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My first period was when I was 10. I knew what it was and I dealt with it on my own. I told my mom that I needed a pad and hoped she wouldn’t make a a big deal out of it, because I was embarrassed. I washed my stained underwear because I didn’t want the maid to touch my blood. That period was the start of monthly discomfort and insecurity. Am I leaking through my school uniform? Did the boys see? I’m so tired of washing the stain out of my underwear. How do I throw away these dirty pads?
The pads disposal have always been my biggest worry. Stained clothes can be washed and worn again. Dirty pads stay dirty and I often wonder how the waste management handles it at the end of the processing chain. Especially knowing the mountains of garbage we have here in our landfills.
A few years ago I heard about the menstrual cup. It gained traction with the buzz around Diva Cup. Women on the internet claimed it to be cheaper and better than tampons or pads. More environmentally friendly too. It sounded like the answer to my problem, but the shape freaked me out. Tampons didn’t intimidate me as much because it’s thin and slim. But the menstrual cup looks exactly like a cup and I can’t imagine such foreign object up my vagina for hours.
It took a while for me to gather the courage and get my own menstrual cup. I bought Ruby Cup, size M, because they donate one cup to women in Africa for each cup purchased. It cost me IDR624,000 (US$42) at an e-commerce shop. I was worried but excited. For once I couldn’t wait for my period so I could try it out.
When my period came, I boiled the cup as instructed then fumbled around in the restroom. Previously I’d watched tutorials on Youtube about how to insert the menstrual cup. I practiced it. I was tense and nervous, so the cup didn’t get in easily, but once it was inside, I didn’t feel the cup at all. The only thing I could feel was the stem knocking against my labia (later I cut the stem shorter). It took a couple of cycles to get used to the menstrual cup and I started to see its convenience. Menstrual cup is a much better alternative than pads or tampons for being much cleaner and much cheaper.
What is menstrual cup? How does it work?
I’m sure you’re already familiar with how pads work. You stick it on your underwear and it’ll absorb blood coming out of your vagina. Tampons also work by absorbing blood, but the difference is you stick it inside your vagina. You take it out by pulling the tampon string hanging out of your vagina. Some argue that you can swim with tampons on, but I’ve never tried to prove it.
Menstrual cup works a bit like tampons. The difference is it collects your blood instead of absorbing it. Menstrual cup is made out of medical-grade silicone. It’s easy to sterilize and safe. You put the cup in you so it can collect your blood. You take it out 4-8 hours later, depending on how much you’re bleeding, then pour away the blood down the drain or toilet. You can rinse the cup with clean water or special soap (usually provided by the cup manufacturer), dry it, then put it back in you. The cup can stay inside you for a while. The recommended duration is 4-8 hours, but sometimes I use it longer when I can’t find a decent restroom to clean up.
I’m happy to tell you that collecting my blood this way indeed shortens my cycle by half. My cycle was usually five days, and since I’ve been using the cup it’s only 2.5 days. I’ve been trying to find an explanation on why the cup shortens your period, but I haven’t found any. Hopefully there’ll be research soon.
How is menstrual cup cheaper?
Assuming that with each cycle I use IDR30,000 (US$2) worth of pads, that means in a year I spend IDR360,000 for pads. My menstrual cup is IDR624,000 and it lasts up to ten years with proper care. I also got myself four reusable pads for contingencies and they cost me about IDR230,000. So the total of my menstrual cup and reusable pads is IDR854,000. Within 2.5 years, I’ll get the worth of my money back, and I still have 2-7 years worth of menstrual hygiene products I don’t have to pay for anymore.
How is menstrual cup cleaner?
I simply don’t have to deal with dirty pads. I always hate the task of changing and disposing my dirty pads. I tore it off my underwear, wrap it in layers of tissue or paper, then put it in the trash bin. Then I have to think about someone taking and sorting the trash, possibly touching my dirty pad. *shudders
With menstrual cup, I don’t even have to sit on my own blood for hours. My underwear stays dry and clean. When I’m done with the cup for the day, I simply pour the blood down the toilet and flush it. Then I wash and rinse the cup before inserting it back in me. I still use the reusable pads during my cycle in case of leaks. When I do leak, it’s not much. And I don’t mind washing the reusable pads (it’s easily washable, seriously). Then I’m done.
I have used my menstrual cup for several cycles now. For me it’s a much better option compared to pads and tampons. It’s cheap, clean, and convenient. I’ve stopped worrying about blood stain on my pants. I can use it for swimming and traveling. Best of all, it shortens my period by half.
The menstrual cup is not as scary as I thought it would be. I really encourage you to try it out. It takes a lot off your mind. If you’re looking for information, there’s a lot of resources out there about everything menstrual cup. If you’re still worried, ask your doctor! When you have tried the cup, please share your experience. Let’s discuss!