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  • Andrea Kristin

Review: Switching to the Period cup

It's been a year since I made the switch and here's what I have learnt and what you need to know if you starting to warm up to the idea of being open to it yourself.

Like I always go on about with making a new sustainable choice, you personally have to arrive to the decision of each step yourself. It was over 7 years ago that my yoga friends moved to period cups and were raving about them and while I liked the idea it, I was not ready to give it a go. It was too big of a change, a bit too foreign and I wished I was more open to try but it didn't feel like it was for me. Fast forward almost a decade and I finally felt open and ready to try.

My reasons to make the switch had grown and included;

  • That my preferred brand of tampons were becoming harder and harder to buy, and I hated most others.

  • I was sick of buying them, ensuring I always had them stashed and stocked everywhere.

  • Dealing with desposing them at home and when at other people homes.

  • My first day or two can be sometimes be heavy requiring changing every 2 hours, and now having 2 small children, it was just an added complication each month that I didn't have time for

  • By the back end of my period it honestly feels like my body doesn't want them in any more, they feel uncomfortable when my period is light. I don't use them at night after the first 2 nights (after that I don't bleed at night) and it feels like a much needed break from having this absorbent, dry thing in me.

  • My growing concerns about the harmful chemicals, bleach and plastics that are in tampons and what impact that is having on my health.

  • And of course the environmental impact and waste of them, as they are filled with plastic and aren't really biodegradable.

So once I was at the shop getting annoyed by not having what I wanted that I saw the cups and decided to take the plunge and get one.

From my first go, to now over a year later, I haven't looked back once. I will never use a tampon again, here's what makes the cup so much better;

  • Never having to stock up and then refill your bag and what not. I have two cups. One at home and one in my handbag in case my period arrives when I am out. I have never been caught out or needed any more than this.

  • Besides the not having to physically buy them all the time part, I save so much money too!

  • Not having to deal with disposing tampons and wrappers. Honestly you don't know how freeing this is to give up thinking about. You empty your cup in the toilet, and off you go, never having to think about it again.

  • Because cups sit over your cervix, they are not exposed to lots of air like a tampon, so there is no smell, ever.

  • They hold a lot more than a tampon so you will have far less change times (my heavy days are down to two day changes, and after your heavy day/s it will only be morning when you get up and night when you go to bed that you empty. It totally takes the hassle out of your period.

  • As it's not absorbent like a tampon, you will not dry out, or feel uncomfortable on your light days - nothing worse than pulling out a dry tampon... and then to only insert a new one !! 🥴

  • Even the small annoyance the string of a tampon sometimes irritating you, or when it gets wet from a wee is gone.

  • It's Activity proof -

  • No more toxic chemicals and plastics in your body. Instead medical grade silicone that's been proven safe and no leeching.

  • And of course the amount of monthly waste you are no longer sending to landfill feels oh so good!

So, while I much prefer the cup, I have learnt a few tricks and things to consider to make the switch easier, these include:

Understanding the anatomy of your body and being comfortable with it

You need to explore and be comfy with your body. I don't think I could have handled a cup when I first got my period as a young teen, it would have been too overwhelming. But then again, young girls now are so much more informed and have far less shame about their bodies than there was when I was young so maybe young girls would be fine with it. Either way, you need to learn what your Cervix is, how to located it, explore and touch it. As a cup will sit right over it, you need to be able to get your fingers in there and make sure you get it in the right position.

Be open to finding the right cup for you

There are many brands, shapes and styles. I would say as a starting point go off the difference that some are better suited for women who haven't been pregnant/ birthed a child and others for women who have. As your cervix size and location are likely to be bigger and lower after children, this matches ones that are wider and shorter compared to ones that are smaller but longer. I was lucky to find a good fit first try, I did cut down the tab at end as it was a bit to long for me which was easy.

Things to remember when inserting and removing

Always remember to wash your hands with soap before inserting or removing, you are getting fingers in there up close to your cervix (the gateway into your internal body) so you want them to be clean! So when at a public toilet, be sure to go via the sink before the cubical.

The best thing is to read the instructions and pictures that come with your cup. But what you want to ensure is that if you are folding to insert that you do a final check by sweeping your finger around the outside of the cup to ensure there is no folds (has opened up properly) and that your cervix is inside the cup. If it hurts at all, pull it out and try again.

When learning to remove, it can be easy to freak out that you can't get it, you need to relax and push down your pelvic floor (like your a doing a poo!) and you should then be able to feel and grab it. Dont squeeze it too much when you grab it, as you don't want to get suction which will make it harder to remove or overflow it on removal - it just makes it a little messy. I would say by the time you first your first period with a cup you will have the hang of it and inserting and removing is not a hassle or worry at all. After emptying, if you are at home, I rinse and wash it with soap in the sink and re-insert. If I am out, I wipe it with toilet paper and re-insert, wipe my fingers with paper and go straight to the sink to wash my hands properly.

My advise on empting it

What they dont talk about in any instruction is that as you may know, blood and water don't easily mix - it sinks, so when you empty your full cup into the toilet and flush it's doesn't really all flush away, blood will sink and sit at the bottom of the toilet, and a second flush won't always make it go away - especially not great when at someone's house or a public toilet. My advise is to put some toilet paper in the toilet before you remove it. This makes it go mainly on the toilet paper instead of sinking to the bottom and will flush away with the paper.

Pair it with very light period underwear or bladder leakage underwear

As a cup is not absorbent, sometimes there can be a light leak that won't get picked up, I only have it as a light pink colour when wiping on my heavy days. But in any case I wear the very light period underwear during my period so there is no chance of wreaking my underwear or having a leak if it's full or anything else happens. There are so many period underwear options on the market and they are all leak proof, so you get that confidence, and if you find the super light ones - even the Bonds Damn Strong Mama underwear (they are designed for light bladder leaks so they are super thin) they don't feel like period undies at all. I usually start wearing them the day before my period is due so I dont have to stress about when it comes, where I am and what I am wearing at the time. It's a game changer!

Keeping it clean and sterile

The most important thing to remember is that as you are using a reusable item, so keep it hygienic. I give it a warm soapy clean after each empty (if I am at home) but always at night, and after my period has ended I boil it to fully sterilise it ready for the next month. Mine comes with a hard plastic case (pictured) that you can sterilse in with the microwave, but I am not a fan of heating up plastics as it leeches harmful chemicals, so I opt for a pot. Any sign of damage or deterioration I would get a new one.

I hope my experience and info has helped you know a little bit more about cups and possibly help you towards making the switch sometime soon!

AK xx


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