And here’s what happened.
Before I delve into my own experience with the exotic menstrual cup, I’d like to take a moment to think about all the generations of amazing women that came before us. During some of my most inconvenient periods I would wonder how women handled their own periods throughout history, so I decided to do some research on the topic and what I found turned out to be quite impressive.
So, pads and tampons became mainstream in the 1960s and 70s, but women have been crafting their own menstrual pads since forever, using natural products like papyrus, paper and buffalo skin. But also, back then women spent most of their fertile years pregnant and lactating – which meant no periods! – and if you have five or six kids, that’s 10 years of your menstrual life. So periods were not a regular occurrence every month, like we experience it today. That’s just mind-blowing to me because I had never actually stoped to think about all of this.
In 1929 the tampon was created, allowing women to do all kinds of physical activities (hoorayyy),but they were mostly used by married women, because nobody wanted a tampon to break a girl’s hymen, right? and virginity was extremely valued back then. By the time the 1980s rolled around all women embraced tampons and they were fierce, flirty and thriving – but the topic was still a taboo. The greater culture still wanted to pretend women didn’t bleed – Courtney Cox said the word “period” for the first time on TV in 1985. Crazy, eh.
So now we’re here. And I am very, very grateful for all these innovations that came before me because I can’t even begin to imagine how I would be able to deal with all my bloody garments had I been a young lady in the 1800s. I’ve always suffered from very uncomfortable menstrual cramps- although it’s gotten better over time. Over the years I’ve became increasingly annoyed at my periods. I’ve used pads most of my life because I’m paranoid and I convinced myself I would get toxic shock syndrome if I were tampons. But then pads became very uncomfortable and always made me feel like I needed to constantly shower.
Enters the menstrual cup. I was skeptical at first – and also a bit scared. I spent the next several months flirting with the ida of getting one and doing extensive research on how to approach the thing. I watched videos upon videos online and although the experience sounded terrifying and very complicated, pretty much everyone recommended it, so I thought how bad can it actually be, right? Then I learned the cup is a much more environmentally friendly option, and it’s actually a lot easier to just have it available whenever I need it. Also by switching to the cup I would save a considerable amount of money. Eventually I realised I just had to give it a try. After all, I had nothing to lose.
And what I have to say is this: please don’t be afraid to give the cup a try! It sounds daunting at the beginning but just stick to it. The first time I tried it it went surprisingly, suspiciously well, and I couldn’t believe it. You can leave the cup in for up to twelve hours and once it’s in you don’t feel it at all. I even rode a bike that first day! It was liberating and incredible. As far as periods go, HEAVEN.
I know I said it started out really well but plot twist: after a couple of months I started having some real trouble inserting the cup and taking double the time to get it right. To be honest when that happens it’s really frustrating and sometimes I just wanted to quit. But at this point quitting is just not an option for me anymore. I love the freedom the cup gives me, and I’ve learned to take a breath and not freak out when I don’t get it right the first time.
There are tons of brands out there and after looking into most of them I chose the Lunette cup and I’m very happy with my choice. They are produced in Finland, in an office powered by renewable energy, the packaging they come in uses recycled materials, they are packed by a company that employs people who might otherwise have difficulties getting a job, and they’re the only brand that passed the vigorous Danish chemical safety test (sounds good enough to me). They have tons of information on their website, lots of cute colours to choose from and the sizing is perfect. They work with different organisations to help girls in poor communities in Africa have a healthy, sustainable and affordable option for period products. Girls living in such communities sometimes hardly have access to clean water, so having their periods is not only an inconvenience, but also a reason why they have to skip school a lot more often than boys, increasing education inequalities and gender issues. It’s a minor change that can make a huge difference in the long haul.
What about you? Have you tried a menstrual cup?