When I wrote my last post about sustainable periods it was all new to me and some of the products I didn't even realise were available. I knew it was time for me to make a change and the strangest of the bunch was the menstrual cup, so naturally I ordered one. It arrived and sat pretty it's packaging while I waited, weirdly excited, for my period to arrive. So, what was it really like to use a menstrual cup for the first time? Have a read and find out!

Sustainable Periods

When it comes to periods, most of us opt for tampons or pads, after all they take up most of the room on the supermarket shelf and I don't ever remember being told there were alternatives. The sex ed class also never covered how traditional plastic applicators take up to 500 years to decompose and sanitary pads could trump that by a further 300 years. They are sticking around a lot longer than me, thats for sure. On average, a person who menstruates will get their period around 450 times. Time for some maths. Lets say you are using tampons, so you are changing every 4-6 hours (per Tampax's recommendation) which means around 4 tampons a day. That's gonna leave you with around 20 tampons every period. 450 periods, 20 tampons leads you with 9,000 tampons and their applicators in the bin since they can't be recycled due to sanitary reasons. Many people think changing their behaviour will have 0 effect on the environment and one persons actions don't make a difference. By changing one thing and opting for a menstrual cup you could save up to 9,000 tampons and applicators from kicking about in landfill for the next 500 years. Sounds like a pretty big difference to me.

There are a lot of ways to prevent this kind of waste, one of which is a menstrual cup. The question is, what is it really like to use one? None of us want to fork out £20 for something that will make having a period even worse than it already is! Luckily for you, I've already taken the leap and will hopefully give you some clarity!

My Experience

The Arrival

I kept telling myself to order a cup and kept forgetting/getting confused by all the options. One day my sister was buying herself some new makeup from Beauty Bay and asked if I wanted anything, was it the goodness of her heart? Was it the free delivery? Who knows. Anyway, I noticed that they were selling a BeYou Menstrual cup, description as follows:

"No leaks and no worries! BeYou’s Menstrual Cup is an alternative to other period products worn inside the vagina, collecting up to three tampons worth of blood flow rather than absorbing it. Made without hazardous chemicals, the cup can be worn for up to 12 hours, so you can save money and reduce waste. Cheaper, healthier and better for the environment."

After doing some digging and seeing some pretty good reviews, I figured what the hell! £15 and a few days later it arrived on my door step.

The First Attempt

When my period arrived, I was pretty excited to try it out! It came with a little pouch so you could have it discreetly in your bag if needed and a A3 help poster. Thinking I knew what I was doing without their help I attempted to (to put it bluntly) shove it in, unsurprising this didn't work out. I sat myself on the toilet and decided to actually read the poster which explained everything from how to insert, check it's in right and how to clean and care for my menstrual cup. Focusing mainly on insertion, it gave a few different ways to do so, which was nice you know incase it went as badly as the time before.

After a few goes and resorting to squatting on the bathroom floor, I was successful! After another read of how to make sure it was properly 'suctioned in', I checked it was to the best of my ability and went for a walk around my room. I was really surprised by how comfortable it was, I didn't feel like I even had anything on at all. I put a pad on anyway, just incase I had done it terribly wrong. Feeling happy with myself, I went about my day.

The Removal

I was promised that the cup would hold 3x as much flow as a tampon and could be worn for up to 12 hours but was a bit sceptical at first so checked it after 2. Again, the poster went through step by step how to remove it which was really helpful, but it was easy. There's a little tail kind of thing at the end of the cup (you can cut this if it's too long) which you pull on and it comes out! It was no where near full and I hadn't had any leaks, so as you can imagine I was pretty pleased. So now I'm sat on the toilet holding a cup of blood, so I maybe wouldn't recommend to those who well... don't like blood! I poured it down the toilet, rinsed it off in the sink in hot water and I was ready for reinsertion. BeYou also sell a menstrual cup wash but I'm not really sure how necessary it is as they provide a few other ways to clean it.

The rest of the week and cleaning

I got a lot better at using the menstrual cup after the first time and by the last day I didn't even think about it, never mind check the instructions. At first, I changed it regularly, afraid that it would leak but by the end few days of my period I was leaving it in for most of the 12 hours and stopped using pads. A leak free, a lot less pads/tampons later, (I did use some pads at first for extra man power just incase) my period was gone, hooray! All was that was left to do was give the cup a good deep clean before putting away until my next period. Again, the poster gave a few different ways to do this, including using their cleaning product I mentioned earlier. I opted for boiling it in a pan of hot water for 5 minutes then put it back in my cupboard until the faithful day arrived again. Up next, the review...

The review

As you can probably tell from the My Experience section (sorry for how graphic it was in places) I was pretty happy with my menstrual cup. After an initial struggle, I had no further problems with putting it in or leakage. Either this was beginners luck or they are just really easy to use but I'm thinking it's the later. I found that BeYou made it as simple as it possibly could be and went out of their way to give you as much information and advice as possible and I am sure that this is the case with a lot, if not all menstrual cup brands. They also advertise that the silicone used is perfect for people who haven't used one before because it's very soft and flexible, I can't compare to others as this is the first I have used but I can say that I found it was very comfortable.

BeYou Menstrual Cup

Another plus for me was that I personally don't like to use tampons towards the end of period as I feel my flow isn't really heavy enough and it's a little uncomfortable. I am happy to report I didn't find this with the menstrual cup, I suppose this is because cups aren't absorbent, so they don't leave you feeling 'dry' which by the way, is a lot better for vaginal health!

Of course, experiences with period products differ form person to person depending on what you feel happiest with. With menstrual cups, you do have to get very up close and personal down below which is always something to keep in mind if you're not as comfortable doing that, but knowing our bodies is one of the best ways to stay happy and healthy! I can honestly say I would recommend a menstrual cup to any one who menstruates. It was comfortable and easy. Plus, knowing I was helping out the planet with something as natural as a period is really quite fitting.

I hope this post helps you when it comes to deciding your next period related purchase and that I have persuaded you to join the menstrual cup crew (not the coolest crew ever). I'll put the link below to where I got mine from! However, if you don't think menstrual cups are for you but you want your period to have a lesser impact on the planet, there are a lot more options. I did a post not long ago on what these are, so if you fancy it check it out - link is also below!

As always, thanks for reading!

Antonia :)

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