Bathroom

My Switch to Low Waste Periods Using a Menstrual Cup

Today’s blog is all about how I swapped to a lower waste period. Most of my experience is with menstrual cups, so this blog will focus on that, but I have some other tips and tricks along the way! Also, this blog will be to the point, so if you want someone to beat around the bush, probably find a different article to read.

To give you context on my cycle, I used to have to use super tampons (3-4 a day) and I’d sleep with overnight disposable pads. I couldn’t imagine ever making the switch to a cup, even once I started caring more about the earth, because I was intimidated by the process and thought I’d be an exception to the rule. I thought it would never work for me and my heavier flow.

Then, one of my best friends told me she used one, and now all of her family members with periods did too, because she couldn’t stop raving about it. She and I were close enough that I could ask her all of my gross questions, then I was sold! I’ve tried to break up this post to

Which brand of menstrual cup do I use? Do I like it?

I opted to purchase the Flex brand menstrual cup with pull string, because I used tampons and that was a more natural switch to me. I was still pushing it in in a relatively similar way, and pulling it out in a very similar way. The string did snap once, after I left it in too long and didn’t clean it properly, but Flex was really kind and immediately replaced it for me.

I love the swap that I made. With my dexterity and comfort level, it’s a great fit. I can leave it in for 12 hours at a time with my flow, so I just take it out and empty it/clean it once in the morning and once in the evening.

Aside from the environmental benefits of one product for a few years compared to around 740 disposable tampons in that time, think of the cost savings! It’s also so much easier for me to not think about it more than twice a day.

How do you put a menstrual cup in?

I’ll defer to the experts on menstrual cup insertion for this one. Basically, though, I fold it like a letter C and push it with the rounded edge going in first. I’ve always found it easiest to remove and insert while I’m sitting on the toilet, but I know many will do it in the shower or find it easier standing up. Here’s the YouTube video from Flex explaining how to insert their cup, and most cup brands have a similar video showing how to use their specific product https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGA74NNClmo

How do you deal with a menstrual cup in public?

The short answer here is I don’t. I have never needed to be in public for 24 hours, so I don’t know why I’d need to empty it in public. Usually you can find an accessible bathroom stall that has a sink in it for situations like an airport, and that’s what I do and just treat it like I would in my bathroom at home.

Do menstrual cups leak?

My menstrual cup has never leaked, but I’m very aware of my flow and when I need to take it out and replace it. I do have friends who have been betrayed by their cups, but Sistha of @ecosistha on Instagram said she overcame this by having a “backup” of a cloth pad so that if it did leak, she’d know it wasn’t into her clothes.

How long until you get used to it?

This is different for everyone. My first couple of periods, personally, putting it in and taking it out felt so difficult. Now, putting my menstrual cup in is so easy and I don’t really think about it.

What are other options?

On the last day of my period, I usually don’t wear my cup, and instead opt for my Knix brand underwear. Thinx is a similar brand that I know many people swear by. Using period underwear for all-day wear isn’t something I’m comfortable with knowing my flow, but many people I’ve spoken to do use this as their only option, so I’d recommend finding a blogger or YouTuber who talks about their experience with that if it’s the path you want to take for comfort or accessibility reasons.

Others that I know use cloth pads. Again, this wasn’t something I was comfortable with, but if you want to go this route for one reason or another, some things to keep in mind are that you’ll need a way to store them when they’re used until you clean them, and you’ll want a small laundry bag (a reusable produce bag works fine) to wash them in. Most reusable pads need to air dry, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding what quantity to purchase.

What are others’ experiences with low waste periods?

For some quotes of their experiences with low waste periods, I reached out to a few other eco-instagram owners whose opinions I respect. I shared a screenshot of those quotes on my Instagram feed which you can click to see right from this page.

What did I miss?

One thing to add to this post is that this is one case where I didn’t use what I had before the switch. That’s kind of my golden rule with low waste swaps, but if I didn’t like the cup I wanted to have a backup plan. At first I kept the tampons and pads around for guests, but after a few months of comfort with my cup I donated all of my extra female hygiene products to neighbors and a local homeless shelter.

If you have any other questions about my switch, feel free to comment on either this blog or my Instagram post, or send me a message! I’d love to help you.

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