Ladies (and curious gents) let’s talk about cups and no, I don’t mean your bra size. I’m not one to talk about periods, in fact I hate the word “period” the way many hate the word “moist”. But for the sake of my female friends I will share with you, I’ve made the switch to the menstrual cup and you should have a crack at the cup too.
It’s the silicone sanitary product slowly and quietly revolutionising periods. A menstrual cup is used like a tampon but collects blood rather than absorbing it like a giant cotton ball. Feeling like quite the modern woman I was surprised to learn menstrual cups aren’t actually a new idea. These fully internal bell-shaped beauties have been plugging vajayjays for 80 years (seriously girls, we need to start talking to each other more).
Do you avoid using the word ‘period’? Yep, we do too. (Post continues after video.)
Grossed out? Most people are when I first tell them about my choice of menstruation mate but let’s face it, periods are already a bloody mess. I’m lucky enough to go on television shoots for work but when you’re filming for a full day without pee stops it’s a real pain in the arse when you’ve got your monthlies.
We’ve all been there; the panic look for a loo when Aunty Flo – the bitch – makes a surprise visit, using reflective surfaces like shop windows to check your bum for leakage, swamp arse after sitting for hours, oblivious men questioning why you’re taking your massive bag to “pee” or the awkward tampon-into-sleeve-tuck-toilet-run.
So my curiosity peaked when I heard menstrual cups can be left in for up to 12 hours. After a lengthy YouTube session (my favourite being a lady who used a sponge as a model vag) I figured periods couldn’t be any worse but apparently… they can be better.
Finding a cup wasn’t as easy as I expected, it’s an online job and there’s a lot of options out there. In Australia the three medical-grade silicone cups that can be legally supplied are: JuJu, Lunette and DivaCup. I bought a JuJu Cup (and no they’re not paying me to write this).
Allison. Image: supplied.
It took around three months to get the hang of things; the first month I was ready to burn the bloody thing, the second month I got the gist and by the third month I was converted.
Transitioning to a menstrual cup is similar to swapping pads for tampons, meaning it took some adjustment. I had it sitting too high (it doesn’t go up as far as a tampon) so leaked around the edges. The stem was too long for me so it felt like I was being stabbed (I chopped it off once I mastered removing the cup). Blood doesn’t bother me but when first faced with a cupful I was shocked (and weirdly intrigued) by how much there was but unfortunately turned the bathroom into a scene from CSI because I wasn’t steady-handed enough (emptying it morning and night in the shower fixed that).
While I found getting it in easy enough, getting the slippery sucker out was another story and required a lot of Googling and finding new muscles through the concept of “bearing down”. Funny story - my mate trying a cup at the same time just couldn’t figure out the removal, she totally freaked but solidified her relationship when her partner had to, well, lend a hand. Not to boast, but now I’m a pro at the cup and periods are such a tidy, non-issue for me.
Scroll through to see some of the menstrual cup options. (Post continues after video.)
The most common reaction I get from mates, post revulsion, is the why-fix-something-that-isn’t-broken attitude. But tampons aren’t all a walk in the park, they come with their own set of issues for your health, wallet and the environment. In Australia menstruation kicks in from around 11-14 years old and menopause hits in the late 40s or early 50s. So you’re looking at 300 disposable pads or tampons a year, that’s more than 10,000 in your lifetime. They take hundreds of years to biodegrade and with over 100 million women worldwide using tampons plus even more opting for pads our landfills are filling up.
These bad boys don’t come cheap either at around $100 a year or $3,300 a lifetime not forgetting the tampon tax. Sanitary products are deemed “non-essentials” so attract the 10 per cent goods and services tax (GST) – clearly a decision made by someone without a uterus .
Okay, so how much blood do you actually lose during your period? We have all the answers. (Post continues after video.)
Tampons are also related to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). For those of us who don’t realllllly know what that is, it’s when a bacteria releases poisonous toxins into the body’s bloodstream causing symptoms of shock and damaging organs & body tissue – it can kill you if it’s not treated. Yes, it’s rare but hearing about 27-year-old model, Lauren Wasser, losing her leg to TSS was an incentive for me to try a cup.
So perhaps it’s time to change more than your tampon, it’s time to change to a new product all together and have a crack at the menstrual cup.