I recently started my period after 587 days without thanks to pregnancy and breastfeeding. Leading up to this, and in preparation for it, I started to think about sustainable options. The cloth diaper world introduced me to cloth pads, and I hated pads in general as a tween, so initially avoided them. But then one of my favorite cloth diaper companies, Lil Helper, also makes cloth pads and other useful items, so I thought I'd give they're trial kit a try. I figured, if I hate them, at least they'll come in handy should we have another baby, for postpartum healing. I did a little "unboxing" type of video on Tea with Justine if you'd like to check them out. Simultaneously, I researched menstrual cups, and I thought I'd share my first go at them with you in case any of you are interested in trying more sustainable period products.
So, first of all, in order to get started, I was directed to www.putacupinit.com, which has a handy quiz you can take that'll make recommendations for cups that may work best for you, based on your responses. Taking this quiz, led me to Saalt. Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup was the top recommendation for me, and when I looked into the company, I liked what I saw. They're a B Corp, so their products are not only made without toxins, but are also ethically made, and achieving that B Corp status in general is tough, so it says a lot about the company. As a consumer, this matters to me. I went with their duo pack that comes with two cups, one for normal to heavy flow, and one for light to normal flow. The cost was $47. Let this sink in when you think about the thousands spent on period products throughout a woman's menstrual lifetime. The Saalt cups are supposed to last 10 years. I'm 32, almost 33 now, so I'll need to replace this a couple more times. Just from a cost savings perspective, this is incredible.
When I first learned of the existence of menstrual cups a few years ago, I thought they'd be inconvenient, because I assumed you'd have to change them out midday and how do you do that if you work in an office without a private restroom? Only when I did my research, I learned that you shouldn't need to change your cup for 12 hours. Although, if you have a super heavy flow, you may need to in between. So, cups are not only cost-effective, but also extremely convenient...unless you work 12 hours shifts or longer and don't have access to a private restroom.
How do they hold up in practice? My first go with the cup has been overall a positive one, though not without some minor challenges and getting used to. Per Saalt's instructions, some people have immediate success with cups while others may require a couple cycles for their body to get used to it.
The very first time I used my cup, I was nervous about getting it in right. Was it really going to hold up? Thankfully, it was a success! I had it in for 8 hours with no leaks, and when I took it out, I was amazed how "little" blood there was. My cup wasn't even half way full, and I did read that tampons and pads make it seem like we bleed a lot more than we do. So, it's just an interesting revelation.
Also interesting, was that I was so concerned about getting it in right, I didn't think at all about challenges I might face taking it out. Taking it out was much more challenging than I anticipated, at least at first. Now I seem to have the hang of it. But the thing with using menstrual cups is that you've got to get very comfortable with yourself. Society has taught women to be ashamed of our bodies, but that's just ludicrous and total patriarchy.
At the end of my first day of using my cup, I was excited to use it again for bedtime. This time, I ran into some leak issues. After a couple of attempts, I gave up for the rest of the night and just used a tampon. The next morning, for some reason I continued to have some issues, but finally got it right. I learned that I probably was inserting the cup too far up. My second night with the cup seemed to be more of a success at first, but after 6-7 hours, I started leaking again. I learned that sometimes in our sleep (or I guess maybe even during the day), our cup may travel up and "hug" our cervix, which would cause leaking. The key, I believe, which were written in the instructions, is to insert it lower than you would a tampon. However, I never really thought about how far I was inserting my tampon. I just inserted it and didn't think about it further until it was time to change it.
Third time's a charm though, because on the third day, I finally seemed to get it right without needing to re-insert my cup, and got through then entire day and night with no leaks. The remainder of my period went smoothly, and I probably could've switched to the smaller cup at some point, but I didn't. I'll try that next cycle.
I'm glad I made the switch, and as I hear many women say, "Why didn't I switch sooner!?" Actually, the real question is, why didn't I learn about these sooner? In SexEd, all we learned about were tampons and pads.
I also wanted to add that I made use of my cloth pads as back ups, too, and while I didn't use them as a sole blood catcher, I found them very comfortable and efficient. I mean, at first I felt like was wearing a pad, though not as bulky as disposable pads; but then I soon forgot about them. And I liked that I my skin never got stuck to sticky adhesive, nor did the pad bunch up.
While I certainly didn't miss my period, and forgot how much of a large piece of lard it can make a girl feel, I'm feeling very positive about my new period products, and excited to have a more sustainable option to make my small contribution to a greener planet.
Are you a cup user? Are you interested in trying them? Leave me a comment below and share your experience!