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Zero Waste Periods: Menstrual Cup

Zero Waste Periods: Menstrual Cup

Zero Waste Bathroom

Last Updated on May 14, 2020

Let’s talk about periods. The first time I heard about menstrual cups was at my first professional acting gig. 

It was outdoor theatre. Shakespeare and musical theatre – what could be better than that.

how to use a menstrual cup from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #menstrualcup #zerowasteperiods #periods #plasticfree #gogreen #sustainable

Except for when it was 100 degrees and you were wearing four layers of clothing, or when it was pouring rain and you were drenched through four layers of clothing. Let’s just say we spent A LOT of time outside.

Hindsight, having a menstrual cup would have been literally life changing. My only regret is not having one sooner.

What if I told you, you could basically make your period disappear? Cramp less? Deal with it less? And, sleep-in on Saturday morning without worrying about changing your tampon? 

what’s a menstrual cup? 

They’re becoming much more mainstream and popular. It’s a small flexible cup made of medical grade silicone. 

Instead of absorbing blood, it catches it. This eliminates the fear of TSS. 

how does it work? 

You fold it and insert it into your vagina. It has very small holes at the top that help create a suction.

It will unfold naturally, but you may need to twist it slightly with the stem to make sure it has completely unfolded. 

It will rest against your vaginal walls. This action helps to reduce cramps – yeah. You read that right. 

IT HELPS REDUCE CRAMPS. 

how long does it last? 

That depends on your personal flow and cup. On average they hold two super tampons worth of blood. It’s recommended to change it every twelve hours. 

On my two heaviest days, I empty it when I wake up and before bed. On the other 3-5 days, I only change it before bed. 

I feel like I don’t even have a period anymore. 

I hardly ever have to deal with it. I only have to come to terms with the fact that my uterus is destroying itself 5-7 times rather than every single time I go to the bathroom. 

what happens when the cup is full? 

Do this sitting on the toilet. There’s a stem like a tampon string that you can tug on or kegel down. When the stem of the cup is out you can easily pinch the base of the cup releasing the suction. Flip the cup out and dump the blood into the toilet bowl. 

Now, if you had a bidet, you could wash that whole area. It’s not necessary, but it’s SO NICE. I cannot recommend a bidet attachment highly enough. 

Rinse the cup out in the sink, if you’re in that kinda bathroom, and reinsert. If you don’t have that sort of privacy, you can re-insert and wash it at your next convenient time. 

what about leaking? 

I haven’t had a problem with leaking. I’m talking white pants, commando kinda confidence. Tampon commercial kinda confidence! I have never felt so secure in my life. 

Everyone is different, if you’re having a lot of problems with leaking, you may have the wrong type of cup for your body.

But, if you’re just leaking a little then Thinx might be perfect for you.

Thinx look just like regular undies, but they can absorb up to two tampons worth of blood depending on the style.

Plus, they are so much more comfortable than pads, and I have a whole guide comparing and contrasting every style of Thinx offered.

how do I know which type is right for me!?!?

This is THE most stressful part about buying a cup. Thankfully, there is a blog that does nothing but menstrual cup FAQ and comparison. It’s an insanely helpful site. I highly recommend you check it out: Menstrual Cup Advice

I was super wary of the cup. I bought the blossom cup because it was made in the USA, but most importantly if you don’t love it – you can get your money back! 

There is no losing. So, if you’re on the fence, it’s time to take the plunge. 

Other common cups include the lunette and the diva

but, I can’t wear tampons? can I use a cup? 

Fun fact: I couldn’t wear tampons either. Or rather, I really did NOT like using them. It really messed with my body chemistry. They were exceedingly uncomfortable. So, I pretty much wore pads. 

Exceedingly uncomfortable, no fun, kinda gross pads. But, the menstrual cup has been amazing. So, I would definitely give it a try. 

benefits: 

better for your body

Tampons absorb 35% of your natural moisture causing a pH imbalance. They also leave behind fibers and can cause TSS. If they aren’t organic, they will leach bleach and other not nice chemicals into your blood stream. 

better for the environment

One cup can last 10 – 20 years. You’re diverting at the least 2,880 tampons and pads from the landfill. And, think of all the resources you’re saving from the creation of the products? 

better for you wallet

A one time $20-$30 purchase that lasts 10-20 years. Over the $5-$10 spent on every period. That’s over $1,000 savings. 

Other things I love – never having to run to the store at midnight; because, my period unexpectedly started. 

is there a downside? 

It can’t control my chocolate cravings. Thankfully, I can buy lots of chocolate from the bulk bins at Rainbow. Or make my favorite brownies

beginners tips: 

  • The first couple of times you use it, I recommend using lube to help get it into place. Check out my recipe for DIY Personal Lubricant.
  • You will not feel it if it’s in the correct place.
  • Insert it and practice before your period.

I would love to hear what you think about the menstrual cup? Do you have any tips? 

*This post may contain affiliate linking you can read more on my disclosure page.

how to use a menstrual cup from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #menstrualcup #zerowasteperiods #periods #plasticfree #gogreen #sustainable
how to use a menstrual cup from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #menstrualcup #zerowasteperiods #periods #plasticfree #gogreen #sustainable
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  1. I absolutely love my menstrual cup (a MeLuna) that I have used for several years now, and will never go back to pads.
    You asked for tips:
    Some people find it difficult to get the cup out. I recommend standing in a squat position with legs wide apart either side of the toilet (basically a sitting position while standing up). And then press down with the vaginal muscles. The cup is pushed down far enough, that you can get hold of it.

  2. I used tampons for years and years and years. The menstrual cup I now use it so much more comfortable! I am no longer afraid to leak into my pants, my bed, etc. I know this sounds gross but hey, this is a woman’s reality!
    While I found it hard to grope around my private parts at first, it took me about two periods to handle the cup well. That’s it! It’s all a matter of getting used to it.

    I just had a spine operation and must not bend over for 12 weeks. This is the only thing that keeps me from using the cup in this period. As soon as the medical reasons, i.e. the instable spine, are gone, I will go back to using the cup.

    I recommend it to any woman, any age!

  3. Ugh, YES. Diva Cup all the way. Cleaning hasn’t been mentioned yet, but I boil mine at the start and at the end of my period. If blood and gore doesn’t bother you (and your shower doesn’t have any draining problems), you could dump it out and rinse it while showering instead of worrying about dumping and rinsing while out and about in the world. Helpful for the people that don’t have bidets but still want to be squeaky clean!

    I mean, periods can still be crummy but it’s really nice to have one less thing to worry about.

  4. I’ve had the same Diva Cup for… ten years now? GREAT investment.

    Despite being both young and a virgin when I bought mine, I bought the bigger size; the size difference was tiny, and I was hoping that a single cup might see me through to menopause. Check back with me in a decade or two.

    TIP: look up different menstrual cup folds before trying out your cup.

  5. Have you done any research on being able to use a cup postpartum? I was told not to insert a tampon or anything in the 6 weeks after I had my baby to prevent vaginal or uterine infections, so I’m wondering if the cup would be the same way, or if it’s more hygienic. Not having to wear monster pads after giving birth would be phenomenal! Thanks for the post, I’m definitely going to look into it now! Seems like an easy way to go Zero Waste 🙂 (and I’m all for less cramping!!)

    1. That’s a good question. I can do some research, but I don’t think it would be appropriate for postpartum…. but I’ve never had a baby or done any research – so what do I know!? Lol. I would look into cloth pads or the period underwear. Both much more comfortable than the monster disposable pads.

  6. I have been using my Lena cup for a few cycles now, I really like that I can now have one more waste and chemical free aspect of my life, but it leaks! Not a lot, but enough to where I’m using up my supply of panty liners while i try to trouble shoot it. I don’t really know why it’s leaking because I feel like its in correctly. Does this mean I need a firmer cup perhaps?? I tried to do research beforehand but sometimes trial and error are how things go… any advice is appreciated!

  7. Great post! I started using a MeLuna cup a few months ago and it has changed my whole perspective on periods! It’s great not having to ask someone if they have a tampon because you’ve run out. It’s great not having to change it every time you go to the loo. It’s great not having to hide a tampon up my sleeve or try and subtly shove one in my pocket whilst I’m at work.
    Took me a few goes to get used to putting it in, but as you said, gets easier with time.
    I’ve told a number of my friends although I think they need more convincing!

  8. Hi!! I’ve been using Aneer cup for 10 months. I didn’t search a lot about it but a friend of my mom told her about the brand she uses (Aneer) and I bought it. But few weeks ago I read about the chinese cups and I’m a little scared… I haven’t had any problem with Aneer but wanted to change it for security. I was looking up MeLuna but is made of TPE (thermoplastic elastomers) and I donk’t know if it’s safe for our body. Is that plastic? I was looking for information but the search wasn’t clear. I hope you or someone can give me an advice.

      1. Thanks for the reply! I wasn’t sure about MeLuna but Aneer is working fine with me, I’m pretty sure it was made of silicone (I searched information about testing it) but if I need to switch I would have in mind your options.
        I live in Lima, Peru and there’s no company which made a menstrual cup but we produce cotton and I found local business that made organic cotton pads.

  9. I tried the Diva Cup a few years ago and it didn’t work for me ( it leaked a lot, several times), but still wanted to have a Zero Waste period. Because I am an athlete and NEED to make sure I don’t leak, I wasn’t willing to keep trying to make it work. Luckily, I came across natural sea sponges. Jade and Pearl was the first brand I came across, but now there are a TON of sellers on places like Etsy and Amazon. It’s more like a tampon (absorbing rather than catching blood), so I don’t know if affects your body’s pH the same way a "regular" tampon does.

    For ladies like me who can’t do the cups, check out sea sponges. Each sponge lasts 8-12 months, and they are EASY! When I need to change it and I’m in a private bathroom, I wash it out in the sink, squeeze out the moisture and reinsert. When I’m in a public bathroom, I squeeze the blood out into the toilet, dab the blood off my hand, reinsert, and then wash my hands very well. When my period ends, I rinse the sponge out extra well and then take a cup of warm water, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and soak the sponge for 10 minutes. I then squeeze that out and put in inside a small cloth bag to dry.

    To the comment from Christina Martin, I read about Zero Waste birth/postpartum on a different blog that might be helpful to you: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2016/05/plastic-free-zero-waste-childbirth/.

    Hope that helps!

  10. I’ve been using a cup for about a year now and I love it! So easy to use and saves me money, time, and the world waste every period 😀 I pop it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes at the end of every cycle to keep it sterile.
    I also have some reusable bamboo fibre which are great if you are worried about leaking (which I am, especially if I’m staying over at someone’s house for the night!) and I’d never go back to conventional pads now, these are so comfy and the brand I bought them from (Earthwise girls) donates one to an orphaned girl in Kenya through the Nasio Trust for each 3 pack you buy which I think is lovely.
    Great post Kathryn. I’d love for everyone to try out the reusable options, I have suggested them to all my female friends 🙂

  11. A diaphram can also be used to catch menstrual flow, and when used properly is a good firm of b.c. We have 2 planned kids, and used a diaphram for b.c. for years. No hormones, no condoms and wrappers, and i used it during my cycle as well, so no tampons.

  12. Hi! I’ve been using the cup for a few years and I love it, but I’ve to say that my skin in there is more sensible since using it. It’s still much better than before and I would never go back to disposable methods. But I discovered recently this menstrual pants made by an Spanish company (I live there) http://www.cocoro-intim.com/es/.
    Some of my friends have try them and are very happy, I got one this month but haven’t try them yet, so I don’t really have a proper opinion about them, but they look great! The web is only in Spanish and Catalan, but I’ll be happy to translate it or contact them for you if you’ll be interested. I think they’re a great option for women who can’t use menstrual cups 🙂

  13. Thanks for your nice informative post on the menstrual cup. I am confused about one thing and asking for your advice. I found many eco-friendly menstrual cups but are those really eco-friendly?? Hope to see more post on it. I have found another article on the menstrual cup. In this article, I found eco-friendly menstrual cups review. After reading the review the question comes to my mind. Please advise if possible. You can check it for more information: http://besttopreviewsonline.com/blog/10-best-menstrual-cup-for-beginners/

  14. No se que hago mal… Pero sigo teniendo perdidas… Es mi segundo periodo con la copa y nunca se cuando esta bien puesta…

  15. For anybody who has trouble with leaking, what may work is to cut the stem shorter and flip the cup inside out to wear it. I used to have leaking with my Diva Cup until I read this suggestion somewhere. Now I never have leaking unless I let the cup get too full. I empty it twice a day on the first day of my period and before bed the rest of my cycle. Turning it inside out makes it shorter and somehow makes it sit better inside on me.

  16. Just finding your blog now and it’s fantastic! So much good advice. This post has motivated me to finally purchase a cup – I have been thinking about it for quite some time! Another awesome up and coming company is called THINX (https://www.shethinx.com/) they make underwear that you can wear during your period that WILL NOT leak (I own 3 pairs and have never ever had leaking). Different ones hold more or less liquid, descriptions are on the website. All you have to do is rinse them before washing normally! Amazing for anyone who wants another option or maybe some extra protection when using the cup 🙂

  17. I really wanted to be able to use the menstrual cup, but my gynecologist was concerned that it would interfere with my IUD (birth control). He said that the suction when trying to remove the menstrual cup can cause the IUD to dislodge. Ugh!

    1. I think that’s BS! I got an IUD three years ago and started using a menstrual cup just a few months afterwards. My IUD has stayed perfectly in place! Might want to get a second opinion from another doctor.

  18. Thank you for the post (even over two years later). Well documented blog I like it so much. About cramps, depends on the body it doesn’t reduce them. For me it’s even worse, so for this simple reason I don’t wear cups anymore. But I really like the concept of it!

  19. I’ve been trying to use a menstrual cup for 8 months now and I still can’t get it to stop leaking. I’ve tried both the Lena Cup and Lily Cup. I’ve reached out to a few resources, done a TON of research, and have tried EVERYTHING to try to get it not to leak. Is it possible that my anatomy just isn’t suitable for a menstrual cup? Unfortunately I think I have to resort back to wasteful tampons. 🙁 Any suggestions on eco-friendly tampons?

    1. Hi Hilary (and Kathryn; I’m so sorry if this comment is over-stepping, feel free to delete if it is!), have you tried different sizes/brands of menstrual cups? I know you said you’ve tried everything, but maybe check out more cups if possible. Some of them even have a return policy if it isn’t suitable. I personally have a JuJu cup from Australia, and it’s pretty different to the Lena and Lily. Might be worth a try? So sorry your experience hasn’t been great, but good luck! x

  20. I first got into reusable menstrual cups 14 years ago. I don’t recommend them anymore. Suction is too strong and can contribute to uterine prolapse esp with women with weak ligaments or just gave birth. Plus difficult to fully sterilize. Safest products out there that are also zero waste (or minimal waste) would be reusable menstrual pads and period panties.

  21. They take some getting used to, but I am very happy with my cup. It was, I think, the first "zero waste" change I made, though I came at it from a cost-effective motivation!

  22. I’ve read so much about it and was super excited about giving it a try. But I echo what Hilary (from the comments below) said – I don’t think my anatomy is suitable for a cup either. I know it takes practise and patience to learn how to properly insert and take it out, but after trying to take mine out for an hour, I kind of got traumatized. The insertion part was easy peasy (with the help of some lubrication). But when I tried to take it out, I just couldn’t reach it (as it seemed to have dislocated in a weird angle) and muscle movement did nothing to me. It wasn’t moving down. Although I think I’ve inserted it low enough, when I walked around, it must have moved, because at the first glance, it was nowhere to be found which I think is due to my slightly tilted vaginal canal. Now, I don’t know about the rest of women out there, but I have never really "searched" for anything in me using two open fingers.
    I really respect and admire all women who say it’s easy. What people usually don’t mention is that you have to feel very comfortable with your body and be ready to truly explore. For me, it was one of the most stressful experiences and I just don’t have a courage to repeat it. I’ve made many switches in my household but this has been one of the hardest.

  23. I have been using cups for two years now and I would never go back to pads again.
    Lily cup compact and ziggy disc are life changers.