Let the Blood Run Free - a Menstrual Cup 101

Cheaper, simpler, healthier and better for the planet, the menstrual cup or moon cup is an excellent alternative to pads and tampons.  There will be blood, but you’ll be an expert in no time.

My primary motivation on switching to a menstrual cup was to reduce the amount of rubbish my period generated.  We were working hard to reduce our household waste; meanwhile, every month I was filling the bin with plastic wrappers and used pads and tampons, all of which can take centuries to degrade.    

An added bonus is the simplicity.  Using a cup the first few times felt a little primal and messy, but once I got the hang of it, it made managing my period a whole lot easier.  I’ve happily used it at music festivals, on holidays and out and about without incident. On my heaviest days, I usually empty the cup a few times, but it’s large enough to manage my overnight flow.  On lighter days I can manage for 12 hours before emptying. Leaks do happen occasionally and I use a liner on heavier days when I really can’t deal with spillage (white outfits, pilates, dance class).  My long term plan is to replace liners with period undies; I’ll let you know how it goes!

How Healthy are your Periods?

Menstrual cups have important health benefits over tampons. The cup is positioned in your vagina where it seals with the muscle wall, staying open to collect the flow of menstrual blood. Tampons absorb blood, but also healthy vaginal fluids, and can disrupt your normal vaginal pH.  Non-organic tampons and pads also contain dioxins, carcinogens and other chemicals, the cumulative effects of which are unknown. If the cup isn’t for you right now, please please please use organic.  A cup may also be helpful for clotty or painful periods. Where a tampon acts more like a plug promoting stagnation, the cup allows for the free flow of menstrual blood.  

The flow, pain, colour and consistency of your period are reflections of your menstrual health.  As a practitioner, this information helps me to understand the energetic imbalances that may be happening for you, and gives me a way forward to help balance them with acupuncture, Chinese herbs and lifestyle support. Your period is like a monthly report on your overall health, and provides important information for treatment, even when you’re coming to see me for something completely unrelated.  Using a cup can help you get more in touch with your period, and by extension, your health.

Choosing the Right Cup for You

There are a number of brands of cups available in a range of different sizes and shapes, so it may require some trial and error to find the brand and size that is perfect for you.  Most menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicon, however there are a few brands that use latex. If you have a latex sensitivity or allergy be sure to check before you buy. If you have very painful periods, endometriosis, pelvic inflammation or a sensitive bladder, try a softer, smaller cup.  

Switching to a menstrual cup is an easy way to minimise waste, save money and support your health. I have been a happy menstrual cup user for a number of years; I hope you’ll give it a try!