For those of you in possession of a vagina, you are most likely experiencing menstrual bleeding at regular (or not so regular) intervals. For a lot of people learning to manage their periods is a major part of growing up. And most people, either through school or a parent or a friend have had some level of education as to the options presented to them to manage it. Pads and tampons are the most commonly discussed method. But there are other options out there from period pants to menstrual and that’s what we are going to talk about!
So what is a menstrual cup you ask? It is a soft cone shape made usually out of medical grade silicone which is inserted into the vagina where it collects the menstrual blood. A bit like a tampon but instead of absorbing the blood, it collects it. You then empty the blood into the toilet, give it a rinse and re-insert it. But this sound weird, difficult and gross why would I want to do this?
Well there are lots of advantages:
1) it is reusable, you only need one and it can last 5 years or more which makes it great for the environment
2) whilst it typically has a slightly steep start price of around £20-40 it saves you loads of money in the long run, I personally spent £25 and broke-even (i.e. if I had purchased my usual disposable products) in about 4 or 5 months. And remember it lasts upwards of 5 years!
3) It doesn’t have anything in it that you don’t necessarily want going near your personal parts. Unfortunately there are little to no regulations on what gets put in disposable period products. Your vagina is amazing in that it is self-cleaning and maintains a perfectly acidic pH – you don’t really want to do anything that might mess that up.
4) It can last up to 12 hours! This obviously depends on your flow and what size cup you go for, but I have a medium flow and went for a smaller cup. On day 1 and 2 which are my heavier days I change it 8 hourly and then on days 3 -7 12 hourly. This means that even on my heaviest days I can generally empty it when I get up and then ignore it till I get home from uni later on at about 4.
5) You get to know your body in a whole new amazing way, I now have a much better idea as to the length of my period, how much I bleed on each day and where my cervix is. I didn’t actually know that the cervix moves around during one’s cycle but it does. I know when my period is almost over because my cup starts to migrate up inside my vaginal canal (not that far only like 2cm, it’s not running away) as my cervix moves up. Knowing what goes on with your sexual health when everything is ok means it’s so much easier to spot when something is going wrong!
So I want one but what should I do?
1) as with anything, go have a google, see what others are saying, read some reviews of particular bands. There is lots of stuff out there on YouTube, a favourite channel of mine for this is Precious Stars Pads.
2) If you want it to last make sure it’s from a respected brand and made of an appropriate material – medical grade silicone is best. I have heard of people buying a knock off to try it out before investing, but I didn’t do this and so cant personally comment on the validity of this, my personal feeling is that the more expensive ones are probably better made and therefore a different experience.
3) once you have it, double up with a pad for the first cycle and give yourself a few cycles to get used to it, it is a skill putting it in so that it doesn’t leak but once mastered quickly becomes second nature.
Don’t decide it isn’t for you after just one cycle.
I personally use the lunette model 1 in a fabulous lilac colour, but there are so many out there with different shapes and sized and stems so have a look and see what you think will work for you 😊
Lastly how you manage your period is your own personal choice, there is no ‘right’ or ‘better way’, whilst I love my cup, think it’s amazing and encourage all my friends to try it, its not for everyone. If you like pads or tampons, or something else I don’t know about then go for it its your period not anyone else’s!
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.