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Guys! You might not want to read any further… Ladies! Listen up!
Are you still using archaic menstrual product solutions? Are you spending a small fortune on pads and tampons every month? Are you constantly worried about bleeding through during that time of the month and having an embarrassing accident? (Guys! I did warn you! 🙄 ) Well, it truly doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, it stopped being that way for me over 10 years ago.
I came into womanhood when I was 15 years old. I am lucky to have an amazing mother who is open and loving and the day I told her I had started bleeding she gave me a red rose, a card and a hug. She made it a special event… then she gave me a box of pads and told me how to use them.
Despite my mom trying to make it as pleasant an experience as possible, I hated having my period from the very beginning. I mean really hated it! I found the options that were available to me at the time – tampons and pads – smelly, a nuisance, the pads uncomfortable (this was before Always Ultra came out and it would feel like I was straddling a log!) and sometimes even downright painful (when removing tampons it would feel like I was ripping out my uterine wall with it!)
I would often bleed through (I have had more than a few embarrassing experiences in my day) and itchy, inflamed rashes were a dreaded given for those few days of the month. (Sorry if that’s TMI – but I am sure you ladies know exactly what I am talking about!)
It wasn’t until my late twenties that I discovered something that would completely transform my moon cycle experience for me. It was summer and I was at an outdoor festival in Kingston-Upon-Thames, near London England where I was living at the time, when I came across a small booth. There stood a woman who was talking to people and selling menstrual cups to anyone who wanted to listen. Menstrual cups??? I had honestly never heard of such a thing and was intrigued enough to listen to what she had to say. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! How had I never come across this before? Was it some cool new invention?
Believe it or not, menstrual cups have been around since the 1930’s. (But then so have tampons). I was flabbergasted! How come no one had ever told me about these things before? I went home to do some research and what I found was no less than enraging! The Tampon and Hygienic Pad business is a heavily marketed $718 Million industry! It is an industry that has you committed to buying their products EVERY month… you simply have no choice – they are necessities! Or that is what they would have you believe. They don’t want you to know there is an alternative. Can you imagine if the menstrual cup became mainstream? Educating women that they would need to buy an average of 4 – 8 cups throughout their entire lifetime would render this dinosaur of an industry obsolete over night! However, if you were in the women’s sanitary business, would you rather sell women something every month? Or only once every 10 years? Think about it!
Luckily, today more and more women are being exposed to this FANTASTIC product and the Menstrual Cup movement is growing every day!
So, what is a menstrual cup? Well, it is a flexible medical grade silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina. It collects the blood rather than absorbing it and is emptied, rinsed and reinserted every 12 hours or so. The best ones on the market are hypoallergenic, free from plastic, PVC, acrylic, acrylate, BPA, phthalate, elastomer, polyethylene, and are free of colors and dyes. They create a light seal around the vaginal wall, preventing leaks, and typically hold up to 1 ounce of liquid which is about 5 times more than a tampon. In fact, the average woman only bleeds a total of 1 – 2 ounces of blood per cycle. Menstrual cups are safe when used as directed and no health risks related to their use have been found.
They generally come in 2 sizes:
Have you ever sat there on the toilet realizing that you were out of sanitary products? With a cup you will never have to worry about that again. No more rummaging around under your sink for that last evasive pad or tampon that you’re hoping you missed from last months supply. No more last minute monthly trips to the drug store with scrunched up toilet paper up your hoohaa! No more having to ask someone else if they have a tampon as you forgot yours at home.
The average woman has her cycle for about 38 years. She typically buys one pack of tampons and one pack of hygienic pads per month.
With an average cost of $5 per pack, that amounts to $10 per month or $120 a year. That translates into $4,560 in her lifetime. Now, if she is a bit more health conscious and prefers organic products, the average cost of a pack is $6. So $12 a month for both packs which in turn equals $144 a year or $5,472 in her lifetime.
The average cup costs $35 and can last anywhere from 5 – 10 years. 4 – 8 cups will be all she needs her entire life. Equaling a cost of $175 – $350 in her lifetime. You do the math… I don’t know about you, but I would rather spend that money on something else!
Tampons and pads are a toxic hazard! The vaginal walls are the most absorbent part of the human body and tampons and pads are made from plastics and rayon which is made from wood pulp and cotton, the latter being a heavy pesticide crop. Consider this: 25% of the pesticides used in farming practices today are used on cotton. Five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton in the US are known carcinogens (cyanide, dicofol, naled, propargite and trifluralin). All nine, however, are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Category I and II – the highest toxic classifications of all! (1) Not to mention that almost all tampons are bleached using chlorine, which results in the production of dioxin. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer. (2) Furthermore, many brands also use perfumes and other allergens. Menstrual pads aren’t any less innocent either, only slightly less invasive.
According to consumer research, 60 percent of women experience leakage every month when using tampons and pads! With the menstrual cup those days will be a thing of the past! Mind you, I did have a leak the second month I used it. It was because I hadn’t inserted it properly which can happen during the first few cycles while you get used to it. I therefore recommend that you still use a pad during those first couple of cycles just until you feel comfortable inserting it properly.
According to the book Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation, the average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of “pads, plugs, and applicators” in her lifetime. Multiply that by 3.5 billion women. That is insane! In the U.S. alone we dump 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons every year.
But it’s not only the aftermath of used tampons and pads that have an environmental impact. The manufacturing resources are intensive as the farming of cotton requires large amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizer. And while the cotton may take about six months to break down, the plastic liners used in pads last indefinitely, according to Liz Sutton of the Women’s Environmental Network (3). The real problem, however, are the plastic applicators. In 2009, The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup project collected 20,000 tampon applicators (4). Applicators can take 25 years to break down in the ocean and once they are broken down, they are often ingested by marine life causing digestion blockage and death. (5)
Now with a cup, however, considering that the average woman bleeds for about 38 years out of her life, and the fact that she would need to buy a cup approximately every 5 – 10 years she would produce only 4 – 8 cups of waste in her lifetime. Furthermore, when silicone breaks down, it breaks down into water, carbon dioxide, and minerals already found in the earth’s crust.
Depending on how heavy you bleed, tampons can give you up to hours 8 hours between changes… a cup can give you up to 12 hours! A normal tampon holds between 0.2 and 0.3 ounces (6-9 grams) of liquid. Menstrual cups hold almost five times that amount, capable of up to one ounce (about 28 grams). This can make life much easier for ladies with a heavier flow.
Tampons can leave behind fibers in your vagina that can cause bladder and vaginal infections, and also Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a severe disease that involves fever, shock, and problems with the function of several body organs. In some cases it may even lead to death. Many cases of TSS occurred after tampons were left in the person using them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped tracking toxic shock cases more than 15 years ago, but in California, eight people died from the syndrome in 2002, according to the California Department of Health Services. There were four deaths in each of the previous three years. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found that cases in one region of Minnesota more than tripled from 2000 to 2003. (6)
“Diaper” rashes are common for women who use pads. The lack of air flow, the trapped humidity and the plastics, chemicals and bleaches used for making sanitary pads often result in a hot, itchy, uncomfortable mess. With a cup, that will be a thing of the past!
Once again, because you can keep your cup in without leaking for up to 12 hours, you won’t have to get up several times in the night to change or to check that you haven’t leaked through to the sheets. Also, no more having to sleep on a towel. Sweet dreams!
Of course you can change your cup in the public restroom if you want to, but because you can keep it in for up to 12 hours there are much less chances that you will have to. If you do find yourself in such a situation though, just empty the contents in the toilet, wipe it off with some paper and reinsert it. Alternatively, I have heard of some women who like to have 2 cups so that they can just insert a clean one and rinse the used one when they get home or when no one is looking!
Inserting a menstrual cup takes a couple of cycles getting used to. But once you have the sleight of hand and you have inserted it correctly, you won’t feel it at all. Sometimes, you might even blissfully forget that it is that time of the month… but make sure you don’t forget so much that you forget to take it out altogether! 😉
Yoga, swimming, hiking, horseback riding, beach activities, dancing, ball games or any other type of sport, especially extreme sports, are always more difficult during your moon cycle. It can be downright annoying. The general uncomfortableness of either wearing a pad or a tampon or just having to worry about possibly leaking all over the place can take all the fun out of whatever it is that you are doing. It can stop you from being in the moment and being fully present to your activity and it can even mess with your performance! With the menstrual cup you can literally proceed as if you were not on your cycle and maybe even win the game!
With all of these above mentioned benefits, all I can say is that my moon cycle has been forever transformed! FREEDOM is the word that comes to my mind! The freedom to continue life as if nothing was. The freedom from worrying about possible accidents and leakages or running out of tampons. The freedom from distraction while I am engaged in other activities. The freedom from discomfort and toxins entering my bloodstream. The freedom from feeling guilty about polluting the Earth. Because of this new found freedom and comfort during my cycle I have been free to focus on the more spiritual aspect of the sacredness of my womanhood and my cycle. For example, I have found that my creativity goes to a whole new level during those few days of the month! I encourage you to discover yourself even more during this magical time.
There are many brands out there and they all seem to work pretty well. I personally prefer the DivaCup, not only because it seemed to be the most popular brand out there 10 years ago but also because it comes with a small cloth drawstring bag for keeping in between cycles. The company has been around since 2001 and the DivaCup is FDA approved and is the only ISO certified cup on the market. Although DivaCup is one of those brands that recommends you switch it out once a year they also say:
“Silicone is very durable, but we recommend that you inspect your cup regularly for signs of deterioration such as a sticky or powdery film, severe discoloration or odor, etc. If you detect any of these signs or if you experience irritation we recommend you replace your DivaCup with a new one. Depending on the factors unique to each woman, like vaginal pH, how well and often the cup is cleaned, what cleansing agents are used, etc., the lifespan may vary. Since The DivaCup is a personal hygienic product, a general guideline is to replace it once a year, but ultimately, it is up to the consumer to decide when it is necessary to replace the cup.” – divacup.com
Personally, I have only had 1 cup for the last 10 years and although it may be a bit discolored, I can see no deterioration what-so-ever.
In closing, the DivaCup transformed my period experience forever and it will for you too! It may take you a few cycles to get used to inserting it, but once you have, you will be wishing you had started a lot sooner! Just take the plunge… and think about it… if you don’t like it, you can always go back to those chemical, smelly, uncomfortable, Earth polluting things! But you’ll never know if you don’t try it! You’ve got nothing to lose! So just do it!
I have been asked about other brands as well. There are so many menstrual cups on the market and most of then are really great products. The reason I recommend the Diva Cup is because it is the brand that I use and I am very happy with it. It’s as simple as that. A few of my friends use it too and they love it. However, you might want to to look into other brands to compare them.
I found a fantastic website that does just that! It has most of the top brands on there and you will be able to compare everything from sizes to prices. Check it out!
Finally, just for a little encouragement… here are a couple of testimonies by some of my girlfriends whom I turned onto using the cup!
“The menstrual cup transformed my whole experience with my monthly cycle. Not only is it cleaner and safer for me and the environment, which are big draw cards when using personal care products, it is so convenient. From the first time I learnt about it to then receiving one as a present from a dear friend 7 years ago, I’ve never gone back to previous products. Safe to say, I never will!”
“I wanted to share a little about my experience with the wonderful, the amazing, Diva Cup!
Let me give you a little bit of my background in the world of menstruating. Since I started my period, I’ve only been encouraged to use the infamous pads and tampons. I didn’t endure the experience of pads for very long before I felt like I made a major upgrade when I started to use tampons of various kinds. (I had no idea what I was getting into) I have always been a bit earth conscious so I would often lean towards biodegradable applicators and could only imagine the impact the plastic applicators were having on our dear sweet planet.
After enduring years and years of tampons, enter the Diva Cup. I have a dear friend who took the time to talk with me briefly about the Diva Cup. She’s used it for years and encouraged me to look into using one to replace the tampons. I ordered one that day and when it came in the mail, I was pretty curious how this was going to work out. At first, I wasn’t sure if I got the right size. There are two sizes to choose from. I chose the first size, since I’m right on the cusp, I’m thirty-one- never had children and I feel pretty good about my kegal strength. However, I believe, if you are on the cusp like me, go with the size 2, it will ensure there is NO leaking at all. In the beginning for me, I had a few leaks, it wasn’t much different than the leaks that my tampons would have (their commercials lie about the leaks!) Diva cup on the other hand, is telling you the honest-to-God’s truth about their no leaking feature. The material it’s made out of is quite comfortable and what I’ve realized after my fourth cycle using the Diva Cup, it just takes a little time to adjust to using it. The same was true for my tampon experience, I had to adjust to getting used to them. So in other words, if you’re reading this and considering that the Diva Cup might not be right for you, remember to give it at least three to four cycles, wear the liners and see if your experiences improve over a very short amount of time (in the whole scheme of things- the money you will save over the course of your entire menstruating life will amaze you, if you choose to stick with the Diva Cup). Bye bye cramps, hello happiness. My periods have been much less intense (first day can be the worst) and I can’t tell you how good I feel knowing that I’m no longer polluting the earth with those horrible chemically-infused tampons or wretched applicators. I’m telling all my friends and female acquaintances about this wonderful product that literally has improved the quality of my life. An important thing to note is I’m very careful to boil my Diva Cup for twenty minutes after every cycle to ensure it’s sterile and ready for the next month. I can’t imagine life without the Diva Cup. I hope my testimony has helped you decide to try it out and please be sure to tell your girlfriends about it too! Thanks for your time, for spreading the word about this amazing product and for looking out for our planet : ) Sincerely”
About the Author: Tinna Hawkins is a 9th generation Wise Woman an avid health nut! For the last 13 years, she has been helping people with their health as a Wellness Consultant. She is a strong proponent of traditional and ancestral nutrition, medicinal herbs, yoga, meditation, toxin-free personal and home care, an active lifestyle, supplementation and a positive outlook on life! Together with her husband, Dr Budweiser, they own and operate Weiser Living. www.weiserliving.com
Tinna 'LadyHawk' Hawkins is a 9th generation Wise Woman and an avid health nut! For the past one and a half decades she has been helping people with their health as a Wellness Consultant. She is a strong proponent of traditional and ancestral nutrition, cooking from scratch, herbal medicine and essential oils, yoga, meditation, toxin-free personal and home care products, an active lifestyle, supplementation and a positive outlook on life! Together with her husband, Dr. Budweiser, they own and operate Weiser Living.
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