I changed up my sanitary products for a more sustainable menstrual

F orget baking bread, discovering a language or producing a minute-long one-woman spoof deserving of Tiktok– my lockdown 3.0 self-improvement kick wasn’t going to be half so uplifting, nor so appetising.

No, my selected “hobby”, if you can call it that, while stuck inside throughout the limitless winter, was to finally get to grips with using a menstrual cup. It was the perfect setting: I wasn’t going to get “caught out” anywhere brand-new, questioning whether to change the thing in a public toilet. I wasn’t going to have an incident at work and have to cover my Hammer horror-esque groin with a sweatshirt throughout the day. Here it was, a blank slate of time in which to master this darkest of female arts. I was scared. I was excited.

There are all type of great reasons for changing to a cup, not least of all the monetary reward: it saves, typically, ₤ 4,900 over the course of a life’s- worth of ovulation and menstruation, according to a 2019 study by menstrual cup brand name Intimina. It means you’ll never ever get captured out without a tampon or pad, required to corner associates in the office loos and plead for spares. However, crucially, the ecological effect is huge.

For all that much of us may have happily swapped to Keep Cups for our coffee and recyclable metal straws for our G&T s, few people ever consider the amount of single usage plastic that remains in our sanitary items. Consider it: tampons are wrapped in plastic with plastic applicators, pads feature a plastic leak-proof base and often utilize artificial fibers in the absorbent part as well. When you consider that every menstruator will use in between 5,000 and 15,000 sanitary items in their lifetime – most of which will wind up in garbage dump as plastic waste – it’s an uncomfortable and sobering idea.

This was factor enough to make the switch– however there was another, more secret reason I was determined to attempt. Really, I wished to do it to prove to my inner feminist that I might get up close and individual with my own vaginal area; which I wasn’t grossed out by my own durations.

Our whole lives, we’re implicitly informed that our monthly cycle is disgusting. Something to feel embarassment and shame about. It exists in all the marketing– blood is represented by a blue liquid. We hardly ever see any tip of an actual duration, because that would be beyond the pale. As recently as 1 January, a tweet complaining that an illustration of a tampon– not even a genuine tampon– was “profane” went viral.

Even the items themselves have actually range built in so that you can disassociate with what’s going on down below. Applicator tampons aren’t just popular due to the fact that they’re easy to utilize– it’s since they permit us to keep ourselves at one eliminate from all that … unpleasantness. You hardly need to touch yourself, not to mention entered into contact with your womb lining. You can almost pretend it’s not taking place at all.

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Not so with a cup. You have no choice but to get stuck in (” stuck” periodically being the personnel word). Considering I was a first-time cuppee, I didn’t do a lot of research study before buying. Or any, come to think about it. While it had been in the back of my mind for a while, the purchase itself was done on an impulse– a spur of the moment decision while glumly looking at the pricy boxes of tampons lined up in my regional supermarket. Next to them was a “Hey Girls” cup. It looked enjoyable, it looked friendly! Most of all it looked low-cost by comparison– ₤ 9.48 for a recyclable item that declared to be in it for the long-haul (as much as ten years). Upon closer inspection, it turned out the brand was also dedicated to taking on period poverty, with a “Buy One, Give One” viewpoint that implies for every single product bought they would give one away. It was the extra resolve-hardener I needed to take the plunge.

For those on the borders of the menstrual cup world, the only brand you’re likely to have actually stumbled upon is Moon Cup. Undoubtedly, I was taken aback to discover that the market has actually truly blown up since it was scheduled for a certain sort of earth-mother-type with dreadlocks and vegan leather shoes. Moon Cup– and those pioneering, prescient females– may have led the way, but in their wake have actually sprung up a plethora of options: OrganiCup, Saalt, Eden, Lunette, BeYou, Intimina, Nudie, Nomai, Ruby Cup, Diva, Eva … the list is apparently unlimited. In such a way, I’m glad I had no concept of the large selection readily available when I purchased one. I would have been paralysed by choice.

By all means do your homework if you’re tempted to make the switch, however I don’t advise getting too hung up on it– they all have broadly the exact same make up, forged from medical grade silicone and shaped, well, like a cup, with a little deal with on the end for much easier removal. Simply guarantee you get the best size (there are normally just 2– little ones for youngsters who haven’t given birth, larger ones for everyone else) and take it from there.

Not to get too graphic, however using a cup made me understand just how little I ‘d truly learnt about my anatomy. Utilizing applicator tampons for nearly twenty years indicated I ‘d never ever truly got up therein, as it were, and so the very first time trialling the cup was intimidating. But I kept at it, trying my own ignorance, and each time it got a little much easier– the folding, the insertion, the twisting and positioning, the sensation to inspect the positioning was right.

✕ The first ever duration blood shown in digital advert

I was glad I ‘d began the whole organization from house, because to begin with I was pretty sluggish– and wouldn’t have actually appreciated the included time pressure of a slowly growing line outside a public girls’ toilet– plus I had a couple of small leakages when I had not found out how to put it in right. But by the end of my first cycle, boom! Just like that, it clicked into place. And I was entrusted one bypassing question: how did it take me this long to attempt it?

The cup was so comfy I forgot it existed even when working out, I could opt for the best part of a day without emptying it, there was no odor, no leakages, no nothing. Most importantly, I felt a lot more comfortable with my bits and rooting around in them; I lastly stopped feeling detached to– and weirded out by– my body and its excretions; I finally broke without a lifetime’s brainwashing.

The tampon is dead: long live the cup!

Tips for novices

Ensure the cup is wet

I did not understand this on my very first go. It’s common sense truly, that attempting to put a significant piece of bone dry silicone up there … well, it’s not that pleasant. Make sure you wet it from the tap initially, or you can use lube if chosen.

Rearrange it as much as you need to

You can’t just push a cup in and hope for the best– if it’s going to feel comfy without any leak, it has to be in the right area. If you can feel it’s still folded or scrunched up as soon as within, it ain’t going to be a goer. In some cases it goes right very first time, other days it simply isn’t working and takes a couple of shots. It always exercises in the end however– simply be patient, stay calm, and take it out and try once again as many times as you require to.

If you need to wee a lot, it’s not in the best place

If it’s not in the right position, the cup can press on your bladder and make it feel like you continuously need the bathroom (I write this from experience). It might require to go higher up or lower down depending upon your anatomy– experiment and find your perfect positioning.

It will constantly come out

It’s tough not to worry in the beginning that the cup will not get stuck in there. It goes relatively far into your vagina and forms a seal– which suggests that, if positioned correctly, it doesn’t leakage. Huzzah! This likewise means it can seem like it’s not going to come out– but, believe me, it constantly does. One technique I’ve stumbled across is to utilize toilet paper to assist you acquire better purchase on the handle when pulling– it works on the very same concepts as utilizing a dry dishtowel to get a grip when opening a jam container. Always breathe deeply and keep calm too, as tensing up clearly does not assist matters down below.

Remove your cup over a toilet

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