On Zero-Waste Periods: Menstrual Cups

Having your period is a bitch – it is painful, it gives you the unnecessary mood swings, and it makes you weak. It’s the unpredictable visitor almost every girl has, and she has to welcome that bitch most of her life. Obviously, I’m not talking about the one we use in sentences.

Aside from the physical and emotional stress it gives, periods can also be wasteful. Periods make us spend money and produce trash, unless you’re using alternative period products. In my case, I am using a menstrual cup.

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A menstrual cup is a cone-shaped device made of medical-grade silicone. Its shape is designed to collect the menstrual blood, while the tiny dots on its rim is made to create a ‘suction’ between the cup and the vaginal walls to hold it in place and to avoid leakage.

While it may be a struggle for first-timers, using a menstrual cup is easy to use as long as you choose the right size – just fold it in half, stick it up the vagina, let it do its magic, take it out after 8-12 hours, and clean it so you can repeat the process. Several sites and YouTube videos show tutorials on how to use one.

As someone who experiences heavy flow (no thanks to my PCOS), I am actually amazed that this cup can hold my blood for hours. I’ve been using the large-sized one from Aneer for six months and I love it. Listed below are the advantages of using a menstrual cup based on my experience:

Economical. Initially, I switched from my overnight pad to a menstrual cup only because I wanted to save money. The overnight pad that I use costs around 10 pesos per pad, and I have to shell out 1,440 pesos per year (I use an average of 12 pads on a monthly basis), which is slightly expensive for someone on a budget. A cup generally costs around 300-2,000 pesos each depending on the brand and lasts up to 10 years with proper care and cleaning. I bought mine on Shopee for 499 pesos, so I saved roughly 13,901 pesos in 10 years. Pretty cool, huh?

Sustainable. As we all know, most feminine pads in the market are non-recyclable. Most of its components are also made of plastic. If improperly disposed, it can clog plumbing lines (ever experienced a clogged toilet in a mall because someone flushed her pad?) and pollute our seas. Using tools such as a menstrual cup (or a reusable cloth pad) can help reduce waste caused by our periods. If majority of the women switch their disposable pads to sustainable options, imagine the significant amount of waste that can be reduced.

Convenient. Back then, I used to hate travelling whenever I get that time of the month. I had to bring packs of overnight pads which would take up most of my storage space and I couldn’t swim because I feel uncomfortable. Now that I’m using a menstrual cup, I don’t have to bring overnight pads and I can finally swim without the fuss. In fact, I traveled twice (including my Cebu trip last month) while on a period and while using a menstrual cup!

Hygienic. Unlike tampons which can cause toxic shock syndrome if used for more than 8 hours, a menstrual cup lasts more than 10 hours without the fear of complications. I even know some women who use their cup more than 12 hours a day! Depending on how heavy my flow is, I usually wash mine 2-3 times a day and I just sterilize it with boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda when my period is done.

Comfortable. Despite the size, menstrual cups can hold your blood for more than 8 hours without the leakage. I even had instances when I forgot I have a period while wearing the cup because I cannot feel anything.

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It is important for those who are considering to buy one to choose the right size for your vagina since it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing – usually, women under 25 years old can wear a small size while those who are over 25 years old and/or have babies can wear a large size. For those who have no experience with tampons or sexual intercourse, you may consult your ob-gyne first before using one to avoid any discomfort. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions every time you buy something that involves your personal hygiene such as a menstrual cup – ask the seller for the origin of the product, actual photos of the product on-hand, and their personal experiences with the product they’re selling.

So far, I haven’t experienced any trouble aside from having to wash it while inside a public toilet, which only happened to me once while I was traveling (here’s a “cup” hack: bring a bottle of water to wash it while inside the cubicle). Had I known about the menstrual cup sooner, I would have used it a long time ago. The experience of using one may be different for some women, but I believe that the benefits of this innovative product definitely outweighs the minor inconveniences.

What about you? Do you use a menstrual cup or any sustainable alternative menstrual product?

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