Mooncup daydreams – why this was my best buy for 2017

Funnily enough, I hadn’t actually thought to write about my favourite finds of 2017. In fact the realisation that I even had a favourite was something that only occured to me the other day whilst on the train to work.

As usual, I was paying little attention to the various weird and wonderful thoughts that were flitting in and out of my head. I don’t think I ever have much control over these random, half asleep morning thoughts. They’re usually a reflection of last nights dreams, observations of other people on the train and contemplations of whats in the news and what I have to do at work that day. I could probably arrive at work and not even be able to recall what I was thinking about most days.

For some reason though, on this particularly long and delayed train journey, I suddenly realised that of all the things I could have been thinking about, there I was sat thinking about my period and the delights of the mooncup! (So, you know when you see someone sat staring into space and wonder what they’re thinking?…you probably weren’t imagining that!)

Anyhoo, seeing as we didn’t seem to be going anywhere, I decided to give these thoughts a little more attention, and in doing so, I realised that of all the things I had purchased last year to be more plastic free, the Mooncup was actually my favourite.

Why is the Mooncup my favourite?

Ok, so it wasn’t actually such a random thing for me thinking about the Mooncup that day. I actually happened to be using it, and in fact I was using it on a day that I wasn’t even sure I needed to be. Which is exactly why I think I happened to be thinking about it.

Some of you reading this will already know exactly what I mean by that, but for those that might be wondering, I will have to get a little more personal, by which I mean going into a little more detail about my period. I use the word ‘period’ here on purpose too. Not ‘time of the month’ or any other term that people might use in hushed tones because we’re made to feel apologetic for even having them. I’m a strong believer in the need to discuss periods more openly, not just because it will help to educate women on the many alternatives to plastic period products out there, but also because we still live in a world where women are discrimintated against when having them, and where we don’t even truly understand why we have them! (I talk more about this and the necessity to be better informed in a seperate blog post here).

So, back to amzingness of the mooncup.

I happen to be one of the many women out there who (despite being taught otherwise at school) does not have a regular monthly cycle. I have in fact spent some time now getting to know my cycle better and it turns out I have an average cycle length of 37 days. I am getting better at spotting the signs, but at the end of the day I can never be 100% certain when I will start, and so you can imagine this makes it pretty difficult to plan for.

What was the issue?

Well, when in doubt I would usually opt to wear a sanitary towel. They’re not the comfiest of things, they don’t look nice, they bunch up, often contain fragrance chemcials and the popular brands will contain a lot of plastic. Unfortunately this was all I was aware of at the time and it was safer and more pleasant than risking a dry tampon.

Mooncup to the rescue:

The Mooncup can be worn at any time during, before or after your period. It’s made of medical grade silicone, doesn’t react with anything inside you and it doesn’t absorb any moisture whilst it’s in there, so zero dryness, even on a dry day. This has been amazing for me. It means that on my not so sure days, I can go swimming, do excersise and walk with confidence in my ‘not fit for Bridget Jones’ pants’ jeans! It also means the same for those lighter days at the end of your period…just pop it in and forget about it (for up to 8 hours at least).

Obviously there will be some of you out there who don’t have this issue, you might be regular as clockwork, but there are plenty of other reasons to give menstrual cups a try…

What was the issue?

We’ve all been there, you pop your tampon in, stand up and realise it just isn’t quite sitting right. Cue the unpleasant task of having to take it straight back out again. I can’t help butbe reminded of that horrid feeling of dry cotton balls that the dentist puts in your mouth when I think of this. It is uncomfortable, can be painful and definitely isn’t any good for the delicate walls of your vagina.

Mooncup to the rescue:

Well…for starters you will definitely need to re-adjust the mooncup a few times when you first try it out. It fits different to a tampon, is inserted differently to a tampon and it is shaped diffeently to a tampon. The big difference…it won’t matter. The silicone doesn’t absorb any moisture and so if you do find that you got it wrong, it’s no big deal. Just take it out and start again.

What was the issue?

I wasn’t actually aware that this was even an issue until I attended an event where Natalie Fee spoke about the volume of plastic in menstrual products. I had already thought about using alternatives because of the plastic packaging associated with tampons, but it hadn’t occured to me that the tampons themselves would contain plastic! Like most people I figured they would be made of cotton. As it turns out, unless you specifically choose to find cotton tampons, and unless these are organic, the chances are that every month you are inserting tampons that contain plastic and other chemicals that aren’t always even stated as ingredients. Seriously – when Tampax tampons list fragrance as a component, the closest you get to an explanation of what this is is ‘fragrance ingredients like those found in other women’s products’. What does that even mean!? …and that was taken straight from their website.

So what plastics do tampons contain?

  • Polyethylene
  • Polypropylene
  • Polyester

This is what I got from the ingredient list on their website and I find it pretty shocking, I wouldn’t want to eat plastics and yet here I was putting them in my vagina, which is more sensitive and absorbent than our regular skin and lacks any ability to metabolize chemicals like our gut can.

Of course there is research to say these are safe, but we thought the same about BPA plastics for a long time and now they are banned all over for use in baby bottles because we now know they are endocrine disruptors. Research is now pointing to this being the case with all plastics (see the film A Plastic Ocean and read their scientific literature), which means I’m not so confident I believe in the safety of plastics in feminine care products. I go into more detail about this in my post ‘lets talk periods’ should you want to read more about this.

Mooncup to the rescue:

The mooncup is made of medical grade silicone which is considered safe for long term use inside the body. Now obviously I had to question this, considering apparently plastic is safe too, but although there are some studies that seem to indicate some leaching effects, these were mostly in relation to food-grade silicone when heated, and silicone in all forms is far more stable than plastics.

This makes sense considering it is deemed safe for use in the body over long periods of time, where plastics wouldn’t be (another reason I’m not so keen on plastics in tampons, let’s face it they’re in there a long time when you add it all up).

What was the issue?

Using absorbent materials in a part of the body that is designed to have a mucous membrane to maintain its health and balance of chemicals, bacteria and pH. Again this wasn’t something I had thought much about before. I wanted something to absorb my menstrual blood, and thats what a tampon did. I am now aware that the absorbent material in tampons, in particualr rayon, can cause micro lesions and tears on the lining of the vaginal walls (nope…no thank you) and they absorb all of the natural mucus that your vagina relies on in addition to our menstrual flow.

Mooncup to the rescue:

Well, silicone isn’t absorbent and it has no fibres that it can leave behind or cause tearing. This means the vaginal wall will be less irritated and the mucous membrane in the vagina shouldn’t be disturbed. My own personal experience of this so far… I always used to get thrush after my period (I never really thought about why) and since using the Mooncup I haven’t. I have no idea if there is a link or not, there could be other reasons of course, but that is just my own personal experience. Also…I just don’t want to think about vaginal wall tears.

What was the issue?

Now for the environmental concerns (aside from the reliance of fossil fuels as an ingredient in tampons). Tampons and sanitary towels are packaged in a lot of plastic these days.

The outer packaging might be made of or contain plastic, the wrapping of the products are usually plastic and then in the case of tampons, the applicators are more often than not…plastic. So much single-use plastic. Much of this will either end up in landfill, or in mnay cases, flushed down the toilet and straight to our rivers and oceans. Seems crazy, but it is true. Along with the tampons and sanitary pads themselves, these products not only enter our environment but they also cost us alot of money for unblocking sewage pipes and drains.

Mooncup to the rescue:

There was absolutely no plastic packaging with my mooncup and zero single-use packaging as part of the product. Silicone might not be degradable, but it can be recyled and the product will last for up to 10 years!

What was the issue?

The last point leads me nicely to this one. Cost. Tampons are single-use. If the average person uses them for 6 hours at a time with a panty liner at night, that equates to about 180 per year. The popular brands are about 18p per tampon and about 10p per pad. Over a year that is around £40 and over an average menstrual lifetime, about £1200.

Mooncup to the rescue:

The mooncup cost me £20. That’s £2 per year and £60 for a lifetime based on it lasting the suggested 10 years. So if i had started using them from day one, I would have saved myself £380 already!

What else do I like about the mooncup?

  • I like that I can see my flow exactly how it was meant to be. I know what colour it is, its consistency, its volume. It doesn’t look gross, it isnt all congealed and it has made my time of the month a far more pleasant experience. It also makes it a lot easier to learn what is normal for you and therefore makes it easier to spot any changes that might indicate an issue.
  • It is really comfy, it might sit lower than a tampon but comfort wise there is no difference during use.
  • There is no indication from the outside that you are even wearing anything! It is completely invisible to the outside world!
  • It works! I have used it multiple times now and had no issues with leakage since the first day of getting it right. I even went rock climbing in it, which means I was confident enough to have people staring at my harnessed bum whilst climbing, without fear of it being embarrasing (for any reason other than the fact that I have my bum in a harness).

What is the catch?

The only real catch to using a menstrual cup is the fact that you have to get up close and personal to your vagina and your period. Your fingers are the applicator (although the way you fold the mooncup helps) and you will likely end up with a small amount of natural mucus on your fingers when you remove it. It won’t be a horror story, you won’t have hands covered in blood, it is just a case of popping it out, tipping out the contents and popping it back in. At home I like to rinse it in warm water between uses because I can, but out and about it is just as easy to wipe with loo roll if needed and pop it back in. You will quickly find a way which suits you, and once you do, you won’t be thinking of it as a catch. My personal tip for when out and about is to just have some loo roll pieces to hand before you remove it. I also like to keep a piece of loo roll handy to unlock the door and flush the chain before washing my hands. Oh and wash your hands before you go too…office keyboard germs don’t want to be anywhere near your vagina.

So…that’s my round up! My number one purchase of 2017 is the Mooncup! Have a happy period!

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