I made the switch to Moon Cups about 8 years ago, because all of a sudden, tampons gave me intense pain. It was out of the blue (err, red I guess?) and there wasn’t a physical “reason” for it, other than my body just suddenly said NO.
I tried for 3 months, and it didn’t matter how heavy my period was, every time I tried to insert a tampon, my body revolted and rejected it. I had already been using organic brands with minimal environmental impact (did you know that tampons and pads will contribute to over 62,000 pounds of waste per woman throughout the course of her life?) but my body made it clear that she simply wouldn't tolerate them anymore and so I had to find another option.
Luckily, at this time, Diva Cups had already come out, so I bought one. I was still pretty disconnected from my body back then and I remember the first time I used it I had the distinct revelation "oh wow, I'm actually touching my blood, how do I NEVER touch my own blood???"
I had used tampons since I was 13, and while there was the monthly use of "feminine products" and the occasional clean up, I had never had any conscious interaction with my blood.
Truthfully, I had only recently realized the impact of my cycle on my life and despite the level of awareness that was just being planted in terms of my relationship with myself as a woman, I didn't love the cup because it magically led me to love my womb or go gang busters over my blood (that took another good couple of years) ... I loved the cup just because it meant I didn't have to use tampons anymore.
I loved that I didn't have to run out to buy (aka waste my money on) "feminine products" and I loved that I didn't have to deal with the pain or discomfort they were causing. It felt empowering to not only be acknowledging and interacting with my blood, but to also no longer feel like I had to rely on products that inherently (and ironically) disempower and disconnect women from their bodies.
OKAY ... BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BLOOD?
Yes, you'll get blood on your hands. Yes, it might be messy at first. But I'm pretty sure that once you give it a legitimate try, you'll never look back ... and, on an additional, loving but I feel necessary note before I continue, if you love tampons, or you're not ready to make the switch, make sure they are from an organic company (please feel empowered to do what's right for you!) but if you're wondering why you should switch or what the benefits are, here's the rundown.
MAKING THE SWITCH
When you transition to the cup, know that the internal adjustment of the cup takes some experimenting as your body, vaginal canal and blood flow are unique, and it will take some trial and error to discover what feels and works the best for you. Sometimes you'll bleed through, or bleed around the edges of the cup until you find the right size and internal placement - so it's good to wear an organic cotton (or washable!) pad or period panties like THINX (my favorite!) to avoid bleeding through.
In addition to saving a ton of money (yay $!) and eliminating environmental pollution from feminine hygiene products (yay, Earth!), you'll develop a closer relationship with yourself as a woman through your body and your blood.
Instead of just inserting a tampon and going absently about your day, you are able to see how much blood there is, the quality of the color and consistency of your blood (which can be helpful in learning more about your cycle and any deficiencies or imbalances) and develop a deeper understanding and sense of reverence for what your body is going through at that time.
But what most women love about moon cups, regardless of what they think of their blood, is the noticeable reduction of PMS symptoms, cramps, pain and the length and intensity of blood flow.
There's also the added bonuses of a one time investment (they last for years with proper care) and you can put the money that you'd usually spend monthly towards treating yourself with self care instead (yes please!)
CUP VS TAMPON VS FREE BLEED
Your vagina is the most absorbent part of your body and blood flow during menstruation from the release of the uterine lining is FULL OF NUTRIENTS, so allowing those nutrients to penetrate the vaginal walls is important (and if you have any yeast, bacterial vaginosis or pH imbalance, the blood nutrients can help you heal).
These nutrients nourish your vaginal canal which then nourish the nerves and tissues in your pelvic bowl (the blood is so nutrient rich its actually the preferred blood of choice used in Stem Cell Research) and more nutrients to the nerves also means increased vaginal sensation (and who doesn't want that?)!
While Moon Cups are a fantastic alternative (which is why I'm telling you about them!) and they are a really great way to transition from tampons and to reacquaint you with your blood, they do also restrict the blood from naturally nourishing the vaginal canal.
While it's not always realistic, "free bleeding" is definitely the best option to nourish the nerves and tissues, which is why I cannot stress the benefits of THINX or washable pads enough. This is an ideal way to allow your blood to naturally release without a mess (even if it's just while you sleep) and to let your reproductive area come into a truly natural state of balance.
But, if you're not ready to go full on Bloody Mary, let's get back to the benefits of CUPS over TAMPONS!
As Dr. Felice Gersh explains, “Tampons are absorbent structures – versus a cup, which is a collective device. Removing and inserting tampons too frequently, especially if there is not enough moisture in the vagina, pulls moisture out. Tampons don’t cause vaginal dryness, but may contribute to dryness and irritation if there is not enough moisture present." This dryness and irritation can create infections or affect lubrication (making sex more unpleasant or uncomfortable) and can also affect your reproductive health.
Additionally, there is NO REGULATION on the "feminine products" industry and so in addition to tampons cutting off the blood rich nutrients, the cotton used is almost exclusively genetically modified and the "cotton" (or rayon, made from wood chips) contains harmful KNOWN cancer causing chemicals like deodorizers and bleaching agents to keep them nice and white before you stain them nice and red.
Over time, whether you choose the cup or free bleeding, without your vagina having to react to being “plugged up” with irritants, your body will develop a more natural rhythm, which will lead your body to a better bleed time.
Since using my Moon Cup (and more recently using THINX), the length and intensity of my period has steadily continued to decrease (to the point now, where I hardly even need a cup)!
FINDING THE RIGHT CUP FOR YOU
The things you’ll want to keep in mind when selecting your cup are the size (small or large, whether you have had kids or not, these things factor into how the cup will fit you), what density of silicone will feel comfortable for you (some, like the Diva Cup are thicker and bigger than others), the size of your cervix and shape of your internal vaginal canal (ex: if you know you have a high cervix, the Diva Cup could work well for you, but if your cervix is more medium sized or shallower like mine, it could be uncomfortable) and how long the little piece of plastic is at the end of the cup (the longer the better, it helps pull it out with more ease, especially if it happens to get the suction effect when you begin to bleed less).
If you don’t know anything about your cervix or the nooks and crannies of your internal situation yet - that’s okay - use this as an opportunity to gain awareness! Do some research online first (there are a lot of product comparisons out there!) and stay open minded as you get to know your body and what she prefers.
Okay but ... how do you do it??
Pinch, fold, insert, let go (it's in!) pull to remove (it's out!) and voila!
(The instructions on some boxes say to stand and put one leg up, but I prefer not to have to get up and drip blood to put my foot up on the toilet seat, so I insert mine while sitting down, thank you very much)!
It’ll take some practice to get to know what works for you, but then it’s easy breezy, so stick with it through the learning curve!
As with any feminine hygiene, cleanliness is of upmost importance. Wash your hands before inserting or emptying your cup, and follow instructions that come with your cup for cleaning.
When I use mine, I only rinse it out once a day (as if I’m on the go, it’s often easier and more sanitary to just dump the blood in the toilet and re-insert it) without having try to worry about dropping it, maneuvering out of the stall or getting to the sink when I'm in a public restroom.
Because of the magic of menstrual blood (which deserves another article all on its own) I prefer not to “throw it out” - so if I’m at home, I have a blood designated mason jar that I will pour my moon blood into and keep in a special spot in the fridge throughout the course of my bleed.
When I’m finished, I use the blood in ceremonies, dilute it with water to feed my plants or return it as an offering to the Earth.
HAVE YOU MADE THE SWITCH? OR WANT TO BUT STILL NOT SURE?
Let us know in the comments what your experience has been since switching, or likewise if you are interested but still have questions or reservations, reach out in the comments!
I’m not paid to mention or endorse any of these brands, this is my experience and what has or hasn't worked for me. I hope it’s helpful for you in your transition into the magical world of Moon Cups and reconnecting with your blood!
Many Happy Moons to You,