Reusable Resolutions & Reusable Instead Softcup

Hello lovelies! With the New Year just around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect about areas of our life that we could improve upon. I’m focused on important things like increasing my GPA and maintaining relationships as my college friends continue to shuffle around the country and the globe, but I also want to work on decreasing my negative impact on the environment. One way I could do that is to cut out a lot of disposable things that I use and toss out everyday.  I can easily generate a long list of disposable stuff that I could replace with reusable items, most of which I already own.

  1. drink cups – water bottle, thermos
  2.  razor blades – epilator
  3. tissues – hankerchief
  4. grocery bags – nylon shopping bags
  5. cotton swabs – wash cloth
my envirosax.com bag that is really cute and portable!

We really live in world full of disposable products, but there are alternatives to almost every option. So I am going to try to make a conscious effort this year to bring my shopping bags with me when I go to the store, or my water bottle when I go to the dining hall, and in general reduce the amount of waste I generate with my reusable resolutions.   Because although a lot of the stuff we throw away may be biodegradable, nothing decomposes very fast in landfills. Things need the proper space and time to decompose, like a compost pile, or else we will end up like the crummy garbage filled world pictured in Wall-E.

Where am I going with this? Well, I think this time of the year is a good time to try new things, and for you, reader, one of things might be a reusable menstrual product. One woman will dispose of thousands of tampons or pads in her lifetime (and spend a fortune on them too), and we make up half of the population so that's a lot of used tampons. (Yuck!) These are usually made of some combination of cotton and plastic, and like I said, nothing decomposes in landfills. Nothing. In the future, archaeologists are going to be able to learn everything about our lives from them, because it will also still be there to get dug up. But anyways, this New Year, why not try something new that will help the environment and save you money? Like... reusable menstrual products, perhaps?

my Lunette menstrual cup

There are lots of options under this category: silicone menstrual cups, cloths pads, sponges, etc. but today I am going to be discussing the new reusable Softcup, which I was very excited to try out and compare to the disposable Softcup which I have used before. For those of you that don't know, Softcup is a menstrual cup composed of a crinkly plastic ring and a firmer plastic rim.( For more information about the Softcup see my original review.) The new reusable Softcup comes in green packaging and was designed to be used for one cycle. I have yet to see this in a drugstore, but they are available to buy from the company’s website.

reusable Softcup and packaging

The disposable Softcup and the reusable Softcup are exactly the same size, but they both differ from the Softcup that was on the market when I last did a review of disposable Softcup.  The rim for both disposable and reusable versions of Softcup has gotten thinner, which I think will improve comfort during sex, but the diameter has stayed exactly the same. The sac that holds the menstrual fluid also seems shorter now, although I did not notice any difference in capacity.  So if Softcup didn’t work for you before because of its size, then I am betting it still would not work for you with this slightly different model. They have also changed the packaging on the disposable Softcup from a purple to a pink box, although the wrapper on an individual Softcup is still purple. The box is also much smaller. For some great comparison pictures of the new and old Softcup design check out this livejournal post.

new design disposable Softcup and packaging

As a regular user of disposable Softcup, I have personally reused one cup whole period and then thrown it away, even though that’s not recommended by the company. I started using Softcup after trying out the Lunette and DivaCup, which are menstrual cups designed to be used for years and years, so it seemed weird to throw out a cup.  They are easy to rinse with water after removal and reinsert. Women have done this before, and they will do it again. If you’re a menstruation nerd like me you might know about one of the earliest menstrual cups, Tassaway, which you were supposed to toss away after each use, but many women reused them because their wear time was longer.  Regardless of my tangent, I am glad that the Softcup company came out with this product, because it sounds like they are listening to their customers.

green wrapper for reusable Softcup

The packaging for this product is literally very "green" and super cute. It came with some instructions, which are easy to read and very helpful for troubleshooting. I tried the reusable Softcup out for about three days of my last period, and it did not leak once, even though I wore it for long periods of time and slept with it in.  (It did “leak” a little when I peed, but that’s only because I move my pelvic muscles at the same time which slides the Softcup down a little.) The Softcup seems easier to insert, now that the rim is a teensy bit thinner. The firmer rim was noticeable during and just after insertion, but I could not feel it after about a minute or so.  

reusable Softcup

The Softcup rinsed clean fairly easily with water and a little elbow grease, and there was no menstrual fluid that got caught in any crooks or crannies of the rim or sac. However, this cup seems like it would be rather hard to clean without running water—i.e. in a public bathroom stall. Unlike a bell shaped menstrual cup, where all the fluid pools in the bottom and pours out easily, the fluid is always spread out across the bottom of the sac with this cup. Since I have rather gelatinous fluid it doesn’t slide easily off of the cup and into the toilet, which means I would have to spend a lot of time wiping out the fluid with TP, which is just not my favorite thing to do.  I think bell shamed cups are just easier and faster to use on the go.

The materials, which include a slightly firmer rim and a thicker, more durable looking material for the sac, held up the whole time, and I was not afraid that I would accidentally puncture the cup with a fingernail or something like that. Removal was simple and as non-messy as possible as long as I kept the Softcup upright, which is easy as long as you are careful and paying attention to what you are doing. I generally only spill fluid when I'm either tired or not thinking about what I'm doing with my cup.

disposable Softcup (left) and reusable Softcup (right)

I also tried out the new design of the disposable Softcup for the last two days of my period, which is very similar because it has the same dimensions but different materials. 

It also performed just as well and did not leak. Again, It has the same dimensions as the reusable Softcup, so it does not seem any different when inserting, besides having a less firm rim that was slightly more comfortable during insertion. The major difference I found that when I tried to rinse it clean, the menstrual fluid was prone to getting stuck between the rim and the sac.  I genuinely do not think this cup is as durable as the new reusable version or as easy to clean, although it’s almost identical in other aspects.The sac material feels less durable and is clear and shiny, while the rim is light pink and softer than that of the reusable Softcup.

The only caveat I have to this review is that I disagree with this new Softcup being described as “reusable," because honestly I don’t consider a product that you throw away after 5-10 uses to be truly reusable, at least in the way I think about the meaning of the word.  In my humble opinion, I think reusable things should be reusable... for pretty much forever. I am going to continue to use the same Softcup (after sanitizing with rubbing alcohol of course) and see how long one cup can hold up. And while I think this product is a great way to ease yourself into trying alternative menstrual products if you are leery about the prospect of them, it does not help the environment as much as using a Lunette or the DivaCup does. Reusable Softcup does technically produce less waste when compared to tampons or pads, but it seems like the waste that is produced would be harder to get rid of in the end.  That is my only serious beef with the new reusable Softcup, and otherwise I really like it. 

Overall I think it’s a definitely a step up from the disposable version, and I will probably repurchase this instead of the disposable Softcup. And for me the Softcup is still far superior to any tampons or disposable pads, because you can wear them while having sex, for longer amounts of time, without the risk of TSS, without odor, and while sleeping, exercising, or whatever.

Anyways, I hope y’all have a safe and relaxing holiday season! I am going to reward myself with some new thong cloth liners from etsy with my Christmas money as my first step towards being reusable (to eliminate some disposable liners I have been using with my sexier undies). I might also buy a few more nylon shopping bags in cute prints, which I will place in each purse so that I am never without. I am also determined to become one of those people who are constantly attached to their water bottles. What about y’all? Do you have any reusable resolutions? Leave a comment below if you do.

FTC: The company provided me with these products to review on my blog, and I am being compensated for these blog posts on Softcup. However, I always write with my 100% honest opinion about products on this blog.


Holiday Travels + Menses = Instead Softcup

Hello all! For the next couple of posts I will be doing a series of posts on the Instead Softcup. I originally did a review on the disposable menstrual cups back in March, 2011, so check out that post if you want to see my initial review and opinions on the product, and how to use them. Also I recently made a twitter for this blog under the username loveyourperiod; so if you want to keep up with my blog posts via twitter, follow me. :)

As a college student that lives far away from home, I do a lot of traveling back and forth from home for breaks, especially during Christmas and Thanksgiving. So invariably, I will end up traveling with my period at some time or another. When you're running through the air port trying to catch your connection and feed yourself lunch, or when you have to sit in the car for seven to eight hours with your dad the last thing you want to worry about is needing to change your "feminine protection." This is where Softcup can really come in handy.

One of the biggest advantages to Softcup is the ability to wear them for 12 hours. Now this isn't for every woman, especially those with a heavy flow, but I have found that I can wear a Softcup for 10-12 hours without leaking, unless I have a very heavy day. (I consider myself to have a moderate flow compared to other women.) Although, the exact capacity hasn't been measured, Softcup come in somewhere quite a ways ahead of regular absorbency tampons. This means that you can wear a Softcup for longer than a tampon without leaking. 

And even if they made tampons that could compete with the capacity of Softcup--I do know there are some pretty hefty tampons out there--it's not healthy to wear the same tampon for more than eight hours because of risks for bacteria infection and TSS. The pink ring on Softcup is made of polymeric material that is also used in catheters and baby bottle nipples, so the material is inert and will not harbor bacteria, unlike the cotton in tampons. Before Softcup was put on the market, testing was done to see if the product altered bacteria levels in the vagina; the results showed that there was no change in bacteria levels for the women in the study. (This is not the case with tampons.) This suggests that there is no risk for infection with Softcups, even if you are wearing them for 12 hours at a time.

Since Softcup has a longer wearing time than tampons, this makes them a great option for traveling. When I fly, I can pop in a Softcup before I leave for the airport, make to the airport, through my flight and connections, and back home before I need to change to a different Softcup. If was wearing a tampon, I would be more worried about it leaking, or needing to change to a new one while I was flying in one of those horrid airplane bathrooms. I am not the most organized person, so flying is always a little stressful, and it's nice to not have to add another element to the process. Softcup is also a lifesaver on long family car rides, where the objective is usually to keep driving for as long as possible without stopping. There are no surprise pit stops because of my period, and I may be able to make it the whole car ride without changing my Softcup.

image from http://www.softcup.com/

Another benefit for traveling, is the ability to reuse the same Softcup for one period and save some space in your suitcase. Softcup recently came out with a reusable Softcup designed to be used for an entire period or menstrual cycle, which I think is awesome. (Personally, I always reused the regular Softcup for an entire period anyways, even though they were intended to be one-use disposable products; they were still pretty easy to rinse and reuse.)  Either way, bringing just one Softcup on a trip takes up a lot less space in your suitcase, than the usual large kit of tampons and pads. 

image from http://www.softcup.com/

Overall, Softcup are one of my favorite options for traveling, and they work well for me. I can wear the Softcup for 10-12 hours; it's great with physical activity; you can't feel it when it's inside; I can sleep in them; it doesn't do funky things to my lady parts; I have used it during sex with a moderate amount of comfort (more on this later); and I don't have period odor when wearing them. Some women do have difficulty using Softcup however, so I am not going to guarantee that this will be the perfect menstrual product for every woman. Different strokes for different folks, and like any new menstrual product it takes some practice and a couple cycles to become completely comfortable with the Softcup.
    Thank you for reading! I hope y'all have a wonderful holiday season and safe travels. :) If you have any questions or idle comments please leave them in the comment section of this post or send them to me on twitter! For more information on Instead Softcups, please visit the lovely and very helpful Softcup website. You can also take a look at this how-to page on wikiHow, if you have any questions about using the cup.

    FTC: I was asked to do this series of posts on Instead Softcup by their marketing company, and I am being compensated, however these are still my honest opinions about the product.


    Cloth Pantiliners, a Review

    EDIT: I made this blog post before I found my favorite maker for cloth liners, Wee Essentials, who make super comfortable and most importantly thin liners. Below I described the liners as bulky, but if bought from the right maker they are definitely not. An updated review to come soon for Wee Essentials :)

    Hello, dears! I decided to write a blog post here today, because it has been rather neglected lately. Also, recently a couple of companies have contacted me to do some review work for them. So stay tuned for more review posts and giveaways!

    a striped cloth pantiliner from Pixadoodles

    The subject of today's post is cloth pads, or more specifically cloth pantiliners. When I first heard of this product I was rather grossed out. To begin with, I am very much a fan of internal products, because I dislike sitting in my own menstrual fluid. One of my favorite things about switching to a reusable cup was that I could wear it while I slept and avoid overnight pads, which always leaked on me, stuck in unmentionable places, and felt like huge diapers. Cloth pads doubled the "ick factor" because after they have been used and are all bloody, you have to wash them. Suffice to say, the idea of washing cloth pads did not seem appealing at first.

    fun flamingo liner from eBay

    I still don't have full-sized cloth pads, but I use cloth pantiliners on a daily basis. Since I started my period, I have always had a lot of vaginal discharge. And I mean a lot! If I don't wear protection some days it will seep through my pants. So the first solution I found for this problem was to wear a disposable pantiliner every day. I always had a pack or two of the purple Always brand, unscented, pantiliners stashed away in my room. I would have to restock fairly frequently, which was annoying, and my trash can was always full of old pantiliners and wrappers. Every time I went anywhere, I had a spare liner in my purse or backpack just in case.

    When I switched to using a menstrual cup, I naturally started to feel a little guilty about wearing my Always liners. What's the point in using a cup, if you're still throwing away liners every day? At one point I did switch to using organic cotton pantiliners, because I had heard way too much bad information about non-organic pads and pantiliners. (They are usually made with a lot of plastic, are not biodegradable in the slightest, are made of bleached cotton, and spread bacteria to the various different lady parts down there. More on this later.) But I still felt guilty about using disposables, and disposable liners also have that annoying problem of peeling off and sticking in unmentionable places. I had the option of using my small meluna continuously to catch the discharge, but I like to let things air out down there when I'm not on my period.

    small ring-style meluna menstrual cup

    So I decided to take the plunge and order a few cloth pantiliners to see if I liked them. And lo and behold, these things were the answer to my prayers! I found my cloth pantiliners to be much softer and more comfortable than disposables had ever been. They could go a whole day without getting soggy and gross, so they had better absorbency as well. (If needed they can also be flipped over to the dry side too!) They didn't peel off and stick to unmentionable places, and I found that I could throw them in the washing machine and dryer like regular laundry. I still don't use full fledged cloth pads for my period... I primarily use pantiliners as back up for my menstrual cup, or I might use them at the tail end of my period when it's very light. But I found that even when I got a little blood on the liners, it washed out in the wash without staining anything else. And to boot, cloth pantiliners are made with colorful, pretty fabrics. My boyfriend even said they were cute...

    adorable hello kitty liner from Pixadoodles

    This isn't to say cloth liners aren't without their drawbacks. They are a bit more bulky than a disposable liner, so it takes a bit of getting used to, although this depends on the style of the liner. (The wingless style feels far less bulky.) You have to go through a bit of a trial and error process before you find the liners that you like. They require extra effort because you have to wash them instead of just throwing them away, but if you do laundry regularly that shouldn't be a problem. Lastly, like any reusable menstrual product, cloth liners are going to be more expensive upfront ($3-8 per liner, and more for pads), but they are going to be less expensive in the long run. Overall, for me the pros easily outweigh the cons! These are also a great option for someone who is not comfortable with trying out a menstrual cup, but wants to use reusable menstrual products that are better for themselves and the environment.

    EDIT: Since writing this post I have found and fallen in love with Wee Essentials liners. They are very light and not bulky at all like I wrote about here. Updated post to come...

    some Pixadoodles liners with stains

    Next, I'd like to outline a few things someone should consider before purchasing cloth liners or pads in general. I recommend sampling a couple different types of cloth pads in different styles and fabrics before you buy them in bulk because they are a lot of factors to consider:
    • Material: Since they are made of cloth, the material is going to be a very important factor when deciding what to buy. Consider whether you want a top layer of flat, quilter's cotton, cotton flannel cloth, or another fabric on your pads. Cotton will tend to feel colder, while flannel feels warmer. If you associate coldness with wetness, flannel may be a better fit for you. However, cotton has a smoother texture more similar to most underwear. Personally I prefer flannel liners, because they seem to wick away moisture better. Another thing to consider is whether you want PUL, nylon, or another waterproof layers in your pads that will prevent leaking; if you're going to use cloth pads as your only menstrual protection, and not in combo with a cup, this is a good option.
    a "Party in Your Pants" demiliner with nylon, waterproof fabric

    • Size: Before buying pads, you will want to take out a measuring tape and measure your underwear where a pad would normally sit. Normally, you want your pads to be about the same width or maybe a little smaller, so they stay nice and snug on your underwear. Also, measure the length of your favorite pads and liners. While this isn't as important, you won't want to end up with super long or super short liners. Keep these measurements in line, and compare them to descriptions while shopping.

    some wingless liners from thecrazyelephant

    • Style: There are winged cloth pads, and pads without wings. I prefer the ones with wings, because they stay in place much easier. But on the other hand, the wingless pads feel far lighter and less bulky to wear. There are also lots of different styles of pads, such as thong shaped pads or pads built into liners. I do not claim to be an expert as far as all the styles, because I have shopped mainly in the low end of the spectrum. Choose a style that's best for your priorities.

    In conclusion, I love my cloth liners and I will never go back to wearing a disposable liner every day! I now have a rather large collection of liners, so I can go a week or so without doing laundry. They are comfortable and cute, and they float my boat. For more in depth information on cloth pads, you may want to check out Reusable Menstrual Products.

    my cloth liner stash! :)

    As far as purchasing cloth pads or liners, here are some websites I would recommend:

    • Etsy.com - As the haven for beautiful, homemade goods, you can find some serious deals and some beautiful pads here. Just search "cloth pads" "cloth pantiliners" etc. My favorite liners are made by Pixadoodles. The extremely cute wingless pantiliners pictured above are from thecrazyelephant. Most esty sellers are more than willing to sell you one sample pad before you buy a whole pack from them--just send them a private message.
    • eBay.com - This is also a great place to find deals on homemade pads. I bought the flamingo liner pictured above from eBay... unfortunately I do not remember the seller.
    • Independent websites like Lunapads.com, FeminineWear.com, and Gladrags.com. These tend to be a bit pricier, but there are always coupon codes floating around.
    Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment about your experiences with cloth pads or if you have any questions for me.


    Reasons to Consider a Menstrual Cup

    Since I've been doing a lot of reviews lately, I wanted to try something different and go through all the Pros and Cons of menstrual cups. So, here we go. :)

    Various menstrual cups

    A menstrual cup, is a small silicone, TPE, or rubber cup that is inserted into the vagina during a women's period. It collects the fluid instead of absorbing it like a tampon, and is rinsed and reinserted between uses. That's right, it's a reusable menstrual product! If you haven't heard of these before, you are probably pretty grossed out right now. But before you click away, read a little more, and I think you'll understand the benefits of a menstrual cup, even if you don't necessarily want to try one out. Menstrual cups...

    1. Save you money. The average women uses $4000 worth of disposable menstrual products in her lifetime. $4000! Just think of all the shoes I will be able to buy now that I've switched. Menstrual cups, depending on the brand and where you buy them, cost only $25-50. And they last for 10 or more years if you take care of your cup.

    2. Save you trips to the drugstore. You never have to replenish your stock of tampons or pads. No more stopping for emergency supplies because you just got your period, and I always absolutely hated getting checked out by a male cashier when I was buying tampons.

    3. Are environmentally friendly. That average women we were talking about uses about 16,000 disposable menstrual products in her lifetime. If there are 7 billion people in the world, we have 3.5 billion people that will have a period every month for about 40 years. Just think about how many pads and tampons must go into landfills daily. Since nothing really decomposes in landfills, disposable menstrual products are a big contributor to human waste. Most cups are made of silicone, which is recyclable, and they are reusable. So if you are a bit of a tree hugger like me, or if you just tend to choose sustainable products, the menstrual cup is the way to go.


    4. Are healthier for your body. When most of my friends heard about menstrual cups from me, they were really grossed out because it seemed unhygienic. However, I would argue that menstrual cups are just as hygienic and healthier than tampons or pads. They are made of inert medical grade silicone, rubber, or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), which does not harbor bacteria, while blood soaked cotton provides an environment for bacteria to grow. This is why tampons are linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome and vaginal infections, and pads are linked to UTIs. Of course, these problems with disposables can be avoided by changing them regularly, but there are still other health benefits with cups. Tampons and pads are made with lots of chemicals, fragrances, and bleached cotton. Menstrual cups have not been linked to any health problems, and they keep the vaginal environment intact, by not sucking up extra moisture like tampons. Many cups also have measuring lines so you can monitor your flow to check to see if it's a healthy amount.

    5. Are vagina positive. When using a menstrual cup, you learn more about your vagina, your cervix, and your cycle. It's a great feeling to be more in tune with your own body. When I was using tampons and pads, I threw away the tampon after using it, and my period was generally gross, smelly, and annoying. With a menstrual cup I saw my own flow and realized it was a natural, healthy process. I don't think it's gross anymore, and I know a lot more about how my body works.

    6. Last longer. They have higher capacities than tampons and pads, so you can change a cup less frequently. If you have a moderate to light flow, you will be able to change the cup every 12 hours or so. The most absorbent tampon has about a 15ml capacity, and cups range from 15ml to 30ml of capacity. (Tampons may leak before they are fully saturated as well.) So for women with very heavy periods, this is a great solution. Personally, I can leave my cup in for a whole day without needing to change it. :)

    7. Give you a "happier period." Menstrual cups do what tampons and pads have always promised to do in their commercials. There is no string, so cups show nothing outside of the body, and there's no period odor. Unlike tampons, you can put a cup in before your period starts, about when you think it's supposed to come; this is really helpful if you have an irregular cycle. Some women (not me) also find that their cramps decrease or go away when they start using a cup. I forget that I'm on my period all the time while I'm wearing a cup. :)

    8. Are great for a busy, active lifestyle. You only need one cup while traveling or in your purse/backpack, instead of hauling around a case of tampons whenever you go on a long trip. They are great for long trips because they last longer, and if you go hiking, you don't need to worry about carrying around and disposing of tampons or pads. Menstrual cups can be worn while swimming, sleeping, horseback riding, doing yoga, etc.

    9. Are pretty. Menstrual cups come in lots of different colors, and some are even made with glitter. Even though no one sees my cup while I'm on my period, I feel better because I'm using something cute. :)

    MeLuna menstrual cups

    10. Leak less often. A study done on cups found that they leaked half as often as tampons or pads, and had to be changed 2.8 times less often for the women in study. If nothing else a menstrual product shouldn't leak, and it should make your life easier. My cups only leak if I let them overflow, meaning I left them in too long, whereas I always got an old discharge/blood mixture and occasional leaking with tampons. I've also ruined underwear, pajama bottoms, and sheets while wearing pads at night; I'm much more confident, and sleep easier when I'm wearing my cup.

    11. Are so much more comfortable. Menstrual cups are made of soft squishy silicone, and I never feel mine when it's inside. I always found tampons very stiff and uncomfortable while exercising--like I literally had a stick up my vagina. Pads always felt like diapers to me and they tend to shift around and leak, and sometimes the sticky part gets stuck in unmentionable places. Menstrual cups look large, but they fold up small for insertion, and if your vagina can fit a penis, or a baby's head, it can also fit a folded up menstrual cup. If you unroll a tampon and compare it to a menstrual cup they are about the same size anyways.

    A DivaCup folded up nice and small

    There are a few characteristics about menstrual cups some might call negative, and it would be dishonest for me to leave them out of this post. But honestly I don't think they are that big of a deal. Also menstrual cups...

    1. Are hands on. You have to actually put your fingers inside your vagina and you will see your menstrual fluid. If this makes you squeamish, this may not be the best option for you. But honestly it's natural to know about your own vagina and you should be comfortable with your own bodily functions. Many women around the world use non-applicator tampons, which also involve using your fingers.

    2. May be more difficult to use. Like tampons, menstrual cups have a learning curve when you are using them for the first time, only it is a bit longer (about 1-3 cycles). You can decrease this time, by reading the instructions thoroughly and watching instructional videos etc. I had no leaks when I first started using a cup because I was already well versed in the insertion and removal process.

    3. Require a bit more time and effort. I'd say menstrual cups add about a minute to the time it takes to change them, when compared to tampons. You also have to take about five minutes out of your day to clean your cup after the end of your period. Big whoop. :)

    4. Can cause discomfort. Sometimes menstrual cups can press on the bladder or rectum for some women. (This did not happen for me.) I should also note, that some women have trouble going to the bathroom with the cup in (again not for me). This is easily solved by removing the cup beforehand, or switching to a softer cup with a less pronounced rim. I'm not going to claim that menstrual cups work for everyone, because they don't necessarily work for every woman. There are other reusable alternatives like sea sponge tampons and cloth pads, and you can also use organic cotton disposables, which are a lot healthier than their drugstore counterparts.

    So this concludes my post on the pros and cons of menstrual cups. I hope you found this helpful! Also just a note, menstrual cups can be used by virgins, just like tampons, I would just take a little extra care so as not to stretch or tear your hymen (aka cherry, corona). Leave a comment below if you would consider using a cup, or if you are already a cup user.

    You can watch my video on the advantages/disadvantages of cups here if you need extra persuasion. ;)

    If you'd like to try out a menstrual cup I recommend checking out:

    wikiHow - How to Use a Menstrual Cup

    wikiHow - How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Brand
    wikiHow - How to Clean a Menstrual Cup
    MenstrualCupInfo YouTube Videos

    Lunette Selene

    You can purchase menstrual cups from many online retailers, or check out your local Whole Foods or organic/health store. There are links to all the vendors on the wikiHow Choose a Menstrual Cup page, and I also recommend doing a search for "buy [brand of menstrual cup]" on Google to find the cheapest price. Thanks for reading! :)


    Lunette Menstrual Cup - A Review

    Oh Lunette, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

    First a little background. The Lunette menstrual cup is made in Finland and comes in blue (Lunette Selene) and green (Lunette Diana) currently, although they are going to sell the cup in purple and orange very soon. It comes in two sizes, like most menstrual cups. Interestingly, the larger size is made of a firmer silicone. I suppose the smaller size is made with softer material for younger women/cup users, who might be virgins and more apprehensive about using a firm cup. Lunettes have been approved by the FDA for sale in the US. If you're interested in purchasing a Lunette, check out their website (linked at the bottom of this post) although you may want to browse around the internet for better deals.

    I have the size 1 (smaller) Lunette Selene, and it's one of my favorite menstrual cups. It's soft and squishy, but firm enough to pop open easily inside the vagina. It has four large suction release holes under the brim that are easy to clean (in comparison to the DivaCup's tiny holes). The tab stem is also easy to clean because it isn't hollow, and very comfortable. (I did cut part of them stem off because it was a little too long for me.) The cup has "Lunette" and "Made in Finland" conveniently printed on the outside of the cup. Since flow collects on the inside of the cup, any logo or text traps menstrual fluid and is harder to clean between uses.

    The lunette has a frosty texture and grip lines along the base and stem; it's easy to get a firm grip during removal. I find the length of the small lunette to be very comfortable as well as the shape. This cup works for many women/cup users (as long as you have the right size), considering the fact that it has a nice squat shape. Sometimes longer cups will be pushed out by a lower cervix, or the cervix will dangle into a cup and take up capacity. The lunette has a great capacity even though it is short because of the bell shape, and it's nice and short if you cut off the stem completely.

    It's almost hard to come up with disadvantages of this cup, but there are a few. :) This cup has measuring lines on the outside, but they don't have any measurements written next to them, so that's not very helpful. Also the capacity of the small lunette is about 20ml, which doesn't last me as long as my small DivaCup. Honestly, this isn't a huge disadvantage, and since I have a moderate flow some day in the future I may look into purchasing a large Lunette Diana. (The moral of this story? Choose the right size.) The bag is made of a shiny, silky material that matches the cup. Mine has held up well, without breaking.

    The Lunette company has had some disputes with other menstrual cup companies concerning dupes of their product. One brand, Green Donna, which is still being sold on eBay, was an exact duplicate and the company has shut down. The MPower cup, which is similar but not an exact duplicate, has been barred from sale outside of South Africa because of a legal dispute with Lunette. They are currently redesigning their cup so it can be sold internationally again. The stem, grip rips, and rim of the MPower do look very similar to the Lunette, but the shape is different. You can decide for yourself. There are comparison photos of Green Donna and Lunette in MenstrualCupInfo's blog post, and comparison photos of MPower and Lunette in femininewear's flickr album. Also check out Lunette's side of the story in a post in the MenstrualCup.org forums and here's another blog post about Intellectual Property Rights. After browsing through all this, I think the Lunette company was right in doing this; they want to protect their design and be the only ones to profit from it.

    Overall I think the Lunette is a very well made cup, designed with the cup user in mind! It's offered in fun colors, easy to clean, and works well. Sometimes it gets labeled as a "starter cup," and while there is no cup one needs to start out with, this one certainly fits a lot of women/cup users. Keep in mind if you are going to purchase a lunette, you should base your decision of which size to get on all three of these factors; age, child birth, and flow. If you have given birth or are over 30, it's best to go with a larger cup, as a smaller cup may leak because your muscles are not as toned. But even if you aren't either of those things, and you have a heavy flow, go with the larger cup, because you'll have to change it less often. It says this on the Lunette website, but some companies don't make that distinction in their size guidelines.

    I hope you enjoyed this review! Leave a comment if you have any questions or if you've used a lunette. :)

    Here are some helpful links:
    The Lunette Website
    wikiHow - How to Buy/Choose a Menstrual Cup Brand
    wikiHow - How to Use a Menstrual Cup
    MenstrualCups.org - A LiveJournal Community


    The NuvaRing, a Review

    Today I'm here with another review for you of the NuvaRing. I've been using this form of birth control for about a month and a half so far, and I really like it! :) When I originally talked to my gynecologist I was dead set on getting the non-hormonal paraguard IUD. She gave me a prescription for the NuvaRing, and told me to think about it, since they didn't do IUD insertions at my school health clinic. I decided to try the NuvaRing then, because I learned IUD insertion can be painful for women that haven't had children. They insert it through the cervix, and if it hasn't been stretched before it's really painful. There's also a recovery period after the insertion. Someday I may get an IUD--because they're much less expensive in the long run--but for now I will stick with the NuvaRing.

    The NuvaRing is a small plastic ring, smaller than a tampon or menstrual cup, that you stick in your vagina. It secretes hormones that keep you from getting preggers for three weeks, and then you can take it out for a week while you have your period, or you can leave it in for that week too. (It's 99.9% effection, just like other hormonal methods.) Then you insert a new ring for the next month. I was attracted to this form of birth control, because I am very forgetful and kinda lazy. You only have to remember about changing the ring once a month. I also use a menstrual cup for my period, so another plastic gadget for my vagina was appealing. :D

    The first month I was using NuvaRing, I bled the whole time. A lot of women "spot" when switching to birth control for the first time, but this did not describe my experience. I was losing about 10ml of blood every day, so I had to use a menstrual cup every day, and I couldn't get away with a pantiliner. You're supposed to insert the ring on the first day of your period, so at first I just thought I was having a very long period. Then I asked some helpful folks over on the livejournal community Vagina_Pagina about it, and figured out it was breakthrough bleeding. Thankfully I decided to give the ring another month before I switched to something else. (Losing that much blood can't be healthy.) I had my normal period during the ring free week, and then stopped bleeding by the time I put in a new ring.

    Now I'm into my second month using the ring, and things couldn't be better. Sometimes I forget that I'm on birth control at all. The ring is very comfortable, and I don't feel it while it's inside. For insertion the company recommends you fold it like this, by pinching the ring between two fingers:

    But that fold is rather problematic. It's hard to actually insert because the material is so flexible and bendy. Once you get it in it's liable to slide down, and it's hard to push the ring farther into the vagina because it gives and it's very substantive. This is hard to describe, but basically I recommend a different fold. This is a screenshot from lacigreen's youtube video on the NuvaRing:

    To do this fold, you twist the ring into a figure eight shape and then fold it in half. Then you keep it folded during insertion until you're high enough up in the vagina. When you let it go it springs open nicely, and it's up high enough. (You can also watch lacigreen's video for a good demonstration.) At this point it's also important for me to make sure the ring is hooked around my cervix. Otherwise it slips down and fall out. I just sort of tilt the ring back and forth until I can give it a little tug and it stays. The exact position of the ring really isn't important though; it works as long as it's touching the vaginal walls. Removing the ring is super easy; you just hook a finger around the ring and pull it out. If you've ever used an Instead Softcup, insertion and removal is nearly the same process. :)

    If you're not comfortable inserting things into your vagina manually, I've heard about another trick using a tampon applicator. Just take the tampon out of the applicator, and slide the ring inside instead, and use it as normal. And as with internal menstrual products, you need to remember to relax the vaginal muscles to insert the ring. But honestly, it's worth your time to get to know your body, and learn to insert it manually. It's easy and painless. :)

    So far I haven't observed any of the negative side effects associated with the NuvaRing, so I'm hopeful that I can use this birth control method for awhile. With insurance it costs me about $20, and there's a coupon on the NuvaRing website to get $15 off. Next time I am really going to remember to print it off, because that makes it only $5 for me. Click here to go to the section of website where you can find the coupon. Without insurance, it's expensive--around $70, and there wont be a generic brand for awhile because it's probably patented.

    I have been able to use the ring along with instead softcups and silicone cups like my lunette and divacup. However, I do have to remove the ring before inserting a cup. If I didn't there's a chance the ring would end up inside a cup, and since the ring needs to remain in contact with the vaginal walls to work, that could be bad. So I generally insert the cup, and then insert the ring second, by sliding it next to the cup. The ring can be out for three hours in total, so it's fine to take it out everytime you change your menstrual cup or tampon. Otherwise there's a chance it could fall in the toilet. Yuck!

    My boyfriend said he couldn't feel the ring during intercourse, although it may be different for others. And honestly there was a ring and an instead softcup in there, so I doubt he could differentiate between all the plastic. If you need to, you can take the ring out while you're having sex, but it's not supposed to be out for longer than three hours. The ring beats condoms as far as comfort goes by a long shot though. Also no babies at this point, because I had my period as scheduled, so it's working. :) I like the nuvaring a lot, because I don't have to think about it very often. Using a daily birth control pill would be tiresome, especially since I'm in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend, and I don't even have sex all the time.

    So let's recap. The things I like about the nuvaing are:
    • It only has to be changed once to twice a month.
    • It provides 99.9% effective protection against pregnancy.
    • It's comfortable :)
    • It allows for spontaneous sex, unlike condoms and other barrier methods. (Major bonus!)
    Here are a few things that may be disadvantages if you weren't me, but honestly, except for possible side effects, they are weighed out by the advantages.
    • It doesn't protect against the clap, herpderp, or other STIs.
    • There's somewhat of a learning curve to inserting it correctly, and it can fall out if you don't.
    • You have to be comfortable touching your body.
    • Some guys can feel it during sex.
    • Side risks associated with other birth control (stroke, blood clots, cardiovascular side effects, etc. are more likely if you have health problems already.)
    Now for me, there wasn't very much of a learning curve, because I use internal menstrual products with out applicators and I'm very comfortable with my vagina. It's not a strange gooey, dark hole, it's just another part of my body to me. :) My boyfriend doesn't feel it during sex, and we're in a long term relationship, so STIs aren't an issue for me. I also don't have any health conditions that make this form of birth control risky to use. So I'm A-OK, but I'm just saying it may not be A-OK for you. No form of birth control is perfect for everyone; I just got lucky it was the first kind I tried. Overall, I really like using this birth control; it's easy to remember with phone or computer alerts. The ring also comes with stickers you can put on your calendar if you're the old fashioned type.

    Whenever I hear "NuvaRing" I still think of the obnoxious commercial they first launched with the women synchronized swimming in yellow bathing suits. However annoying that commercial is, it's great advertising for birth control that you only have to think about once or twice a month. I'm just not a "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, every day," swimcap, kinda girl. I'm really more the type of girl that struts around wearing an afro hairstyle and ripping off parts of my swimsuits. ;) But in all seriousness, the NuvaRing is great modern birth control that works for me.

    Please leave a comment about your NuvaRing experiences or with any questions you have. For more information about using the NuvaRing please see the official website or the wikiHow article I wrote, which is the condensed version of the website's information, all on one page. Also I thought this was funny. :)