Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Alternative Menstrual Products.

A few posts back, I mentioned I used a Mooncup.  I had never blogged about it before as I just assumed that ladies would know about it.. however, with the help of my support group, it soon came to my attention that some didn't.

Did you know?
  • A woman will dispose 16,800 pads or tampons in her lifetime.
  • Approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to North American landfills annually.
  • In the UK alone, 4.3 billion disposable sanitary products are used every year.
  • Disposable pads and tampons are made primarily of bleached kraft pulp or viscose rayon, the origin of which is wood cellulose from trees. What makes these products perform so effectively is the use of high tech chemicals such as super-absorbent acrylic polymers (SAPs) surfactant-laced gels and leak-proof plastic backings. The long-term health and environmental impact of these ingredients is contentious and largely unknown.
  • More than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas between 1998 and 1999. 
(Stats and Facts from Lunapad, Mooncup and Diva Cup)

I found out about menstrual alternatives about 13 years ago.  I had a new born baby and was already a cloth nappy convert.  I heard of the Keeper Cup.  Some friends used them and would talk about how great they were.

I decided to buy one, and at that time, the company were offering a money back guarantee!  I used it for a couple of cycles, but it was pretty alien to me.  Tampons were easy, clean and pretty much always reliable, but when I first tried the Keeper Cup, I leaked everywhere.  I was worried about leaving the house in case I leaked, and I just felt it wasn't right for me.  So, I sent it back and went back to tampons and pads.

Since then, other cups have come onto the market.  The Mooncup, Diva cup, Femmecup, Lunette Cup, and LadyCup, to name a few.

The original Keeper Cup is made from natural gum rubber (latex) and has been available since 1987.  For ladies who like everything they use to be from a natural source, these are ideal, unless you have a latex allergy!  The other cups are made of medical grade silicon, and eliminate any worries of latex allergies.  Some even come in a range of funky colours!

They are all essentially the same in shape, and perform the same function.  Most come in two sizes, pre birth and post birth (or over 30 years old).  The size of birth canal changes after you have had a child, and as you get older, so you will need a bigger cup than before!  Priced at around £16.99, they aren't going to break the bank either!

Last summer, I decided I would try the Mooncup.  I hated tampons and towels, and I am much older and wiser (and patient!) then I was in my early 20's.  I was really quite excited about it, and going in with a much more positive attitude helped!  Before I had been afraid to try again as I had failed with it the first time round.

It took a couple of cycles to really get used to inserting it.  Wearing it is simple, just like a tampon, you put it in and forget about it.  I had to cut the tail off completely as it hurt.  I cut it shorter and shorter until I couldn't feel it when it was in. It's still easy to remove and I have found the tail isn't essential to removal!

I leaked maybe once or twice during the first cycle, then, as I got used to inserting it, it became second nature.  Just like when I first started using tampons, it takes a while to get it right, but once you have, you don't even have to think about it.  I still wear a panty liner on the heavier days at the start of my period, just in case.  When the cup gets full, you may have a little bit of breakthrough bleeding... that's my indication that I need to empty the cup.  The cup can be left in for up to 8 hours without any worries of toxic shock syndrome, and because it's medical grade silicon, and not a bleached, chemical filled paper based tampon, it does not upset the pH balance of the vagina, nor strip the area of it's natural fluids.

To insert, you fold the cup up into half, then quarters.  I find it's easier to squat to get it in right, and if the cup is wet.  Then as you push the cup in, you let go of the folded cup and it springs open (a bit like a pop up tent!).  The cup sits much lower than a tampon, so it's quite strange at first as you don't need to push it in that far.  If it's not in right, I can feel it when I stand up, so I will take it out and re insert.  To remove the cup, you simply get hold of the base of the cup and squeeze.  This releases the suction and you can pull it out, being careful not to spill it!  Pour the blood down the toilet and give it a rinse under the tap, then use again!
Pads from Wemoon
My next step is to get some washable liners.  These are pads made from fabric that soak up any leaks.  They can then be put through the washing machine to be re-used.  There are some lovely ones available, or you can make your own!  If you are interested, visit Honour your flow, New Moon Pads, Wemoon, or Lunapads for more information.  Fuzbaby is a great site if you want to attempt to make your own!

Another alternative is to use menstrual sponges.  These are made from natural sea sponge and work like a tampon.  A pack of two will last around 6 months, and are a good choice if the menstrual cups are a no go for you.  Sea Pearls have a handy info guide for more information.

After using a menstrual cup for 8 months/cycles, I am converted!  I don't spend any money on tampons anymore, and a box of panty liners last around 3 cycles, so I've already saved the money I spent on buying a menstrual cup.  It''s better for the environment, and is really convenient!  I will never go back to tampons, and will soon be free of using paper pads too... It's a no brainer really.  I can limit the waste I produce by changing ONE thing.  If all women did that we would reduce the amount going to landfill by a huge amount.

Follow any of the links in this article for more information, and if that's not enough, check out some of these websites!

Plush Pants
Moon Times
Earthwise Girls


shipandanchor138 said...

Have you tried the smaller size? I had to get my mirena under general and a smaller speculum for my smear etc because I am really small down there [not all over unfortunately!] I would love to reduce my waste, especially for how long my periods last every month [if they stop at all!]

Cat said...

I haven't.. I just bought the size they suggested and it all seems good! It might be worth emailing one of the companies and asking what they think. Thanks for reading! xx

cnvbtet said...

I just ordered the DIVA cup and I am going to give it a shot. Your page inspired me. I just got diagnosed with PMDD over 2 months ago and have suffered from depression most of my life. I love your blog, thank you for all that you do, it helps. Blessed be!

Cat said...

Good Luck cnvbtet! I hope you find it as great as I do, just be patient and give yourself time to get used to using it. Thank you for reading and commenting.. it makes it all worthwhile xx

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