Let me tell you this honestly, my moon sisters: I don’t pussy foot around a topic – especially not this one. It’s the pussy-footing around that keeps you from knowing the real deal and exploring options your mother never knew about when you first started “seeing red” once a month.
I want to talk to you about blood, your menstrual blood down there, the blood you don’t want to think about, look at or god forbid touch! I mean, if you have to deal with it, you might also have to accept that it’s your own blood, and that it has a bit of a smell (it reeks of fanny down there doesn’t it?). That’s what you’ve been told a thousand times from books, social media, the opposite sex and your peers. Well guess what, it doesn’t smell, and if it does, we all know that men don’t exactly exude a fresh and floral fragrance from their nether regions after a day cooped up in the old boxer shorts either.
I want to talk to you about your options when Aunt Flo comes knocking each bloody month. Most of you may think that it’s an either-or ultimatum between sanitary pads and tampons *cough, the devil, cough*, but what if I told you there were also secret options numbers three and four? I’d like to start with secret option number three: the menstrual cup.
Yo’ cup, Yo’ capacity
So what is a menstrual cup exactly? In short, it’s a brand spanking new concept for some of you reading this. A menstrual cup is a type of bell-shaped feminine hygiene product made from malleable, medical-grade silicone. The silicone that menstrual cups are made from is BPA-free, phthalate-free, plastic-free and latex-free. There is some variation between the materials used by different producers of menstrual cups, but as a general rule, medical grade silicone is a suitable blanket term.
A menstrual cup is inserted into your vagina during your period – much like a tampon – and can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time. In fact, you can get away with emptying a menstrual cup down the toilet only twice a day: I do this morning and night for example, then I rinse under clean water. Menstrual cups allow you similar levels of freedom as tampons, meaning that you’re able to exercise, swim and go about your normal, non-period day.
Wait a minute. I can hear you shouting that a little cup of blood inside your vagina is a freaky image. Is it though? Is it any freakier than having a bleached piece of pesticide treated cotton shoved up your fanny to dry out your vag? No, I say – no. Unlike tampons, menstrual cups sit much lower and act as a sort of plug (see diagrams below), catching the blood rather than absorbing it and preventing you from leaking. They collect nearly 100% of the blood flow, provided they are inserted correctly. Unlike tampons, menstrual cups do not dry you out and absorb the moisture from your vagina (instead they collect it), and they do not contain any toxic chemicals such as bleach, petrochemicals (derived from crude oil, of course) or rayon (please read my previous blog post which goes into more detail about these substances).
The tampon (the purple thing) sits much higher in the vagina, right up against the cervix, while the cup in the right diagram (the grey bell shaped thing) sits lower where it can catch the blood.
You have a death wish
Unlike tampons, there is no danger of Toxic Shock Syndrome with a menstrual cup – there have been many sad cases reported in the news of unfortunate women who suffered death at the hand of a tampon. While it may sound slightly comical to read that a small, white object with a string dangling out of one end could kill you, it actually could. It begs the question, why do we keep using them? I used my last tampon over a year ago and I will never use one again. I have been converted to the land of the menstrual cups, the land of the free and the land of the eco-aware.
COMING SOON: Cloth pads
Are you a fan of all things beautiful? Then you may be converted yet. I’ve built up my cloth pad collection over the past few months and I’m overwhelmed with the range of fabrics, colours, materials and designs on offer. In a future blog post I’ll share with you some images of my pads, because I doubt they look as you’d imagine.
VIDEO: A Quick Intro to Menstrual Cups and Cloth Pads
My first YouTube video on the Rehana Jomeen YouTube channel, in which I give a quick overview of and introduction to menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads.