It’s Time to Make the Switch…to a Menstrual Cup

My favorite fold is the double seven, but not in terms of origami. No, the double seven is actually a way to insert a menstrual cup. While I know the non-menstruating people of TikTok and Twitter just figured out tampons, it’s time to confuse them again by making the switch to a menstrual cup. These handy tools don’t dry out your vagina like tampons, so they’ll help you get that WAP that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are raving about. So why not try it? I did. 

Whenever I run out of a product, I attempt to replace it with a more eco-friendly alternative. This past cycle I switched from tampons with cardboard applicators to a menstrual cup. If you are contemplating making a change or if this is the first it has been brought to your attention, I love it and would wholeheartedly recommend trying it out. Menstrual cups are a reusable option for your hygiene needs. They are bell shaped cups made of medical grade silicone that are inserted into the vagina to catch the menstrual blood. It can be used for up to ten years and can be inserted for up to 12 hours depending on flow, which makes it so much better for the environment than tampons or pads that are one use only. 

Yes, the first time you use it will be scary. There are so many ways to fold it and the explanation videos always assume that the vagina has nothing restricting access to it. No labia or even legs exist in the instructions. If you aren’t relaxed enough, inserting it might even hurt which could dissuade you further. All I can recommend is to take a deep breath and persevere. To be totally transparent, removing it for the first time is even scarier. If you have a high cervix, you will think it has entirely disappeared. Once again, relax and try another position. It can’t go anywhere and it will not fit through the cervix. I pinky promise. 

But is silicone worse for the environment than all the plastic and other waste from pads and tampons? According to Stanford Magazine, almost 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded every year in the United States. Most hopefully end up in landfills, but a substantial portion goes to our oceans. Pads take 500-800 years to decompose and menstrual products that are chlorine bleached pollute the environment even more. Buying a small silicone cup every ten years makes a massive dent in that pile of waste. Silicone can even be recycled if you send it to the proper recycling facility. It is the eco-friendly option.  

As those who menstruate know, you can’t use the restroom with a tampon in for the risk of the string spreading bacteria. That is not a problem for cup users because there is no exposed string. Period poops (which are actually a thing) happen seamlessly, and I am speaking from experience. Toxic-shock syndrome is obviously a constant fear with internal products, but since menstrual cups only collect and don’t absorb blood, you are not at risk for infection. 

People who have IUDs might worry about the suction that the menstrual cup uses to catch every drop of blood. Though companies claim the suction is not strong enough to remove an IUD, if you are still worried, a menstrual disc might be right for you. Menstrual discs are very similar to menstrual cups, and you can even have sex with it in place since the silicone is so flexible and it sits near the cervix like a diaphragm would. (You still have to wear a condom though because it is not a diaphragm). 

For those who are now convinced, I would recommend getting a cup or disc that is very flexible. Also, get the smallest size unless you have given birth. I got the June cup on sale for $6 (not sponsored), and though the silicone is a little stiffer than I would like it, is a great option for the price. The average year of menstrual cycles cost from 50 to 100 dollars. That is a big difference for a college student on a budget. 

So why hasn’t this become a major movement since it is so good for the environment? Reusable straws were such a fad, why couldn’t this be the new one, and one that sticks around at that? First of all, the U.S. has a capitalist economy which means that we are constantly berated to buy more. Spending six dollars instead of a thousand over a decade is a major decrease in spending. Also, people don’t want to talk about periods. It’s gross. It’s taboo. The German Pinky Glove company even tried to make it so women wouldn’t even have to touch themselves. In commercials for period products, the liquid shown is blue, because red would be gross. Sadhana Nadathur Jayakumar wrote it best in an article with Feminism in India, “Menstrual cups become even more daunting when we are not comfortable with our body. A lot of us find it difficult to trust and love our bodies because we are used to the unrealistic beauty standards that the society has imposed on us. We need to know the inside of our vagina well enough so we know how to navigate and ensure that it’s sitting healthy. But for many of us, the vagina is still an enigma.”