An Ode to Menstrual Cups
Hold onto your hats ladies, this is where I try to persuade you to trade your 'clean' disposable sanitary products to empty a chalice of your own period, and use it repeatedly. If you haven't been scared off by that opening statement, here are my 5 points for why you need a menstrual cup...
1. If you flush your tampons down the toilet like I did for 7 years, this is really, really, really bad news for our water systems.
It is obvious when you are aware of it, but unlike toilet paper tampons are basically indestructible. Hence why they don't fall apart in your vagina. If you are in the high proportion of people that flush their tampons down the toilet, these are clogging up sewers and let's just spare a thought for the people that have to sort that mess out. Not only should we not inflict that on any other human, but we pay for this in our water costs the more and more it happens.
2. Disposable sanitary products are absolutely diabolical on the environment.
Time for some maths. Say you started your period at 15, and they stopped at 52. 37 years of a period a month to give you 444 periods. In my tampon days I probably used 5 tampons a day over a 5 day period. 11,100 tampons in my menstruating life. Pretty intense when you realise that not one of those tampons would degrade in landfill waste in my lifetime, or my (currently non-existent) child's, or even their child's. The use of disposable sanitary products are completely and utterly unsustainable for our environment, yet despite a lot of progress in consumer choices for other products to reduce waste sent to landfill, the lack of dialogue around sanitary product undoes a lot of this.
3. Despite reusing rather than disposing, they are safer and gentler to your delicate flower.
A common misconception I used to have was that re-using a sanitary product could cause germs to grow in it. Actually, sanitary product companies have come under criticism for not being transparent about the harmful ingredients that make up their products--and so far, they aren't required to by law. There has been speculation that they put bleach and perfumes in tampons. Not to mention the damage and irritation that can be caused by cotton fibres being left behind in the vagina. Menstrual cups are made out of completely hypoallergenic silicone, and sit far lower than a tampon which means the risk of irritation is no longer there.
4. Let's investigate the accompanying £ sign to the 11,100 tampon figure I gave above.
A well known brand of tampons sells 20 for £2 a pack. This makes tampons 25 times more expensive than using a menstrual cup over a lifetime. Considering the average menstrual cup costs £20 and will last a decade if you look after it, that's a lot of spare cash to spend on something else. Or maybe you want to donate some of it to Bloody Good Period who do some bloody good stuff aiming to end period poverty? Just a thought.
5. I guarantee that using them will be a different experience to what you expect.
Being completely honest I will say that the first time you use a menstrual cup, it will be weird and uncomfortable, like many new things are. It will probably take a few days to get used to it, but once you get the hang of it you will have a solution that most find undetectable compared to other products, and a liberating sense of knowing what's going on in your body, and making an environmentally sustainable choice that works for you.
Periods are not something that should be flushed down the toilet and not spoken about...whether it's period poverty affecting a growing number of women, or the fact that most women would say they have a headache rather than be honest about their menstrual cramps, periods are a feminist issue. That's why opening the discussion to have honest conversations about other options still seen as taboo is so important. Don't be afraid...
Article by Gina Chapman