Like Mother Like Daughter

A few years ago, I wrote a post about my very much beloved Mooncup which years later is still very much in use, has travelled with me to no less than 5 countries, because seriously, ffs, every single holiday, and remains the only thing I need, and will need until I hit menopause.


I continue to race about it to all my friends, who continue to make faces akin to having just watch me stick my entire arm inside my own vagina, and I continue to find it weird that people would rather stick bits of bleached cotton wool inside themselves than washable silicone.


For those of you who I haven’t evangelised, the mooncup (or in fact any menstrual cup) is a small silicone cup about an inch in diameter and a little taller which you insert into your vagina to form a suction around your cervix and collect menstrual blood. At regular intervals, you just pop it out, give it a wash, then pop it back in again.


If you need another reason to try it, how about this:

1 pack of 24 branded tampons cost £3.50 on a good month that might see you through. Based on an average of 1 period each calendar month, that’s £42 per year.

1 menstrual cup is going to cost you around  £15. It’s going to last you years – so far I’ve been  using mine for 4 years. Let’s compare that to tampons over 4 years : that’s £168 or £15.

Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent. I had the conversation this week with Beanpole about keeping a “girl bag” in her school bag just in case. And having seen me so comfortable with it, she asked for a mooncup! There’s nothing wrong with using a menstrual cup from when periods start as all it requires is to be comfortable with your own body. We also bought some really funky washable sanitary pads in rainbow colours.

My baby has planned to be a woman and she’s a woman who won’t kill the planet or isn’t frightened of her body.


Mooncup Evangelicalism

Ok, for those of a nervous disposition, look away now because I’m going to talk about lady bits and probably use some graphic detail.

It’s a fact of life that most women will have a period around once a month from thirteenish until fiftyish. Some of us get a break whilst we bake a small human inside us (and wow do we pay for that at the end!), but in general we, in western society have this weird taboo over menstrual cycles. Frankly I blame bodyform for those stupid roller skating adverts and the stereotype that every woman falls into a chocolate eating mess.

Lets set a few things straight. Firstly, it’s actually perfectly natural to have a menstrual cycle and the better you understand your own, the more you get what’s going on with your body. Those trying to conceive do better if they understand how their fertility moves through the month, and just the same, those of us who suffer from homicidal style PMT can find a bit more peace if we learn to work with, rather than fight the cycle.

For me that started by buying a Mooncup just over a year ago. For those not in the know, the Mooncup is a little cup shaped device made of silicone that sits around your cervix during menstruation. When first bought, they include a little tail (possibly to make those transitioning from tampons feel more secure) – cut this off, it just gets irritating and you don’t need it.

As the title mentions, I’m a bit evangelical about the Mooncup. I’m on a mission to get every woman with her own little silicon friend (the cup you filthy people) and fully intend to present my daughters with their very own when they reach puberty. But people don’t seem to share my enthusiasm and here are some of the reasons why:

It’s gross.
It’s no more icky than using a tampon, way less grim than towels, and frankly the leakage from them was beyond yuk. Ok, I’ll accept you are going to have to get used to seeing the stuff that you expel. But, it’s nothing a little water doesn’t wash off and the majority of this is poured directly from cup into the toilet.

Mine’s far too heavy for that sort of thing
Post babies, I was regularly anaemic from my monthly visit (I owe my life to cadburys) and the mooncup’s capacity surpasses that of when I was using the heaviest nighttime in and out protection. You can feel when it it time to visit the ladies and unless I’m being a bit lax about the signs, it doesn’t leak.

What if it gets lost up there?!
It won’t. Your ladygarden just isn’t that big. Anatomically, you have around 8-9 inches of flexible stuff up there and having fitted the cup around your cervix, the minute you bear down (push with your pelvic floor) you will be able to grasp your little device and give it a quick twist to break the seal. (Cue the suction noise – I’ll give you that one. That noise is akin to a wellie being pulled out of the mud)

…but what if it does get stuck? Or I forget about it?!
Unlikely, but even then the Toxic Shock that is a risk with tampons is not with a cup. The reason being that bacteria can grow in cotton, actually it’s the perfect environment. Because the cup is made of silicone, bacteria finds it difficult to attach itself and the seal around the cervix means that what’s on the outside finds it difficult to get in. I don’t suggest leaving it in for days, but you can certainly do an 12 hour stint with no issues whatsoever.

How do you get it in?
That takes practice. But essentially you fold it in half, put it inside, then twist it until it forms a seal over your cervix. You know if its in the right bit as it sort of pops open, a bit like those pop up tents that just burst into the right shape.

I don’t like the idea of hippy stuff. I’m weird about smells
Since everything is contained in a cup internally which has a seal around it, it doesn’t meet any oxygen. Therefore the iron in the blood can’t oxidize which is what causes the smell. If we’re out in public, I do tend to take a bottle of water with me with a arts cap for swishing it out on the move (or head for the loos with a little sink in the cubicle).

They’re really expensive!
Well, sort of. A cup will cost you around £20 (here’s one from Boots) which at first does seem quite steep. But consider… If you use branded tampons you’re looking at around £5 per month on ‘supplies’. Being made of silicone, your cup is good for ten years or more and you just wash it out (if you’re a germ buster, you can steam it before and after use). So this year alone, I’ve saved myself over £40 in lady bits. That’s a whole pair of school shoes!

So, you don’t need Sherlock to deduce that I’m rather attached to my cup and won’t be going back to the bleached, lube drying and dermatitis inducing other products. For the next 20 years, it’s just me and my mooncup.