When I first saw an ad for menstrual cups, I was mystified and more than a little squicked out. In the age-old debate of tampons vs. pads, I was a tampon girl, all the way, and there was little room for improvement - or so I thought. I added up the money I spent on tampons in a year, and compared that to the cost of a cup, and the curiosity (and miser) in me won out, and I gave the cup a try. Here's what I learned.
The reusable cup I chose cost $25 including shipping. A box of tampons costs $10 a month. If you replace the cup once a year (and you really don't have to - most can least YEARS), you'd save $95 a year. That's a new pair of boots, or a one-way ticket to Vegas, both of which are a lot more fun than extra boxes of tampons.
The first couple of times I used my cup, it was straight out of the prom scene from Carrie - it was a mess! On my third day, as I got more used to using the cup, it got better, and by the end of my period, I was a mess-free pro. Which brings me to my next point...
Like the first time you use tampons, there's a learning curve when you first use a cup. Like inserting a tampon, it's important to relax. Again, though, by the third day, I was a pro.
If I'm so firmly pro-tampon, why'd I even bother to try a cup? Because I'm outdoors-y, hiking and sleeping under the stars for days at a time, without access to a bathroom. So tampons are difficult to pack, and use, and dispose of... a cup, though? Much easier to pack in, and much easier to use. Except...
One of the pros cup devotees will mention is that they're much more environmentally-friendly than pads or tampons, and from a waste perspective, that's completely true. But you'll use a lot of water rinsing your cup. Like when you use a tampon, you have to wash your hands before and after, but there's also the rinsing of the cup.
There's something kind of cool about knowing exactly how much (or how little) your body sheds during your cycle. It's a lot less than I thought, though, remarkably, my on my one heavy day, I bleed more than all the other days put together. Sorry... TMI? Anyway, what will you learn about your body and flow?
Most women make the switch from pads to tampons for discretion - we're always afraid everyone else will be able to see or hear our pads. A cup, like a tampon, is invisible.
With the use of tampons comes a risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare but sometimes fatal infection. That risk is drastically lower when you use a cup.
There are so many brands of cups to choose from! With pads and tampons, there aren't many options, but with cups, there's more than a dozen. I chose Lunette, but there's also Diva Cup, Moon Cup, and more.
A tampon absorbs the good bacteria in your lady bits, and it can dry you out. A cup, however, leaves your delicate pH and your other good stuff intact.
Remember when I was talking about the cost and environmental savings of using a cup? I nearly forgot to mention: using a cup will also save you the time, effort, cost, and greenhouse emissions of those extra trips to the drug store.
I'm a runner, and I've worried about tampon changes in the middle of a long race or training run. The cup can stay in place up to 12 hours, depending on your flow - that's enough time for a soccer game, or even a full marathon.
Pads? Not comfortable. Tampons? Usually pretty comfortable, though occasionally distractingly uncomfortable. A cup? Totes comfy - once it's in, you won't even feel it.
So... any questions? Will you try a cup? Or, if you already have, what pros and cons would you add?
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