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.