I’m grateful to say that business here has really picked up. While I love being busy, sometimes that means I go 12 hours without running to the bathroom (I know, I’m working on it!). Whenever I have my period, I always stress about making sure I have enough time to get to the bathroom and change. I also always think that since I’m the only person working in my office, if anyone uses the bathroom they are going to know I’m on my period. The proof is in the waste basket.
Since I talk about menstruation almost all day every day with women, I figured it was about time I got to know some different ways to handle my period besides the conventional pads and tampons. Let’s face it, pads feel bulky and move around a lot while tampons are great but if they don’t fit right they have a tendency to leak. A patient of mine told me she loved her diva cup, so I decided to give it a try.
Let’s get started with some positives of using a menstrual cup.
First there is the cost. Women use an average of 15-30 tampons a cycle. That’s potentially 14,000 tampons in a lifetime. While prices for each type of tampon may vary, the price of the average menstrual cup is $40. You still have to replace your menstrual cup and that’s recommended to replace every 6-8 months.
Next there is the waste. Without changing your tampon every few hours, waste will decrease. Aside from the actual tampon, the box packaging, the sleeve around the tampon and the insertion tube are all waste. Think how this alone saves the environment.
Then there are the women who suffer from irregular periods or a surprise period. Many women don’t always know when their period is coming and not many women want to be seen carrying tampons in their purse (especially teenagers)! All the cups I have purchased come with a soft carrying case so you can always have it with you, convenient and discreet. Plus, you don’t have to worry about carrying the right size tampon depending if you period is light or heavy. The cup will have you covered no matter what.
We all know about the odor factor. While pads and tampons can create strong odors or put chemicals in the materials to help suppress the odors, menstrual cups take out the odor because the menstrual fluid is not exposed to air. The menstrual cups also do not absorb the fluids as tampons do, which creates a healthier Ph balance, less irritation and less vaginal dryness. The cups are also mostly made of silicone, which is bacterial resistant. They also do not contain bleach and dioxin, which the world health organization has stated could possibly cause cancer.
Depending on your cycle, cups can be left in for up to 12 hours. This means you can get a full night of rest without having to wake up to change your pad or tampon. Toxic shock syndrome or TSS has not been linked to any uses of the menstrual cup.
In Chinese Medicine we are big on making sure the gut is balanced and the menstrual cycle. Most women don’t get a good look at their periods and when I ask them “what is your period like? What color is the blood? Is there clotting?” Many can’t answer the questions. Periods have become this taboo that we don’t talk about and we try to ignore even when we have it. But all those things can really tell a lot about why women aren’t getting pregnant, or having regular periods, or having pain. With the cup you have to pour out your blood into the toilet, forcing you to notice color, clotting and heaviness. While many women might be squeamish with this, it’s a great diagnostic tool for the next time your acupuncturist asks, “what are your periods like?”
Now for some negatives.
Using a cup can be challenging the first few times. You have to make sure you are prepared for a little mess. Some women also have concerns about cleaning in public bathrooms. I’m not shy, so this isn’t something that would bother me, but they do create wipes you can use when in public stalls. Don’t forget, you need to be ok with the sight of blood to use a cup.
Another negative involves inserting and removing. It’s difficult to insert the first few times and to make sure the cup is fully opened. The same thing goes with removal. It’s recommended to get your fingers around the head of it to release the suction, but it’s not always so easy. Again, after a few times you’ll become a pro at inserting and removing.
Allergy concerns might be a negative for some of you because some cups are made from rubber and latex. Please be careful and read the labels to make sure you are not purchasing something you might have an allergy to!
It has been recommended to talk to your doctor before using a cup with an IUD. Some women have issues with the string of their IUD while others are concerned about the suction moving it. It’s always best to check with your doctor before you purchase and use a cup.
Lastly, it can be an adventure finding the perfect cup for you! I tried the Diva Cup first, which was great but a little thick and challenging to insert. I also felt like it was too rigid for my active lifestyle, so I went with one from Europe, the Ruby Cup. It was a bit more expensive, but they donate a cup to a woman with each purchase and even have different colors. I prefer the black one, but it’s always good to get funky with some colors. Periods don’t always have to be such a boring thing!