So, I don’t know if y’all have gotten the memo but the planet is dying and your environmental science professors don’t have time to therapize you out of your climate anxiety. Also, apparently it’s not socially acceptable to drunk call/text political figures anymore. Travesty.
In a bold attempt to lead a (relatively) sustainable lifestyle and stick it to the man, I made a resolution in the middle of 2019 (because, let’s face it, new year’s resolutions are inherently designed to fail) to produce less waste . I made a few changes in my lifestyle to fulfill my resolution: using the same phone I had from before I started university instead of getting a new one, not buying water that comes in plastic bottles, re-using the plastic cutlery I already own and switching to menstrual cups.
I’ve been using menstrual cups for 4 months now and have some thoughts and wisdom to pass onto you.
- Menstrual cups don’t feel uncomfortable. In fact, once inside, you can barely tell they’re there. I’ve used sanitary pads from the start of my menstruation cycles and even after so many years, they still feel like oddly shaped diapers. I was apprehensive about sticking something as big as a cup inside me at first, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out it doesn’t hurt or feel uncomfortable.
- But they’re a bit tricky to insert in the beginning. I’m not gonna lie, it took me some time and a few trials to be able to put a menstrual cup inside me. There are many instructional blogs and videos that demonstrate how to wear menstrual cups, but in my experience, you’ll have to play around with them a bit before you figure out which way works best for you. Be patient; I’m sure it took a few periods for all of us to get used to tampons, sanitary napkins, etc. The same goes for menstrual cups.
- Sterilize your cups. Menstrual cups are, by default, safe for your vaginal health (and the environment) because most brands make them using medical-grade silicone and don’t contain harsh chemicals that are commonly found in tampons and pads. But you’ll have to invest some time into sterilizing them. I sterilize mine in boiling water for 8-10 minutes at the end of the day, and make sure I’m carrying an extra cup in my bag before heading out in the morning. It really pays off to have 3-4 cups in your possession, especially if you’re clumsy and can potentially drop your cup in the toilet bowl while changing (definitely not speaking from experience).
- You don’t have to take it out every time you pee. This is a bit embarrassing but one of the biggest reasons it took me so long to try menstrual cups was because I thought women pee from the vagina. Before you start judging me, I’m sure there are others out there who have the same idea because their Biology teachers brushed over the reproductive health section of the syllabus. Blame the education system; not me. Depending on your flow, you will probably change your cup a maximum of thrice a day. In my experience, I’ve had to change mine twice each day.
- Menstrual cups are very good at preventing leaks, even if you’re active. To give you an insight into my lifestyle, I’m not super active but I do occasionally work out and uncover my hidden contortionist talent in my sleep. But I haven’t had a single leak in the last few months of using menstrual cups. If you’re doubtful, I recommend buying cups of different sizes at first so you can determine which size is best for your flow. This will help you gauge your flow pattern and amount, and prevent leaks.
Overall, switching to menstrual cups has been a positive experience for me. Like I mentioned before, it might take some time to get used to putting a cup inside you, but it really pays off to have patience with it. I like knowing that I don’t have to constantly buy pads, that are filled with toxic chemicals, every single month and have them end up in the landfill. Depending on the brand, each menstrual cup can last for several years, and it’s helping me fulfill my goal of producing less waste. So if you were ever looking for a sign to invest in menstrual cups, this is it.
Check out SustainSU’s post for more info on “Bleeding Sustainably.”
Raisa Salmin Purba