I’m going to be honest, some of you may not want to read this post. If talking about things of feminine nature, ya know, the monthly friend, Ms. Flow, or that time of the month makes you feel uncomfortable, you may start to feel fidgity while reading the following. I’m assuming that would not imply women, but who knows. Every politically incorrect post has to have a warning, right? However, if you are a woman in your menstruating years, or you know someone who is, this post still applies and you should read it. I made a significant change in how I deal with my own monthly friend, and I want to tell you all about it, because I truly believe it could change your life for the better as it did mine.
About four years ago, I said goodbye to tampons for the last time, and haven’t looked back since. You use pads, you ask? Nope. Not even cloth ones. Is there anything else, you’re probably wondering? Yep, there is. It’s called the menstrual cup. And no, it doesn’t look like a drinking glass.
My particular menstrual cup is called a Moon Cup, and is a small, reusable bell-shaped cup made of medical grade silicone (the same stuff they make baby bottle nipples out of). It is made by the most popular American producer of menstrual cups, The Keeper, Inc. which introduced its first rubber version in 1986. The same cup is still sold today, but the Moon Cup is now also available, which is their second, silicone version introduced in 2006.
If they have been around so long, how come many people haven’t heard about them before? For one, it’s hard to market a reusable product to companies producing disposable feminine hygiene products, when a woman will only purchase a few menstrual cups during her lifetime. The women who have used them, and who know their benefits, have worked very hard to make them available to others in health food stores, women’s clinics, and more recently, online. Very slowly but surely, more women are becoming aware of alternatives to disposable tampons and pads, like organic tampons made without rayon, disposable and reusable menstrual cups, and cloth pads.
I personally first learned about the menstrual cup while surfing the web about women’s health issues. I stumbled across this site, which covers the history of menstruation. A funny thing to be reading about perhaps, but quite interesting nonetheless! After that I read a couple of references about them in other places, and happened to see one in my local food co-op store. I began doing research on them, and decided it was worth a try. My top two reasons for investing in one were that Papa and I were investing in SHTF supplies, and reusable anything was at the top of the list. Plus, I was also investing in ways to save money in the long run. As it turned out, there were other benefits I would soon discover.
There were a variety of menstrual cups to choose from once I decided to buy one. I read feedback from other women who had used them to see which were the most popular, and decided on the Moon Cup, a relatively new version being made in Cincinnati, Ohio. The choice of which menstrual cup to use is purely personal, as there are slight variations, but all serve the same purpose.
Based on my personal experience and research I’ve done, here are some of the advantages of using a reusable menstrual cup ~
- It’s cheap. Sure, there is an initial investment of $35, but when cared for properly (they are not boiled or cleaned with chemicals), The Keeper has been known to last for ten years. Considering that in a woman’s lifetime she may use 15,000 pads or tampons, a menstrual cup can seriously cut down on the grocery bill. If you spend $5 a month on disposable feminine products, you would spend $600 in the time it would take for another woman to use her Keeper or Moon Cup to its end.
- It’s freeing. Since my Moon Cup holds 3x as much as a super sized tampon, I don’t have to empty it nearly as often as others have to change their tampon or pad. That means I don’t have to carry extra supplies with me when I leave home, and I can leave my cup in all night without having to get up to empty it.
- It’s cleaner and more comfortable. Once I got used to wearing it, there was no leaking (which is common for tampons), even while sleeping and being active outdoors. There is also less smell than when using pads. When I first starting using my Moon Cup, I could feel it there, and it took a few months before I was completely comfortable using it at night, but now, I can’t imagine living without it! I do sometimes forget I’m wearing it.
- It makes less trash. Both The KEEPER and Moon Cup menstrual cups are environment friendly, no paper products or plastic applicators to throw away each month. The rubber used in The Keeper is made from trees that are tapped, not cut down, and the medical grade silicone used in the Moon Cups is completely synthetic, using no natural resources. The National Women’s Health Network states that twelve billion pads and 7 million tampons pollute landfills every year in the US. An average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime.
- It supports a “made in America” company. The KEEPER and The Moon Cup are manufactured in Cincinnati, Ohio, by The KEEPER Inc. They are FDA approved, and ship their products all around the world. In a time when fewer and fewer companies manufacture products within the United States, it is especially important to our economy to support the few who remain.
- It’s safer. Suzan Hutchinson developed Toxic Shock Syndrome, or TSS, in the 1980s after trying Rely tampons. After many women died within days of using their super absorbant tampons, the product was taken off the shelves and are no longer sold. But TSS, a sometimes fatal disease caused by a bacterial toxin, is still associated with tampon use. Perhaps because of the profitability of this disposable feminine hygiene product, the reported relationship between tampon use and TSS is still a foggy one, but research has shown that the use of high-absorbancy tampons made with rayon for an extended period of time appears to increase the risk. Women under 30 are most likely to contract TSS, with the peak of the epidemic reaching 813 cases including 38 deaths reported to the CDC in 1980, but some believe the current number of cases is underreported since it is not required for hospitals to report them.
Tampons are generally made of cotton and rayon, which is a fiber made from wood pulp. The product is then bleached, with either chlorine dioxide or a chlorine free bleaching method. Both the rayon and the bleaching process can create a toxic byproduct called dioxin, in very small amounts. The EPA has reported that in high levels, dioxins have been shown to cause cancer in animals, and stated that it can also damage a person’s immune system, cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and reduce fertility. Other research has linked dioxin exposure with the development of endometriosis.
The FDA says that in small amounts dioxin is harmless, but the EPA says that given the fact that dioxin is “cumulative and slow to disintegrate”, it can become dangerous with repeated exposure. Given that menstrual cycles are repetitive, it is reasonable to assume that levels of dioxin can become toxic in women using tampons. Says thekeeper.com, “A study sponsored by the FDA Office of Women’s Health was published in 2005, which found “detectable levels of dioxin in seven brands of tampons,” including at least one 100 percent cotton brand.”
With over 20 years to look back on, no cases of TSS have been reported after using The Keeper or The Moon Cup. “It has been laboratory tested, and results indicated that it is very unlikely to amplify the bacteria responsible for TSS.”
Other health benefits reported of using The Keeper or Moon Cup over tampons:
- They do not cause vaginal dryness
- They do not make tiny rips and tears in the vaginal walls
- They do not disrupt the normal vaginal pH level
- They do not have an affect on vaginal bacteria, including those responsible for infections
Along with 91% of women who have used a menstrual cup, I am completely happy with my Moon Cup and intend not only to continue using it but to recommend it others whenever I have the opportunity.
However, there are a few potential disadvantages to using one ~
- It has an upfront cost that is more than the cost of disposable feminine hygiene products. If you don’t have the cash right now, using other options may be cheaper, but in the long run it is more cost-effective to invest.
- It takes a couple months to really get used to. At first, I used disposable mini pads at the beginning of my period when it was heaviest, and at night before I started wearing the Moon Cup around the clock during my period. Other ideas include trying different sizes, shapes, or materials of cups, using a water-based lubricant to make insertion more comfortable, changing the folding method for insertion, trimming the stem of the cup, and practice.
- I have heard that some women who have tendency for dehydration or UTI’s may experience an increase in UTI’s or aggravation of a current infection. I have not experienced this, but if that is a concern for you, it may be prevented by drinking extra water during the time you will be using The Keeper or Moon Cup.
- A few cases have been reported of IUDs for birth control being accidently dislodged when removing their menstrual cups, a situation which as also been reported by tampon users.
- It is possible for a menstrual cup to stretch or break the hymen, possibly more than tampon use. If it is important to you to keep your hymen intact, a menstrual cup may not be right for you.
- It may be uncomfortable or unsafe for a women with pelvic organ prolapse to use menstrual cups.
- If you are sensitive to latex, you may have an allergic reaction to The Keeper, but as The Moon Cup is made of medical grade silicone it is hypoallergenic and may be a better option.
Here’s how they work ~
Both The Keeper and Moon Cup are easy to use and care for. They come in two sizes, before a vaginal birth and after, to aid in comfort. The average women’s entire monthly flow is about 2-4 ounces, and since the cups can easily hold one ounce, it is safe and comfortable to wear for up to 12 hours at a time.
To insert either cup, first fold it lengthwise between your fingers, insert, rotate and pull slightly to get a seal. The cup follows the normal slant of your vagina, does not touch the cervix, but rests below it.
To remove, insert finger and hook around the rim, gently push away from your vaginal walls and release the suction, pull the tab gently, remove while supporting the bottom of the cup, and empty. Rinse or wipe and reinsert.
When your period is done, clean your Keeper or Moon Cup in soapy water and let it dry. It can also be rinsed in vinegar. The Moon Cup and The Keeper come with small cloth bags to store them in between uses. Your Keeper or Moon Cup may become discolored over time, but this is normal and does not mean it needs to be replaced.
Why should you buy a Moon Cup or Keeper through American Family Now?
Because of my personal experience I strongly support The Keeper, Inc. and would recommend their products to any of my loved ones. By purchasing either The Keeper or the Moon Cup through our website, by clicking here or on the ad found below and in the sidebar, you will not only experience the benefits for yourself, but you will also be supporting our home-building fund at the same time! All proceeds we earn as an affiliate of The Keeper, Inc. will be used for purchasing materials to build our off-grid house.
Please tell your family and friends about this opportunity, and take advantage of it yourself! I’m sure you will be just as happy with The Keeper or Moon Cup as I am! Click here to purchase one now, or feel free to email me with any questions you have about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Websites used in researching the history, safety, and use of menstrual cups for this post: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cup, thekeeper.com, and mooncupsandkeepers.com.