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