Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day

Since it's Earth Day, some of you might be wondering how we can tread a little more lightly on this lovely planet of ours. So today I would like to talk to all the menstruating women out there or anyone else who's curious about the one thing that has significantly reduced my impact on this planet: the menstrual cup. I'd also like to talk about it in an effort to end any stigma that's still associated with periods and/or talking about them :)

(Disclaimer: The following is for informational purposes only and is not offered as medical advice, nor does it substitute for consultation with your physician. If you have any gynecological/medical concerns or conditions regarding the use of internal feminine hygiene products, I encourage you to consult your physician.)

I've been using one for 9+ years now and have not looked back. Tampons never worked for my flow for the same reason pads were really gross-feeling for me so switching to a menstrual cup has felt revolutionary for my periods! Most menstrual cups are made out of non-absorbent medical grade silicone that collects your flow until you're ready to empty it. Instead of dealing with changing tampons or pads every couple hours or when you accidentally leak, the menstrual cup can cut down those emergency bathroom runs to virtually none! For example: I empty/re-insert the cup once in the morning & once at night. On my most heavy day(s), I will empty once or twice midday just to ensure no leaks. Instead of letting my period control my day with tampon or pad changes (sometimes the flow comes in spurts and overloads your disposable product: ladies, you know what I mean), I can plan for when and where to manage my period stuff because the menstrual cup just keeps collecting until I'm ready! Silicone menstrual cups can be disinfected by boiling in water for a few minutes, in case you're wondering.

Full-disclosure: I do use a reusable & washable pad for my heaviest day(s) because sometimes I get so into my work that I forget to empty midday and leak a bit and also for when when I was first learning how to properly use my cup. But I have been considering trying out THINX period-proof panties as the pad can get uncomfortable when I'm active. Washable pads and absorbent panties are also great Earth-friendly alternatives for women who cannot use the menstrual cup for whatever reason.

Other than saving you an estimated ~$2k in disposables over your lifetime, (I've spent ~$130 over the last NINE years between 2 menstrual cups and a week's worth of washable pads), here are another set of reasons to try out a menstrual cup:
  • You don't need to travel with a suitcase full of disposables or worse: finding a pharmacy in a foreign land.
  • If you're an outdoorsy person: same as above but you also get to skip packing out used pads or tampons! Just be prepared with hand sanitizer and extra toilet paper and/or a bit more drinking water for rinsing and/or wipes. 
  • You're saving the planet! According to this article from Slate, the average woman throws away 250-300 pounds of sanitary products in her lifetime. A menstrual cup could reduce that to ZERO! 
  • You may never worry of leaking overnight ever again. Everyone's body is different and some have reported leaking overnight even with the cup, but I, personally, have never had an overnight leak using a menstrual cup. No more emergency laundry situations
  • You get to learn more about your own body and take charge of your menstrual health! You might learn about an irregularity in your flow. You might learn that you have a tilted uterus. And, if you're trying to have a baby, knowing about what your flow is like can give you a glimpse into your fertility. If you are seeing an acupuncturist or fertility doctor, they will almost definitely want to know details about your flow that you've discovered from using a menstrual cup. Being able to quantify your flow and any changes in it is, in general, a very useful thing to know when discussing your menstrual health. 
There is a bit of a learning curve when first trying it out, but that's where you learn about the intricacies of your body and flow :) Also, different brands have different shapes so you might need to try out a couple before you find one that suits you. I used a Diva Cup for many years and always had leak issues, so recently I bought a Moon Cup and found the thicker rim provides a much better seal for me and thus far FAR less leak issues. They do cost more up-front compared to a small pack of tampons or pads, but they are WORTH IT: it's equivalent to roughly four or five packs of tampons or pads but lasts FAR longer than 4 or 5 cycles!

Have I convinced you yet? I'm going to assume I have, so YAY! You can find them for purchase online or places like Whole Foods or check your local holistic health shop, which is where I found the Diva Cup 9 years ago. When I first looked up menstrual cups, I was digging for information in discreet online forums and the only other reference was the product website. Menstrual cups have definitely become way more accessible and mainstream, which makes me so happy to see :) I'm sure our planet appreciates it too!

If you have any questions about menstrual cups, feel free to write me at "my blog name" [a] 

Happy Earth day :)