I know many of you might have a strong reaction when you read the title of this post, but let’s be real: we are all grownups, and I think we can all get through it without squealing like some middle-school girls, right?
If you own a uterus, and you are between the ages of 11 and 55, that uterus is probably giving you a little inconvenience about once every moon-turn. Whether you want to or not, it will show up and must be dealt with. Tampons and pads are not cheap. Many of us spend $5-10 a month, every month, for years . Not only that, but we get taxed for these “luxury” goods in at least 40 states.
Back in 2001 I first read about The Keeper in my beloved copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette. I was so broke at the time, I could only afford $10 a week in groceries. $10 a month was a big stretch in my tiny budget to take care of lady business. This was before everyone had internet, so I sent away for it mail-order and probably paid $20 that I scraped together God knows how. That lasted me 7 years, until I had my first baby in 2008.
It was then that I heard about the new Diva Cup, made of silicone instead of latex. As a nurse, I wanted to reduce my contact with latex, since the more exposure to it increases risk for developing a latex allergy, so I decided to switch. I paid about $27 for a Diva Cup and have been using it since. Yes, that is 8 years now. The only time I haven’t used it is post-childbirth, when I did use disposables. I have reusable pads called Gladrags as backups, but generally don’t need them. (Update: I just got a new cup- a Super Jennie– and I love it!)
I know the idea of a reusable is a little frightening, but here are a few reasons to give them a try:
It’s cheaper. It may require an up-front cost of about $30, but over the long-haul you will pay much less. Manufacturers of convenience items are pretty certain you won’t do the math, but allow me to show you.
Cost of usual products, $10/month x 12 months = $120/year
Cost of a menstrual cup, $30 x 1 time. Some brands recommend changing your cup yearly, and other recommend years of use. For me, I have used each one for minimum 7 years. Your cost will be anything from $30/year to $3/year if you keep it for a decade.
While you can cut more money all at once by cutting cable, your cost savings do add up over time. Besides, why shouldn’t you get an extra $100/year to blow on something you actually would enjoy?
It’s less wasteful. Imagine all the women of childbearing age in the world, and then imagine all of us ditching used feminine products into landfills every month. I’d say that in the past 15 years, I have saved 3600 tampons from being dumped into a landfill. And I’m just one person!
It can keep you covered all day. Many users, including myself, only need to empty twice a day. Now, I have not yet experienced the joys of perimenopause, so ask me about that again in 10 years, but for normal purposes, you should probably be able to go an entire workday without having to worry about leaking.
It’s comfortable! Seriously! It can take a learning curve of a few months to get the hang of inserting and removing, but when in use you shouldn’t be aware of its being there. I didn’t have many options back in 2001, but nowadays there are enough different cups out there to find one that works best for you. I just updated my cup to a Super Jennie Small (yes, even after 3 kids) and I think I found my Goldilocks cup. It’s so comfortable I can’t tell I’m using it.
Do you have sensitive skin? A cup may be your best bet when it comes to staying irritation-free if pads or tampons cause rashes. Tampons also tend to dry out the mucus membranes and this can irritate some women. A silicone cup does not have the same effect as it does not absorb moisture.
One last thing: reducing the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). There are plenty of menstrual cup advocates that will cite a nonexistent or significantly reduced risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome for cup users versus tampon users.
I did a literature search, and the truth is there aren’t any good studies that compare menstrual cup users and tampon users and their risk of TSS. There is a case reported in the literature that connects a case of TSS with menstrual cup use. Don’t assume if you have symptoms that it couldn’t be TSS and always follow recommended hygiene practices: hand-washing, washing cup daily during use, a sterilize by boiling, or soaking in half-water/half-vinegar or hydrogen peroxide after each cycle. If it’s looking cracked or worn out, toss it and get a new one. Use common sense!
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