Plastic-Free July in Croydon

Reusable menstrual cups — AKA Mooncups

Posted by Admin on 25 June 2014

For many people, menstrual periods are a recurring source of not only disposable plastic — towels and tampons almost all come in plastic wrapping — but also large amounts of waste cotton material. Is there a better way? Here’s a guest post from Julia explaining why she loves her Mooncup.

Warning: some detail, if you’re squeamish about periods.

Considering if a menstrual cup could replace your disposable items? There are many testimonials from happy users online: here’s mine.

Basics and benefits

There are a few brands, varying in design, sizes, material (silicone/latex/TPE), and flexibility. Mine is the silicone Mooncup (UK): comprehensive guides and FAQs here.

Basically: Fold it, insert, let it unfold inside forming a (light) seal, and it’ll catch your flow. Remove — pinch the base to break the seal — to empty every 4-8 hours (some brands say 12 hours). Capacity is awesome — more than a tampon. Clean and store dry in between periods.

I’ve used mine for 6 years — a happy, monogamous relationship! My motivation was reducing waste and costs, but other benefits are: physiological (no fibre shedding / extracting dry tampons), practical (no bin? no worries), you can swim with it, some even report reduced cramps. It is better than an absorbent item, vaginal health-wise, and avoids concerns about bleached material (some brands have coloured cups, though).

The DivaCup — another widely available brand. Photo ©, found on Flickr and used under a Creative Commons Licence.

Cleaning — is it safe?

In short: used properly, this seems one of the safest options. Infections are less likely, partly as your protective secretions aren’t absorbed. No risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome has been associated (though if you’ve had TSS, the recommendation is don’t use anything internal, so cups are out). It’s easy to clean:

During your period, rinse or dab with tissue on emptying. Unperfumed soap, washed off well, is ok. Wash hands before and after. Before first use (and between periods if you want): leave in boiling water for 5 min, or use dilute vinegar or sterilizing solution (wash off after). Let it dry: don’t put it straight in a plastic pot — the Mooncup’s breathable cotton pouch is best. Check specific instructions for your brand. I use vinegar, but used to boil.

If this doesn’t sound enough, I’d say: do you sterilize everything that goes up there? The required cleanliness is easily achieved... “adult play items” are re-used safely... Just don’t clean it with anything too harsh — and rinse cleaning solution off well.

Easy to use? Comfortable?

I needed to practice folding/inserting, removing, and my empty-dab/rinse-reinsert routine. Other users gave great advice, and I was soon comfortable. If you have leaks or can feel it when it’s in, initial advice is change how far you insert. Relaxing for insertion, and bearing down to remove, are useful tips. A stem (which you can cut short/off) and grippy ridges on the base aid removal.

It won’t work perfectly, immediately, for everyone — we’re all a different size/shape and we change with time and activity. Investigate your anatomy a bit and perhaps compare brands for size/flexibility before buying. Get your hands on a sample: the Croydon Green Fair had some!

Isn’t it icky? Or messy?

You will become acquainted with the nature of your “output”! When you remove, you can keep it upright until emptying, the outside stays quite blood-free (if it’s not completely full), minimizing mess. You might need tissue to dab yourself and/or the cup, and a water container might be handy. I admit I often empty at home where I’m next to the sink, but women successfully camp with them!

I find it less icky than other options as your waste goes down the loo!

Icky or not, I advocate knowing your body — periods and vaginas are quite normal, even though they’re all different.

The Mooncup box. Photo © Julia.

Packaging and purchasing

The Mooncup is sold inside its unbleached cotton bag in a cardboard box. No plastic! Buy from most not-tiny Boots at £21.99, some health food shops, or online.

My personal experience is that I am not sacrificing anything to use less resources, and even benefit — win-win for me. Mooncup Ltd and the other companies also have strong ethical credentials all round — and if you need help, you can call them, or there’s lots online.

Useful links — This dedicated lady has tested out many cups.

Comments powered by Disqus.