This post is sponsored by OrganiCup, the award-winning menstrual cup that replaces pads and tampons.
When: Sophomore year of high school. Where: The small bathroom in the hallway by the senior lockers, Pepto-Bismol pink bathroom stalls and a never-stocked tampon dispenser. Who: Me and my best friend and our very new friend, an exchange student from Uzbekistan. What: A comedy of errors in trying to convey, using simple English and a bit of decorum, how she might endeavor to insert a tampon.
This particular exchange was complicated by a language barrier and tiny bathroom stalls, but it’s indicative of how most people learn how to handle their periods—by asking their friends for advice and trying new solutions until they find one that fits—literally and figuratively. This week, OrganiCup is offering RMTL readers (and their friends) a special chance to give their reusable menstrual cup a try. With a special code, you and a friend can get two OrganiCups for the price of one. (Details below.)
It’s been a few years since I first wrote about attempting a more sustainable period. And, at the risk of oversharing, it’s been a few years since I’ve gotten my period, period. (Not to worry. I’m still nursing Silas and my menstrual cycle hasn’t regulated yet. Every body’s different, etc.) In case you weren’t around for the first post, I’ll sum it up by saying that at the time of writing, I was looking for ways to shift my habits toward a more sustainable menstrual cycle. And while I hadn’t been brave enough to try a reusable menstrual cup myself, I was eager to see how after twenty years of being a person with a period, I could shift my habits.
When I asked in that post if there were any eco-champs using menstrual cups out there, I wasn’t expecting just how many would pipe up. I was a little surprised, but mostly I was impressed. Not just by the general do-gooding, but by the sincere enthusiasm.
What’s an OrganiCup? A small, FDA-approved medical-grade silicone cup that you insert into your vagina to collect menstrual blood. It’s free of bleach, glue, perfume, and lotion, and it provides twelve hours of protection against leaks, which means that you can sleep with it or wear it for a whole day without worrying about it. When you’re ready to empty it, you simply remove it, dump the menstrual blood, and give it a rinse. OrganiCup offers their menstrual cups in two sizes. Each cup is minimally packaged and comes with a small cotton bag for stowing. The company confirms what so many commenters told me in that post: that menstrual cups are exceedingly simple to use and that they leave you with a period that’s not only more environmentally friendly, but healthier, more comfortable, and more economical, too. I’m so eager to give mine a try.
If you’d like to try an OrganiCup, the company is offering a special offer for you and a friend. Use the code READTEALEAVES to receive two OrganiCups for the price of one. (NB. When applying the code, your order will automatically be doubled. Unfortunately, there’s no way to combine two differently sized cups, so please pair up with someone who needs the same size cup as you! Head here to determine which size would be right for you.) The code expires July 29, 2018.
This post was sponsored by OrganiCup. Opinions are my own. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support Reading My Tea Leaves.
Thank you for this post, Erin! I also wanted to share a link to another cup that might be more accessible for people who haven’t found a cup that works for them yet, the Keela Cup: https://keelacup.com
They are still in production mode after being funded through Kickstarter, but the cup was created to be more inclusive for people who might find using a cup to be difficult.
Thanks, as always, for a space that’s welcoming and kind. Xo
Yes! I extol the virtues of my Diva Cup to anyone who will listen! It was a literal game changer. I have two — one for my purse and one for my bathroom cupboard. As a result:
— I’m never caught unprepared for my period
— I never have to worry about maintaining a stock of period supplies
— I never have to worry about leakage (mine lasts all day)
— I never have to worry about discomfort (the rubber handle at the end bugged me at first so I snipped it with scissors)
— I never have to worry about toxic shock syndrome (I honestly don’t know if people get this anymore but I heard horror stories from my mother)
— I never have to worry about disposal (dump, rinse, insert)
— I never have to worry about adding trash to the landfill
It’s pretty much like you don’t even have your period (other than the mood swings, cramps, breakouts and bloating, of course…. *eye roll*)
I’ve used a cup since college and echo all of the above sentiments! Adding Thinx to the equation has made my period less sucky and more manageable than ever!
I asked my obgyn about cup options a few years ago and she kind of shut me down saying she didn’t think anything that held inside of you for up to 12 hours was a good idea (TSS, etc). I wonder if there are any obgyn readers who have an opinion? I’d really like to try a cup option…
You don’t have to leave it in for 12 hours! I definitely empty and rinse mine multiple times during the day, depending on flow. At night I only leave it in for as long as I would leave a tampon anyways. And they are FDA approved, just like tampons.
It’s only my personal view (and I’m not an OBGYN), but it is not because a cup *can* be in your body for up to 12 hours that you have to let it in your body for 12 hours. Since I read a bit more about the Toxic shock syndrome (TSS), I decided that I would empty it at least every 4 hours (if I can) in order to lessen the risks.
And you can also combine the cup with reusable pads for example. I.e. choose the option which makes the most sense to you (!) depending on what you have planned for the day (i.e. if you’re away, if you’re home, if you’re doing sports, how you’re feeling that day (there are days where I know that it won’t work for me for that particular day so now, I don’t even try), etc.)
Having both options is really nice and it works for me. And astonishingly, when I’m away, I love having a cup even more. It is really freeing!
I hope I could help!
This is exactly how I plan on using mine; when it’s the most convenient for me. I can’t see myself leaving it in anywhere close to 12 hours, and I’m completely OK with that. If I will be doing something for a few hours where I do not want to be bothered with my period, that’s when I will use it. I view it as purely convenience matter with a bonus point of being good for the environment. And if you don’t want to use it, it’s no big deal. 🙂
Not an OB/GYN, but I have been a cup user for 15 years. I don’t think I’ve ever left mine in for 12 hours. Probably 8 or 9 max, when I’m sleeping. I’ve never had any kind of problems with infections.
Not a OBGYN either, but on more than one occasion over the many several years, I have forgotten mine in place for an entire 24 hours. Ooops. No harmful effect as far as I can tell.
(on the bright side, it really is that comfortable that you totally forget it’s even there!).
As someone who has been a cup convert for well over a decade now, I’d like to share my experience about the sizes:
At 22 I started with the smaller size: all good for 10 years.
Then, after 2 vaginal births, now being over 35, and having (always had) a _very heavy_ flow, I thought the bigger size was the right way to go. But, for some reason it just did not fit right, and kept leaking, even on my lighter days. It also felt uncomfortable.
After a few bad cycles I retuned to the smaller size, and life is all good again.
So, if you have trouble with the bigger size (despite having “all the signs” of being a big cup user), maybe give the smaller size a try before deciding the menstrual cup does not work for you. Had I not been extremely happy for almost 10 years with the smaller one, I definitely would have though that the cup is not for me when using the bigger one.
Thanks for sharing this. I tried the b size b/c I had a c-section 9 months ago (1st child). I forget the brand I tried but at first it worked. But the suction was so strong could barely get it out. And I struggled with the fold, etc.. After reading the OrganiCup sites it says if had C-SECTION we recommend size A. So I’ve just ordered this cup and going to try again hoping that the smaller size will work. I just got to get over being scared of my own vagina! Werid I know….ha! Hopefully all goes well. This will be fantastic for me.
Thank you for sharing, Sari. I started trying different cups about 6 years ago, but after trying several over the years (wasting a lot of money in the process) and even consulting my very helpful doctor, I still have not found one that works for me, while having the same issues you described. You certainly motivate me to try again.
Chiming in with a similar experience! It took me a little while (like 2 years!) after giving birth to get back to “normal” with my small size cup, but now it works as good as ever and the bigger cup I tried never got comfortable. I wish there wasn’t so much guesswork involved in picking a size!
Ah, maybe this is why the smaller one worked for me right after getting my period back! I breastfed for almost 2 years, and didn’t get my period back until my babies were completely weaned. So perhaps the bigger cup would have been ok soon after birthing.
Thanks for sharing! I just got back my period after my third kid and I am almost 40. I also had the same experience.
Thank you for sharing this experience! I have a Mooncup (British brand) and they recommend their larger size for anyone over 30, but I’m having trouble with it like you describe and had been wondering if the smaller size would be better. Will give it a go thanks to your recommendation.
Thank you, that was the solution. Started with a medium sized cup after my second pregnancy. First, it was great but then I had difficulties and changed back to tampons. Now I bought a small one and everything is fine again. I love it!
Zero waste period is bar none the easiest habit change I’ve made in a long time. I have a Diva Cup and some washable pads in different sizes (including light for thong underwear). Try it!
I love this, and am bookmarking to read when I get my period again. Because of nursing and pregnancy, I haven’t had a period since 2010 (I know…) In the past 8 years, options have changed so much, so when my cycle returns I’m going to do a deep dive into lower-impact options.
Because of your original post, I made the switch from tampons to reusable cloth menstrual pads. It was the best decision I have ever made for my health. And yes, it’s good for the planet too. Since switching from conventional tampons over two years ago, I am no longer putting those toxic chemicals inside my body and my period has significantly become lighter. I’m at the point where I don’t think a menstrual cup would be beneficial to me, but I am always happy to suggest reusable menstrual products to folks who are interested in something different
Just a note that if any women have an IUD, it’s suggested not to use a cup. This is because removing the cup can disrupt the position (and thus change the effectiveness) of the IUD. I have always wanted to try a cup, but don’t want to put my IUD at risk!
Hey there: Everyone should make their own decision regarding IUD and menstrual cup use, but here’s an explainer from OrganiCup about using both in tandem in case anyone’s interested: https://www.organicup.com/blog/iud-and-menstrual-cup/
This is one of those things that each person has to decide their comfort level on, but I have been using a Diva Cup with an IUD for 6 years now. I love the ease of the cup and routinely forget I’m on my period (and then realize I’ve left the darn thing in for 12 hours — oops!). I travel a fair amount and have pretty unpredictable periods, so the cup has been a game-changer. I could not recommend it more highly!
Interesting! Thank you both for your feedback and for linking the FAQ from OrganiCup. I will talk to my OBGYN about this! 🙂
I also use a cup with an IUD! No issues, just release the suction prior to removal. Add thinx and flo-rida no longer rearranges my life each month. Find what works for you, be flexible about it, give yourself time to transition from whatever your current method is. There is no painless or perfect way to deal with it, but is a dream to no longer be buying, using, and trashing tampons, liners and all of their packaging
I’ve been using a DivaCup for almost 15 years, since I was in high school. Most people are still surprised/weirded out when I tell them about it, but I LOVE IT. Last fall I unexpectedly got my period while I was away from the weekend and had to buy a box of tampons because I forgot to pack my cup. Even though I only had to use the tampons for a day before I got home, it reminded me of how awesome menstrual cups are–and that I’ll never go back to using disposables. If you’re on the fence about menstrual cups, I’d highly recommend giving one a try. They’re easy to use–you’ll get the hang of it within a few days, max. More importantly, they’re NOT “gross.” It’s just your body, people!
I’m 8 months pregnant and I figure I’ll need to go up a size whenever my period comes back (planning to breastfeed, so not sure when that will be). So it’ll be time to buy a new cup. I’ve always been happy with DivaCup, but will probably be tempted to look into other brands like OrganiCup as well since so many new ones have come out in recent years.
Yes indeed! I’ve been using a Diva Cup for the past 10 years and never looked back!
And in the past year, I’ve also collected this beautiful, ruby, sacred liquid in a Mason’s jar every day of my bleed, so I can give it back to the Earth in an intimate, but incredibly meaningful ceremony. And *this* has truly changed my whole relationship not only to my menstrual blood (which in many cultures is honored as the life-giving substance it really is), but to my cycles. It is very beautiful and empowering.
Menstrual cups are the best. I switched to one shortly before I joined the peace corps because I’d heard that tampons were hard to come by in my service country and I’d read horror stories about waste disposal for period products (mainly involving children going through trash piles and turning used applicators into toys).
Honestly, it is the best period product I’ve ever used:
– It collects everything (no sticky pad feeling, or leaky tampon string), but doesn’t feel drying (like an absorbent tampon can).
– You can leave it in all day without leaks, so you never have to worry about finding an appropriate bathroom at the exact right time in the middle of your day to change it (and for those worried about infection… I echo those above that have used one for years without any problems on this front… while also leaving it in for 12 hours pretty much as a standard).
– I’ve saved soooooo much money. F$&@ the tampon tax.
– I don’t have a gross pile of trash in the bathroom every month. Dumping the cup out in the toilet, and quickly washing it off in the sink is WAY easier to stomach than the smelly trash can IMHO. And when in a pinch, a quick wipe with TP works just fine.
If you haven’t tried one you really should give it a shot. Unlike many things designed for women, this is one that has made my life easier, more comfortable, and a lot more convenient.
Thanks for the great post, Erin. I began using a cup three years ago and have never looked back. I also used Thinx, which are absorbent underwear that are comfortable and nice looking, and a great overnight option if you use a cup and want to give your body a little break. Hooray for better (and more environmentally friendly) periods!
I started using a menstrual cup for a few months between when I had my IUD taken out and when I got pregnant. All in all I used it for about 3 periods. I liked it, but it was really, really hard to use at first. For some reason (I am guessing a high cervix since this is my first pregnancy) I have a really difficult time breaking the suction and end up pulling on the stem that hangs down. It gets the job done but is also really hard. Other than that I liked the convenience it offered.
I’m not an OB/GYN but I am a family NP, so I can offer this: TSS is super rare in general, but I did come across one article about a woman who developed it after using a menstrual cup (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556184/). So it has happened at least once, but I don’t think it’s cause for alarm as long as you are changing it at the recommended intervals. Hope that helps.
Good timing on this! I’ve had my DivaCup for over a year and I felt like it was time for a new one because it hasn’t been working for me lately. I went ahead and ordered!
The Diva Cup and The Keeper/Moon Cup were the original menstrual cups. The Diva Cup is made in Canada and the Keeper/Moon Cup are made in the USA.
Don’t forget to support companies that produce on our continent!
Thanks so much, Amber! Yes: Have heard great things about both! Glad to support companies producing here and so grateful for companies that support this site!
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