Menstrual Cup for Beginners: Transitioning into a Zero Waste Period

Have you ever though about starting to use the menstrual cup but have always been too scared to try? I have been in the same place before.

I’ve grown up in a society where menstruations were always considered a bit of a taboo. Instead, I truly think that they are the most natural thing in the world and something women should never feel weird about or ashamed of. Instead, we should be very proud of the incredible strength we use to face pains and discomfort every month!

For me the cycle is really the pure essence of being women and the cup has helped me embrace this even more, reduce discomfort and do something really good for the environment.

Living in a era where plastic is surrounding so many aspects of our life, we grow up thinking that it's normal to use a pack or two of disposable menstrual pads and tampons every month. Let's do the math: if you are using an average of 10 disposable tampons a month, that would mean you are sending to the landfill a staggering number of 120 tampons every year. That is a minimum of 1800 tampons in your life as a menstruating woman. Now multiply it by the women using disposable menstrual products, and you get a really scary figure!

Soon after I have started using reusable menstrual pads such as these, I became interested in using the cup. As you can read in my menstrual pads review, pads are great but not so handy to use in every single situation. For example, you may be travelling or you may have all your pads in the washing machine. Or you simply want to wear a nice dress, go running or even swimming. This is when the cup can really be a game changer. I have been using Organicup for over a year now and have never looked back! It comes with a cute recycled paper box with instructions written on it, and a little pouch to hold the cup. That's it!

But let's admit it: having to deal with reusables during a cycle could sound a little daunting. So many women also feel weird or uncomfortable with the idea of using a cup. Fair enough. I felt exactly the same before giving it a try!

Before you rule out the possibility of using the menstrual cup, here is a little guide that can help you overcome your fears and help you transition into a zero waste period!

The top 6 Myths of Using a Menstrual Cup: how to Overcome your Fears

1. "It's Really Uncomfortable"

If the cup is making you feel uncomfortable, there could be 2 main reasons why.

1 - You have inserted incorrectly

It could be that you have inserted the cup too far up, causing discomfort to the upper area. If you have left it too far down, it may give you a weird feeling as if it's about to fall out. Or maybe it simply did not open fully and it's squashed in a awkward position.

All you need is a bit of patience and practice!

2 - The type you bought is not suitable for you

Generally, there are 2 different sizes out there. The "A" size is for women under 30 or who have not had birth yet. Size "B" is for women over 30 or who have had birth. Different cup brands also have different shapes. Some are thinner, some are wider, some others are longer (you get the point!). If you feel you have tried a particular brand and you feel it's just not working, try a brand with a very different shape, and it may be perfect for you.

Having said that, I firmly believe that all it takes is really patience and practice. Give it a go for at least 3 or 4 cycles before ruling it out or changing cup brand.

But how do you insert it correctly?

zero waste cup

STEP 1: push the centre of the cup with your index or thumb so that the sides will naturally "fold" close to each other

STEP 2: remove your thumb gently while pressing the sides to keep the cup folded
STEP 3: get in a "squat" position and gently insert the cup making sure to keep it folded
STEP 4: once it has been inserted correctly, release your fingers so it can naturally open. You know it's done when you hear a gentle "pop" or can feel that the cup is open and not folded anymore

2. "It's Gross"

Many women avoid buying the cup because they don't want to deal with having to look at their own "fluids", and, even worst, having to wash them off.

However, after starting using the cup, I have realized that the gross factor is actually so much lower. Here are the reasons:

1 - Instead of being absorbed into a pad, the blood is actually "held" inside the cup. This means no odors or scary encounters every time you are going to the bathroom.

2 - You will have to empty the cup no more than 2 or 3 times a day depending on which day of your cycle you are on. This means that you have to deal with a bit of unpleasant moments only a couple of times during the day!

3. "It Will Leak"

If you are afraid that the cup will leak, I have to be honest here. This is a possibility. Why? For the same reasons described in point number one.

1 - You either bought a wrong size, or you the type of cup is not the right one for you (e.g too large or too narrow).

2 - It's very likely that you have not fitted the cup in correctly.

During my first cycles I had started experiencing leaking, and I had to wear a pair of leak proof panties. I felt that the cup was about to slip off and wouldn't stay in place. It was so frustrating! However after a few months of wearing the cup, I have started understanding how to wear it and it has improved the problem dramatically. I still use leak proof panties throughout my cycle as I just feel more confident and don't need to worry in case leaking does happen. 

4. "It's Not Hygienic"

If you take good care of your cup, I think it's actually a much more hygienic option than a disposable pad. The cup will simply "hold" blood inside, while a pad or a tampon will absorb blood which will remain in contact with your body. However, it's super important that you pay extra attention to cleaning and maintaining your cup. This brings us to the next step.

5. "It's Hard to Clean"

Cleaning a menstrual cup could not be easier! Most of the cup brands out there will provide you with instruction on  how to maintain your cup overall cleanliness, particularly at the beginning and the end of a cycle.

The instructions normally explain to let your cup simmer in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes at the beginning and the end of every cycle, and to wash it well with warm water in between uses.

I usually boil the cup at the beginning and at the end of every day I am using it. This way, I am sure that any germs or bacteria formed in between uses will be eliminated. In between uses I wash it very well with warm/hot water (the hotter the better, just be careful not to burn yourself!). If you want, you can also use a very small amount of a mild intimate gel.

Make sure not to use any soap or harsh detergents or any soap with a fragrance on because it will be absorbed by the silicone and could cause skin irritation.

6. "You Cannot Change it in Public Restrooms"

Ok, this has never been easier! All you have to do is find a bathroom that also has a small sink. You should be able to find these in most restaurants, offices, trains, airplanes, airports etc. Again, just make sure that you wash your hands super well, don't put the cup on any surface but simply wash and rinse thoroughly as described before.

I hope this little guide will help you debunk some of the myths or misconceptions surrounding using the cup and you will give it a try. And remember: just a single cup can help reduce so much waste and make us live our cycle in a much more comfortable way!

Happy zero waste period!


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