Periods are a tricky business. On top of their monthly visits making you feel uncomfortable, moody, hungry, tired or simply in pain, they are also really damn expensive and wasteful. Whether you use tampons or pads (or a combination of both), the amount of waste that is produced every month, resulting not only from the product itself but also its packaging, isn't only potentially icky to dispose off but extremely bad for the environment. Apparently, the average woman uses up to 11 000 tampons during her lifetime, which all take centuries to degrade! With a box of tampons or pads costing between £2 and £5, the use of disposable feminine hygiene products amounts to a lot of money spent on periods during a lifetime, money that would definitely be more enjoyable to spend on a cup of coffee or a magazine.
Having used mainly tampons for several years now and being annoyed by the amount of money I spent on them each month and some uncomfortable aspects of using them during my periods, I started hearing of menstrual cups a couple of months ago and got curious. If you're studying at a University like I am, you might be lucky enough to find menstrual cups at either a reduced price or even for free (shout out to our awesome students' union at Sussex!). In my case, I managed to get one for free, as our students' union gives out a handful of moon cups alongside tampons and pads every week, but our students' union shop also sells them at a reduced price.
The fact that I got mine for free was great because I wasn't sure about whether or not I'd like it and I wanted to see how I'd get on with it, but now that I've been using it for almost two cycles, I'm in love! Menstrual cups have many benefits to them and I especially love how practical and (in the long run) cheap they are. Unlike with tampons, which you're supposed to (keyword "supposed", I wasn't always very vigilant with it) change approximately every 4 hours to avoid toxic shock syndrome, a rare but potentially very dangerous bacterial infection, you can wear a menstrual cup for up to 8 or 10 hours, even though I've even worn mine for 12 hours, especially at night. On top of that, menstrual cups don't "dry" you out down there (real talk here) and don't start feeling uncomfortable after a while.
Since you can use one single cup for years and years, the environmental benefits are obvious, as you don't have packaging or an actual product you need to dispose of every single time. Whilst you're using it, all you have to do is rinse it with some hot water and once your period is over, you can simply dry boil it in a pot of water for a couple of minutes (the cleaning process may vary depending on which cup you have but they all come with great instructions anyway).
The specific brand I have (Mooncup) allows you to adjust the length of the stem for optimal comfort, but I've also seen some other models around that come with a ring instead of a stem at the bottom, for example. I could go on and on about the amazing-ness of menstrual cups but it might be easier for me to stop here and leave you with a few links to watch some helpful YouTube videos on the topic if you're not convinced yet or just want to find out more about it - especially on techniques to insert/remove them properly etc. All I can say is that menstrual cups have revolutionised my period, making it a lot easier and comfortable - I actually forget that I'm on my period a lot of the time when I'm wearing mine because I barely every have to check on it!
1 - Bonny's video about menstrual cups was the first one I watched!
2 - Steffi talks about her own experiences in general - good and bad
3 - Sarah discusses different folding techniques to insert a menstrual cup
4 - ....and something to lol about: men are given menstrual cups and asked to guess what they are!