Making menstruation a little greener

Since I’m still trying to get my vacation summary post put together (hundreds of pictures from two different cameras take a long time to sift through let me tell you), I thought I’d talk about something else that has been on my mind lately. It may be TMI for some, but I’m not letting that stop me, so consider yourself warned. The topic is menstruation and reusable menstrual products.

Photo courtesy Greencolander

Photo courtesy Greencolander

Thanks to breastfeeding, I had many, many moons free of periods after Julian’s birth, but now my cycles are back I’ve been trying for the last few months to get the hang of using a Moon Cup. I am not a fan of disposable diapers for many reasons including the fact that they fill up the landfills, and don’t feel that disposable menstrual pads are much better ecologically either. So in the name of green living, I decided to try out a Moon Cup from Glad Rags that I received (while I was pregnant with Julian) to review. It’s just taken me a long time to get to doing that review (and I’m still not ready yet).

Truth be told, I’ve never been fond of tampons and have avoided using them except on rare occasions. I’ve just never liked the way they felt and preferred to use pads instead. So I have been a little reticent about trying to make the switch from pads to a cup that must be inserted and I haven’t found my happy place with it yet. I find it often feels like it’s falling out or it actually does slip down and starts to come out. Maybe I’m not inserting it high enough? Maybe my va-jay-jay isn’t right for a Moon Cup?

Any experienced Moon Cup, Diva Cup or Keeper users want to chime in? Has anyone gone from being a pad user to a cup user with success? I need success stories to motivate me to keep at this.

I’ve also considered using mama cloth (reusable cloth pads), but I’m not sure I want to go that route. I already wash cloth diapers on a weekly basis and am not sure I want to add cloth pads to the laundry list too. The Moon Cup would certainly be a whole lot less maintenance if I can get more comfortable with using it.

So what say you? I need advice. And if you don’t use reusable menstrual products, would you consider them? Once I get better with my Moon Cup I plan to have a challenge and a giveaway to help motivate you to give it a try too.

Help me have a happy, green period. ;oP

And while we’re on this subject, have you donated to Goods 4 Girls – a program to help young women in Africa gain access to better menstrual product – yet?

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71 thoughts on “Making menstruation a little greener

  1. I switched to the Diva cup four or five months ago. I have to say that I fell in love with it pretty quickly.

    That being said, I do occasionally have a hard time getting it in…And sometimes I can actually feeling it poking out, which isn’t comfortable. But (since we’re dismissing potential TMI) I think I’ve realized that when I can feel it poking there is a pretty direct correlation to needing to empty my bladder of have a BM)

    Now that I have that figured out, I really am completely sold. It’s been so nice not having to fuss with menstrual products so often when I am on my period…and I really do love the fact that I’m creating no trash!

  2. I want to try the Diva cup. Not having much opportunity right now, which is FINE by me. I actually LOVED my cloth when I used it. I washed it w/ the diapers so it was no add’l laundry. It feels so, so much better!

  3. Amy, I’ve got the Diva Cup and so far it’s going well for me. I do notice that it sits too low sometimes, but like the PP I also notice that’s when I need to pee ;) The other thing is, for the Diva Cup the instructions say you can snip a bit of the tip off and I did that, much better now.

    I used tampons before this, so I’m no help in the insertion area, but if it’s uncomfortable to remove, do it slowly and pinch the cup as it’s coming out. You should hear the suction release then you can safely pull it out without hurting yourself.

    Good luck hun, the first month was a little iffy for me, but now I’ve used it for a bit and love it.

  4. I have never used the Moon Cup or Diva Cup, and to be honest, I can’t really imagine ever using them. I’m not a big tampon person either, mostly because they’ve always made my cramps SO much worse. But because my period tends to last 6-8 days, I’ve often used them on the last 2-3 days, when the flow is very light but not light enough to get away with just a pantyliner.
    BUT I have started using mama cloth and I am SO happy with it! I use organic cotton pads made by Imse Vimse (who also make cloth diapers), and they are simply so much softer than any disposable pad you can find. The best thing about them is that they are breatheable and so I don’t feel like my lady parts are suffocating (I don’t care what the feminine hygiene products companies say – I always feel like I have plastic in my crotch when I wear some super high-tech “stay-dry,” ultra-airy-fairy crap).
    As for the washing, my daughter wears cloth diapers, so I am also washing a lot. But the thing is, if you buy enough cloth pads to last your entire period, you only have to wash them once a month. And they’re not as bulky as cloth diapers, so it’s not like they fill the machine all on their own. What I’m saying is that I don’t feel like washing the mama cloth has made my laundry duties any more time or energy consuming.
    I wasn’t sure at first either, so I just bought enough cloth pads to last about 2 days of my period. After two periods, I felt I could compare the feel of both disposable pads and mama cloth, and then I decided to buy more cloth. (I bought 4 sets from Imse Vimse, which amounts to 4 nighttime pads, 24 regular pads and 4 light-flow pads. This lasts me my entire period, even when it lasts 8 days!)

  5. Kim – Yes, that is part of my issue. When it starts to come out, it’s VERY uncomfortable and rubs in all the wrong places. I should add that I’ve trimmed the tip of the piece that sticks down (for removal) and that has helped somewhat. I don’t want to cut it too short or I’m afraid it will get stuck inside me. :oP

    Thanks for the support, everyone. Keep the ideas coming!

  6. I don’t use the cup, I use cloth, but have been thinking about trying a cup because (since we’re sharing!) my pads smell bad even after washing them twice.

    I have used a diaphragm and cervical cap (LOVED IT) as b/c so I have no issues with sticking stuff up there, but in my experience if you can feel something slipping, you don’t have it up high enough.

  7. I am trying out the Diva cup for the first time — starting well, today! So far I like it just fine. I was worried about insertion, but it appears I got it right, as it hasn’t leaked yet. I don’t feel any more or less crampy, and really, I don’t feel it at all!

  8. I want to try the Diva cup. I too just got my period after years of freedom. It sounds lame but I have a huge stash of products that I want to use first, since they are heading to the landfill anyway, I figure I should use them first.

    Love reading the comments on this one!

  9. I got a few samples of these things…not sure of the brand now but it was just a ring and then the bottom part was like a really thin plastic mesh. It was so much better in swimming season. I found it was very comfortable. The only downside seemed to be taking it out on a heavy day. It got really messy! I definitely wouldn’t want to be doing that in a public restroom.

  10. I’ve been using the Diva Cup for about four months now. I find that it does leak a bit, and it does seem like it’s coming out, but despite how hard I bear down it hasn’t actually fallen out yet, and despite the leaks it’s still a lot better than the pad plus two pantiliners I used to use at night (and still have messes!). The first two months I used it my cramping was much worse than normal – I somehow want to chalk that up to my body getting used to having a foreign object there all day every day, but I don’t know how feasible that scenario is. All in all I’m glad I switched. Now what do I do with three boxes of tampons?

    (btw -despite it sounding gross, I find being able to measure the amount of flow, and see the color and texture of the blood faschinating as it changes from cycle to cycle.)

  11. I LOVE my Mooncup. It is green, it is cheap, it means no messy tampons or towels to dispose of (ick!). It doesn’t dry you out the way tampons do and is not linked to TSS. Sure you see your blood, but you do anyway and it goes straight down the toilet.

    I’ve been using the same one for nearly two years and may treat myself to a new one, not because it leaks or anything just because it’s got little discoloured over time.

    Like Erica I have also noted the changes in the colour and texture of my flow during my period.

  12. Amy, I’ll be watching the replies with great interest, my cycles are still absent (hurrah!), it is so good to have that break!

    But seen as Littlepixie is 21 months old now, I imagine I’ll be seeing their return soon, so I’ve been reading up on the mooncup & divacup, but I was never a fan of tampons, hmmm… so many options, I feel like a 12 year old waiting to start all over again :)

  13. Question for those of you who use cloth pads or cups: What do you do with them when they’re dirty and you’re out and about? I’ve thought about trying another method (I currently do tampons) but the idea of carrying around a dirty pad in my purse all day or having to rinse out a cup in a public restroom kind of icks me out.

  14. I’m a Keeper user and fan. I will admit that it took about a month or two to really get very used to it, but after that, you totally forget it’s even there! I find that not only is it “greener” but it’s also much more convenient and comfortable in my opinion!

    Steph

  15. I’ve been using the Diva Cup for about 6 months and love it. The only down side is the need for a back up, I still insert it wrong sometimes thus creating leaks.

    Otherwise I love my Diva Cup. Its so much easier than pads, and since I can’t use tampons its a great alternative. I am trying Luna Pads for my backup to the cup.

  16. To Merly:
    With my cup, I clean it in the sink between insertions. This obviously works better in single toilet public bathrooms. If I don’t have the luxury of such bathrooms I wipe off the exterior and interior and reinsert. Nothing to carry around and nothing to worry about.

  17. I found the first few cycles took some getting used to. I felt like it was rubbing on the wrong bits and discovered I needed to trim the stalk off entirely… like you I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get it out again, but that hasn’t happened yet! LOL!

    Make sure you do have the right size though.

    I found that for the first few months I needed to squat in order to insert it to where it felt comfy – as high up as I could and point it towards the small of your back. It also took me a few goes to get the thing folded right, and the subsequent “unfolding” inside me to happen quickly. Sometimes it took me a couple of goes. Now I’m so used to it that I no longer need to squat.

    Like to others I sometimes find it moves down… for the same reasons. All it requires is a bit of a shove to move it back up again, or have a pee/#2.

    The only time I’ve had leaks is when I’ve delayed emptying it on heavy days.

    I did a post about it on my blog.

  18. Oh right! People have periods! I’d sort of forgotten… ;)
    I’m a landfill-filling tampon user, because pads make me feel like I’m wearing diapers (no matter what material they’re made out of – I’ve tried cloth).
    When I get a period again, I’m definitely trying the cup.

  19. I’m a Diva Cup user! During the day, I love it, as long as I follow the directions and get it in properly, in which case, it never leaks or feels uncomfortable. It has been a much better experience for me than tampons.

    However, the Diva Cup never seems to work for me at night. It may be something about how I position my body when I’m lying down, but when I get back up, everything just flows right out. It’s a mess.

    Anyway, I’ve got to try GladRags now that you’ve mentioned them. It might be a good nighttime solution for me.

  20. I’m still breastfeeding my 9 mo old and my cycles haven’t returned yet, but before I conceived him I LOVED The Keeper cup.

    I’m typically a pretty heavy flow-er but I never had a single problem with it. That is unless I forgot it was there and needed to empty it.

    I found that if it was sitting to low or poking things it was because I didn’t get a good seal. Because these cups use suction to stay on your cervix you have to make sure it’s in high enough. Sitting on the toilet to insert can sometimes hinder that. Try standing facing the toilet and putting one foot on the seat. Some ladies have better luck squatting to put it in.

  21. I used the cloth pads for years. I had a special bowl with a lid that I kept under the sink. I would put the pads in there each day and replace the water every time I put a new pad in. The smell wasn’t bad, just a little iron-y. And if you have soaked them then the blood comes out when you do wash them — at the end of the cycle. If you have to change them out of the house you just keep a ziploc bag with you with a wet paper towel in it. That works to keep it from staining as much.
    I tried the Diva but it just won’t work. Painful cramps and pokey feelings inside. During childbirth my vaginal wall tore and now it lets my bladder sit part way in there. I think that is why it is so uncomfortable. I could never get the thing to stay up high. I just figured it was because of my childbirth. I used a “keeper” before childbirth w/o problems.

  22. I used a Keeper for years and have had my Diva for the last 5 or so. LOVE IT. The ability to go 12 hours (or sometimes more, if I forget) without emptying it is freaking great. No added laundry, no extra crap in the land fill, super portable, and if it’s in right you shouldn’t feel it at all.

    Meryl: You can just wipe off the cup and reinsert if you don’t want to rinse it off in a public restroom. The nice thing about not having to empty it for 12 hours is that you can usually plan for doing it in private pretty easily.

    Here are some resources about reusable menstrual cups for those who may be interested:

    http://community.livejournal.com/menstrual_cups

    http://vaginapagina.com/index.php?title=Menstrual_Products#Reusable_Menstrual_Cups

  23. I have never tried these reusable cups. But, i am a HUGE fan of instead, which is a disposable cup. But, the number that are disposed of are few compared to the pads and tampons I would go through. On the occasion that i can’t find more and i have use tampons or pads, I feel so dirty and messy. i have been a huge fan of the cup since college, but only recently heard of the reusable cups.

  24. No advice to give, just wanted to say thank you for this very timely post! I really want to try a cup out but I’m scared because I’ve never really liked tampons. But I think that’s due to the dryness and subsequent pain I get from them and it sounds like that’s not an issue with the cups. I can tell I’ll be spending LOTS of time surfing the links in the comments, so thanks everyone…

    And good luck!=)

  25. I’ve recently started using the Mooncup and love it. Prior to that was using cloth pads. I find I prefer to wear a liner with it in case of leaks (more like spotting), and have found that just wiping it clean between uses is fine and I wash it with soapy water in the shower every day during my cycle.
    I’d gone off using tampons after having my children….just didn’t like them…dry and irritating to insert and seem to make my cramps worse as they can sit right on the cervix. My mooncup instructions say not to insert the cup as high as a tampon…should sit lower, but held in place by the vaginal muscles. Trimming the stem really helped make it more comfortable for me too.
    I’d recommend it for anyone, and wished I’d known about it for all those years. (Although I think the size might be intimidating for teens or those who haven’t had a baby….even though it squashes down to insert.)

  26. I’ve used my New Moon Cup for 3-4 months, and I too love it. I had to cut off the entire stem so it wouldn’t rub on me uncomfortably, and I also had to start inserting it *open*. Otherwise, I don’t think it unfolded properly and didn’t suction on right.

    Like clbeyer, I have nighttime leaking problems. I wonder if it’s just because I have an oddly shaped vagina or something, and it shifts when I lie down (???). (Maybe clbeyer and I both inherited oddly shaped vaginas, since we’re sisters. :) ) Anyone else have these nighttime difficulties?

  27. They did send you the larger size (for women who have had babies) right? That’s the only reason I can think of for it to feel like it’s falling out. I use the Diva Cup but it looks almost exactly the same. At first it was hard to get it inserted correctly, and there’s not much to do about that except practice. It took several months for me to get used to it, and I also ended up snipping the end off the stem because it was poking me. In the end it was so, so worth it. My first two days are incredibly heavy and tampons never did much for me. I do have to empty the cup more often than I’d like, but it’s not that bad now that I’m used to it. When I quit tampons for the Cup, my cramps went away and I literally lost a full day off my period. I’ll never use a tampon again.

    And about the cloth pads. I would honestly never attempt using them by themselves with my heavy periods, although some heavy flow women swear by them. I want them for Diva Cup backup, which is pretty light. Some people on the cups don’t need backup at all, but I do, and the pads are expensive and create more garbage. I have all the stuff together and just need to go ahead and make the darn things before my next period!

    Good luck! I hope the cup works for you.

  28. I started using a diva cup last month and mama pads. The diva cup took a day or 2 to get use to but most of the time I could not feel it. I did have to place it high and felt a little strange doing it but really it did get better. The mama pads I wash with cloth diapers so it doesn’t create more laundry loads. Good luck. Don’t give up.

  29. Amy, believe or not, your old mother tried one of these cups back in the 80′s and while I didn’t keep using it, it sure did make sense to me. I thought it would save money and the environment at the same time but did find it somewhat uncomfortable at times. Like anything, it will take some getting used to and practice to get it to work right. When you become premenepausal, it might not be the best way to go if you have very heavy periods. Good luck!

  30. How funny. I had posted about this yesterday too. I have both a Keeper (wrong size, bought before pregnancy) and a Diva cup. I haven’t used the diva cup yet, just got it in the mail a few days ago. I LOVE my cup and will never go back to regular tampons again. It’s better for the Earth, my health (there’s freaky things in tampons), and my bank account. :)

    About yours, make sure you have the right size. The “after baby” cups are slightly larger because having a baby.. ya know. Even pregnancy (if you had a csection) can effect you down there. Also to make sure it’s in deep enough, pull on the stem down and forward and you should feel it catch on your pelvic bone. If it doesn’t, push it higher and try again.

  31. I use the diva cup. Have since January? I think-

    The first day I got it in perfectly- didn’t even feel it. But then I inserted it wrong and it leaked all over the place and hurt. It wasn’t pushed up around the cervix. The seal (suction that keeps it from leaking while in) wasn’t perfect. I have learn pretty well how to insert it, and do I ever love it now. You have to make sure it is pushed up against the cervix as high as it can be.

    Good luck, keep at it!

  32. I got my diva cup feel in love with it, then got pregnant and had to store it away for a few months. But those 4 months I got to use it i loved not having to worry about anything all day long!

  33. I’m giving it the old college try again today. I inserted it and, even though I had trimmed the stem before, it immediately started bothering me, so I took it out and cut it nearly all the way off. (All of your stories of cutting yours off and not getting the cup stuck inside you reassured me I’d be ok.) I had to try a few times to get it reinserted so that it felt right, but so far so good. I have a panty liner on as a backup. Hopefully I’ll be able to use it for the rest of this period and be well on my way to a Moon Cup addiction. ;)

    Thx again for sharing all of your experiences w/ the cups and cloth. It’s good to know we have options.

    Amy
    CDG

  34. Wow! What a ton of discussion you’ve got going on here!

    I’ve never tried any of these, though I have read about them before and considered it. After reading all the comments I’m really curious. I hate feeling icky. And although I’ve never minded using tampons, my body has started complaining (getting irritated) so I’m left with pads which I despise (feels ickier.)

    The cup, in addition to being greener, sounds a lot cleaner, too. And I’m all for that.

  35. I tried the Diva Cup and the Instead cups and they kept falling out. I think the problem is the position of my cervix. I want to use them, but it just got too difficult and aggravating. I may cut my stem off as far as possible and try again, but I think it is just too long for me.

    I did switch to cloth pads and LOVE them! My periods are actually shorter! And I react to disposable pads, so I am finally comfortable and don’t feel like I even have my period with cloth.
    Washing cloth is great when you have cloth diapers to wash already. I just store them in a cold water soak under my sink and then drain and add to my cloth diapers. No big deal, no extra washing.
    I highly recommend Cottonmama pads and Happy Heiney pads. The Luna Pads did not impress me at all.

  36. I love it that your MOM answered on here!! Awesome!

    I have a Diva cup and just over the last few months have started using it and I love it. Yes, it’s weird to put it in (even for a tampon user like myself) and yes, the little tip pokes out sometimes (thanks for the tip about trimming it!!) but after a few cycles, I am thrilled!!!

    I hadn’t thought of cloth as backup, but I am going to go check it out. What a great idea!

  37. I have been using Instead the disposable cups on and off between kids for 7 years. My mom and 1 sister, use the Keeper and love it, so I am thinking about switching. Not because I don’t like Instead, but because they are (even though better than regular disposables) still disposable and not as ev friendly as I would like. I do, however, during heavy times, wear a panty liner just in case. With two little boys, I don’t always remember to empty enough and can leak occasionally.

    The real reason I am posting (’cause all of this has been covered for the most part) is about cramps and heavy cycles lasting 6-8 days. After my youngest was born and my cycle returned when he was 10 months and still nursing, I had super heavy, crampy cycles lasting 6-8 days and sometimes only 23-25 days apart. My GP, said it just sometimes happens after kids, that’s the price you pay (don’t see him anymore) but an acupuncturist, put me on 3-6-9 fatty acid supplements. Within 1 cycle cramps were almost nothing. Then she added 2 tonics (DM me if interested, I’ll have to go downstairs and figure out what they are called) and I am back to a 27-29 day cycle with 4-6 day regular type flow.

    Anyhoo, moral of the story is, if your experience doesn’t seem right to you, don’t assume it is something you have to live with. Hope this helps!

    -Karen
    http://peckedbyducks.com

  38. Hi! I’m a Diva Cup user and I have been for a long time now! My reasons were because we have such old sewer lines that ours couldn’t handle tampons and I refuse to wear a pad. I’m not a baby, I do not need a diaper. SO, that left me searching for alternatives and I found The Diva Cup! I was definitely nervous since my sister had tried ‘The Keeper’, which sounds more like some weird punishment, and she hated it. The Diva Cup is smaller and much much more flexible than The Keeper was. I ADORE mine and that’s a really odd sentiment for your period products, but it’s true. It’s freed me from shopping that horrid isle every month. It will last me a lifetime! Definitely look into it!

    Oh and one bit of information that cup-type products should include is that when you insert it after bending it like a taco, don’t ‘rotate’ it like their directions say. You want to flip it over UNTIL it rotates easily. Rotating did nothing for me so the key was the flipping. Hope this helps you make a decision! :D Big hugs from one greener Mama to another! :D XOXO

    P.S. I immediately cut off the stem of mine and I’ve been totally fine without it. The stem was definitely annoying. ;)

  39. Mandy, what exactly do you mean by “flipping” the cup until it rotates easily? Do you mean pinching the opposite sides until it’s round again? I think you have the answer to my problem.

    I used the Divacup for my last period and the thing leaked almost the whole time (most of the time just a little trace of blood, but still). I liked that I didn’t need a back up method with my super OB tampons.

    Oh, and I totally plan on cutting that stem off now that I’m not afraid of losing the thing.

  40. Hi Amy :)
    As you know I am 2 weeks postpartum right now so I thought I’d chime in.
    Before conceiving I was using a Keeper. I had to trim the stem totally off, as in nothing left on it at all, in order for me to wear it and NOT feel anything. I never had an issue getting it out or “losing” it… but I have to say I honestly prefer cloth pads!

    I just throw them in with the diapers and wash everything together, since my washer has a sanitize cycle I don’t worry about it, and have never had a smell issue.
    I think I used one disposable pad after my recent homebirth, and the next morning was using my favorite clothies and have since :) My midwife and her assistant thought they were “adorable” lol.
    I use pads from http://www.joyfullivingnaturals.com and can highly recommend them!

  41. I’m just catching up on my blog reading and had a chance to peruse some of your guest bloggers’ posts. Very informative and diverse. Nice choices.
    Sorry, I don’t have much to add for this post, except, yikes, that cup thing looks scary!

  42. I’m not sure how much help I’d be because I went from tampons to diva cup. I never thought I’d like the switch but I do. I’m not sure how the other ones work, but with the diva cup it is supposed to sit low. If it goes to high, it leaks. Tampons sit high, but it only took me a few days to get used to the diva cup. Again not sure on the moon cup, but with the diva cup you can trim down stem so that it isn’t sticking out & feeling funny. I was afraid to trim mine, but now that I’ve been using it for months now I think I am going to because I barely even need it.

    It takes some getting used to, but I actually prefer it which really surprised me. I am super funny about all things like that, I wouldn’t even use the non-applicator type tampons because I didn’t want to have to insert them. The diva cup is really easy to use once you get the hang of it. It seems overwhelming at first, but tampons did for me as well.

    I can’t wear pads, they drive me insane. I think they are pure torture for women :)

  43. I LOVE my Diva Cup. Love love love. Did have some trouble at first, but 6-7 months into it, I know exactly how to insert it to get it to suction so it takes about 5 seconds.

    I also cut the tip completely off after the first use. You actually can’t “Lose” the cup inside you due to your cervix being closed, so anatomy-wise, it has to come out sooner or later. Try bearing down like you’re having a bowel movement and that sometimes helps.

  44. Amy, could you post links for the various cups so that I can do some more reading? I would love to switch to something greener, but I haven’t even begun to research any of these yet. Thanx!

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