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Reusable menstrual cups and pads

I'm only going to warn you once, if you don't want to read about menstruation, stop reading now!

All women will be aware of the amount of waste generated by most commercial products used at that "time of the month".  Whether you use tampons or pads, there is the product itself and all that packaging, all going in the bin or down the toilet. Think how much that builds up over the years.....

It turns out that there weren't any such disposable products until an excess of bandages following WWI led clever marketers to come up with disposable "feminine hygiene" "sanitary" products for women to use.  As explained in the first youtube video below, companies have accentuated the feelings of fear and taboo around menstruation in order to make their disposable products seem like the solution to an invented problem (if you're reading this in an email you'll have to follow the link to the blog post).

Kotex
cheap enough to throw away!  (ad from ad access)
I don't like using anything disposable and I used to feel guilty about all that waste, until I found another option.  I have been using a reusable menstrual cup for about 8 years now.  I just replaced my original brown rubber moon cup with a transparent silicon Lunette cup.  My husband saw the new one and commented "wow, they must really change colour when you use them!" (they don't change colour!).  I have found both cups to be similar and I can't recommend one over the other, apart from the colour of course.

Anyway, I thought seeing as I got a new one, and as this month I'm discussing the permaculture principle "produce no waste", it was a good time to remind you all that reusable products are out there.  Braver bloggers than myself have written detailed posts about the "ins and outs" of reusable cups (for example Emma from Craving Fresh and Leanne from Hazeltree Farm), I kept it short in my last post on the subject.  The other day I had a question from a reader about using menstrual cups, so if you do have any complicated questions that you don't want to ask on the blog, feel free to email me, I'm happy to help.  That saves me having to explain it all in a post :)


I also bought a few more cloth pads, as the old ones are getting a little ratty.  This is probably something I should just make from scraps of material, but I am too lazy to figure out how to insert domes (I know, I should learn!), so I just buy them every few years instead!  I like to use a panty liner weight pad with the cups, I haven't tried the heavier weight pads though.

Apart from reducing waste, there are lots of other reasons to use a reusable cup and/or cloth pads instead of disposable products:
  • Its cheaper - a cup costs $50-60 once every 5-7 years, how much do you spend on disposables each month?  The pads are only $10-20 each and also last for years.  Just think how much you can save.
  • Its more convenient - you can never "run out" of a reusable product
  • They are safer - no harmful chemicals, bleaches, fragrances, GMO cotton etc
  • No need to empty/change as frequently
  • More comfortable once you get used to it
I usually like to give a balance of pros and cons, but I can't think of any cons right now.  I don't know why you wouldn't use a menstrual cup.  If you can think of a reason, please tell me!  See also the second youtube video, a rap battle of menstrual cups vs tampons.


When I bought my new cup and pads I also signed up for the affiliate program with Rad Pads.  If you want to order a cup or some pads, follow this link and I get a small percentage for referring you.

If you have any experiences to share, or questions about reusable menstrual, please leave a comment. I think its time we talked openly about menstrual products and stopped letting the marketers win by scaring us into using wasteful disposables.



Giggle for the day: 15 euphamisms for menstruation





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Comments

  1. I still haven't worked up the nerve to try my Moon Cup again but it looks exactly like your new Lunette. However the R-Pads seem a bit more appealing (and easy) for a beginner like me and yes, make-able! PS- I really hope this comment doesn't turn up in someone's Lovely Greens search results! lol

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  2. Liz, you're not going to believe what the security words were for posting my last comment. I'll direct message it to you on FB ;)

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  3. I use and love. For me the best part about the cup is no leaks ever! Well maybe the first cycle I used it on but have been going for about four years and absolutely love it.

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  4. I tried the cup several times. I had trouble getting it seated correctly so that it wouldn't leak, and when it did seat I'd have trouble removing it without tipping it and making a mess.
    I think it's a great product for those who can use it. I only regret that I haven't figured out how to. And I gave up trying for now. But everyone else I know of who uses them is very happy with them.

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    1. First you might want to remove the cup while sitting on the toilet. Next if you are that heavy, you need may need to empty it more frequently. At home I would rinse in my bathroom sink, at a public bathroom just dump and wipe with some TP and reinsert. It is a bit messy but like so many things, once you are used to it, it really isn't a big deal. I would add a thin pantiliner, just in case.

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  5. Or try Instead soft cups, available at most pharmacies, occasionally there are even coupons. While technically disposably, they are soft plastic so washable. One large box lasted me years and I still have some left. Cheap enough to keep an unwrapped spare in your car kit, emergency kit, purse or give to a friend. I have used them over 20 years and never found a downside. Like any menstrual cup, if not in place correctly it will leak, but you learn as you go. Use a pantiliner (disposeable or washable) if heavy or you need extra security.

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  6. I have a diva cup and LOVE it!! Once I figured out how to use it correctly it is much more comfortable and so much cheaper in the long run. The most common thing people tell me is that they think its gross because you have to wash it and touch it, which I find ridiculous. But to each their own I suppose =P

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  7. I am a femmecup fan so seeing your post linked up at the Creative HomeAcre Hop was great! The more people that spread the word about this the better. Thanks for joining us and we hope you'll come and party creatively again on Sunday at http://mumtopia.blogspot.com/2013/06/23rdJunebloghop.html
    If you would like to write a guest post for Mumtopia, please let me know - I'm sure my readers would benefit from what you have to say.

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  8. I love my Diva cup. As for the pads- do they come in "thong" panty styles?

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    1. no thong styles available from Rad Pads sorry, they said its too difficult to make something in the right shape, I would think they would ruin your panty line anyway :)

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  9. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences, the more we talk about what works for us, the more other women might be inspired to try something different :)

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  10. Hi Liz. First let me say I've really been enjoying reading your blog! Now onto using a menstrual cup. I used to use softcups, which work great. But they are still disposable (and expensive!) so I decided to try the Meluna cup. I thought about reusing the softcups but they can't be sterilized so I gave that up. The first few times I used the Meluna I was nervous about how to fold it and insert it and getting it to "pop" open after inserting it. I think my nerves and worries caused my issues in the beginning. I find that now I am more relaxed so it goes more smoothly and I don't worry if it opens right away since it always does eventually on its own.

    The only con for me is that the 1st couple of days I have very heavy bleeding. This means frequent emptying which is fine when I'm home but out it's no good. The sinks are never near the toilet so after emptying I can't rinse it out. I know people say to wipe it out with tp but I worry about bits getting stuck in the cup. I thought about bringing a water bottle and rinsing with that but there really isn't room to maneuver over the toilet! So my compromise is I use softcups on heavy days when out in public. Those I can remove and wrap in tissue to toss and put in a fresh one with no worries.

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  11. My eldest child is 13, which means my moon cup is 12 years old and my oldest pads are also 12 years old! Before having children I used sea sponges, which are another good way to manage periods naturally. The only time I've used disposables in the last 12 years was post partum as I couldn't be bothered using cloth with all that blood ( but I know many women who do ) . My cup of course is commercial, but my pads have ALL been made by work at home mums with micro businesses as I prefer to support these women, some have even been friends.

    The best part is my eldest child is now a woman, so she has also embraced cloth. It was super easy for her as she has grown up watching me manage my periods using cloth pads, soaking, washing, and seeing them dry. She thinks the patterns are beautiful, and loves the ones I bought her.

    I have a whole range of styles from liners through to long soft night time. I tend to use the cup at night mainly and the pads often on their own unless we're out of the home all day. My female partner will use cloth pads...but won't move past tampons unfortunately...so we shell out for the costly organic ones...

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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