrual cup I used which is much softer than a mooncup.
I found a softer cup was not a good fit for me because, essentially, my vagina is too strong! The walls of the vagina crushed the cup which meant it couldn’t pop open properly and create that all important vacuum seal.
I’m not saying softer cups are a bad option because every body is different. Every person has a slightly different vagina, so different cups are going to fit better for different people. But, in my experience, a cup that doesn’t open properly is going to leak, and it was my experience that softer cups don’t open up as well inside of me because they just get crushed.
I know plenty of people who prefer a softer cup because they feel it’s more comfortable. Each to their own. Every body is different. This is why you sometimes have to go through a little bit of trial and error to work out which cup is going to be a good fit for you.
There is a quiz on the Put A Cup In It blog that you can do. It factors in a whole bunch of stuff to give you an idea of which cup might be a good starting point for you. It’s not fool proof, of course. It’s not 100-percent guaranteed to get you the right cup the first time round, but it gives you a good idea of which cup might be a good fit.
How to remove a menstrual cup
Inserting a cup is relatively simple once you get the hang of it. It might take you a couple of tries but essentially it’s a matter of folding, insert (pro tip: use lube if you’re struggling), it pops open inside of you and then catches your menstrual flow.
What about getting it out? You’ll see that most menstrual cups have a stem or ring on the bottom of them to help you pull the cup out. A word of warning: do not just grab that stem and yank the thing out! Remember how I said a menstrual cup creates a vacuum seal? If you just pull that stem straight down without first breaking the seal, essentially what you’re doing is just tugging at a plunger inside of you. I’m no doctor but I don’t think that sounds safe or healthy.
The trick to getting your menstrual cup out is to first break the seal. The way you do that is my pinching the bottom of the cup before you pull it down. Remember, a menstrual cup should stay quite low down in the vagina, so it should be fairly easy to reach.
I’ve had a few people come to me and say “I tried a menstrual cup for the first time and I couldn’t get it out. I couldn’t reach it!” I think placement is a massive thing here. If you place your cup too high up you are going to struggle to reach it.That’s definitely a consideration when you first try a cup.
The other thing that can sometimes happen (especially if you have a high cervix) is that you can position the cup quite low down, but it wiggles it’s way up as you go about your day. If that happens to you, first of all, I would implore you to remain calm. If you’re tense, your body is going to tense up and potentially you could be pushing the menstrual cup higher up inside of you.
If you relax it should naturally come back down. It can’t go anywhere. It’s still going to be inside your vagina somewhere. It’s not like it’s going to have migrated into your kidney or something. I really think the biggest thing to do, if you’re struggling to get your cup out, is to remain calm and try some different positions.
Sometimes it helps to put a leg up on the toilet. Sometimes it helps to get into a squatting position. Just be as chill as possible and try to figure out which position makes it easier for you to reach.
It’s really important that you do reach the base of the cup and give it a pinch before you pull down with the stem. You need to break that seal before just yanking the thing out. There are some cups that break the seal for you when you pull on the stem. That’s a different type of cup and I’ve never used one so I can’t comment on how effective they are. But, if you are concerned that breaking that seal might be too difficult for you, you could definitely look into one of those cups.
Getting your menstrual cup out shouldn’t be traumatic, as long as you have it in a good position in the first place and you remain calm whilst trying to get it out. One of the thing that I often get asked about is emptying the cup. In a normal situation, in your own home bathroom, you would take the cup out, dump the contents into the toilet, throw your cup in the sink while you wipe yourself up and give it a rinse before you stick it back in.
For me, it has to be Mooncup.
Mooncup is an economical, eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads. It’s my all-time favourite period product and it totally changed the way I feel about that time of the month.
How to empty your mooncup in a public toilet
People often come to me and ask “what do you do when you’re in a public toilet and it’s a communal sink area?” I mean you don’t want to just waddle out of the cubicle with your pants around your ankles to wash your bloody cup in the sink. You’d probably get some funny looks and although periods are an experience shared by many, it’s not necessarily polite behaviour for a public place.
In this instance you have a couple of options. You don’t actually have to rinse the cup after every empty. I don’t like this as a solution necessarily. Menstrual cups come with an advisory wear of 8 – 12 hours. If you have worn your cup for 8 hours, and then you dump the contents in the toilet and just stick it back in – there’s going to be some residual 8-hour old blood that goes back inside you. While the old “no rinse” approach is offered as a solution for using public toilets, it’s not one that I’m 100% on board with.
Another option is to wipe your cup out with toilet paper or a wet wipe. If you carry wet wipes in your bag anyway, (biodegradable please) then you can can you wipe your cup to clean it out before you stick it back in. You’ll just want to make sure that your wet wipes are suitable for intimate areas.
If wet wipes are not your thing, you could take some bottled water into the toilet with you and use it to rinse your cup over the toilet. This is great if you’re the kind of person that just carries a bottle of water with you anyway because you’re always going to have it in your bag. You can literally take the cup out, empty into the toilet, rinse it over the toilet bowl with your bottled water and stick it back in.
I personally think the wet wipes option is the most convenient. I’d be a little wary of cleaning my cup out with toilet paper, just in case some toilet paper got stuck to the cup, but with wet wipes I don’t see that as being so much of an issue. The bottled water idea is also a really good one as long as you’ve got bottled water with you. It just depends what’s going to be easier for you.
Having said all of this, I have never had to empty my cup in a public toilet. I’m kind of homebody really. I don’t go out that much, and if I do it’s not for extended periods of time – especially when I’m bleeding. That said you can wear a menstrual cup for 8-12 hours. If your flow allows you to wear for a full 12 hours it’s possible that you could put your cup in right before you leave the house and empty it when you get home again. They don’t have to be changed quite as often as a tampon so you might not run into the situation of having to empty in a public toilet as often as you might think.
Mooncup is better for the environment, and your wallet!
Those are just some of the reasons why I think menstrual are brilliant – and I haven’t even touched on the environmental argument yet! If you have a think about all the disposable menstrual products that you have used so fa, what would that look like?
I mean, I actually can’t even imagine that. I can’t even visualise what that massive pile of used pads and tampons would even look like. But, if you were to picture that, think about all of the waste that went to landfill. Some of it most likely has ended up in the oceans too.
It’s astounding, and that’s only YOUR pile of used pads and tampons. What about everybody else in the world? If you’re someone who is looking to reduce waste, reduce your impact on the environment and be more sustainable – using a menstrual cup could be a great option for you.
It’s a “buy once, use over and over for up to 10 years” product. Yes, the initial outlay of £21.99 may seem a lot in comparison to a £2.99 box of tampons. But, when you consider a single Mooncup can last up to 10 years, it actually equates to around 13p per period. I’ll bet your £2.99 box of tampons seems expensive now. In fact, in the 5 years I’ve had my Mooncup I’ve saved over £190 compared to buying tampons.
I will never not say that I am a massive, massive fan of Mooncup menstrual cup! Mooncup was designed by women as a convenient eco-friendly alternative to pads and tampons. Made by people who bleed, for people who bleed!
Real quick, 3 reasons to consider a Mooncup:
✓ You’re struggling with disposable products and you need a better solution.
✓ You’re conscious of your impact on the environment and you want to reduce waste.
✓ You want to spend less money on period products each month.
A single mooncup can save as many as 11,000 disposable menstrual products from ending up in our landfills and oceans.
So, if you’re ready to give Mooncup a go, head to their website for more information.