Sustainable Periods

A period cup journey

This is a long review guys. I go into depth for you. Hope you enjoy!

Periods. They suck. Anyone with a uterus will tell you that as soon as the cramping comes and the blood starts making itself known, it’s a quick trip to the chemist to buy tampons and pads and everything in-between. And you know what is worse than that? All that plastic waste. In all honestly and we all need to wake up to it, period waste is MASSIVE. Think about it, if you’re a tampon user, you’re going to use at most 4 tampons a day (roughly), now say your period lasts 5 days and you get them once a month and on top of that you’re probably going to have a period for roughly 30 to 40 years. So:

4 X 4 X 12 = 192 tampons/year

12 X 40 = 7680 tampons/lifetime

That’s a lot of tampons for ONE person. Putting aside the fact that most tampons and pads you buy aren’t even biodegradable and last basically FOREVER, the plastic itself is ridiculous. Plastic wrapping, the absorbent layer is usually some for of plastic polymer, the sticky part of a pad is plastic. Unfortunately for those with a uterus, it’s not something you can avoid if you use the traditional period wear. But hopefully I will be able to explore some options on your behalf and go through all the trials and leaks for you. The first one up – period cups

So some things to cover before I get into it:

  • I am on the Pill to deal with PCOS and on top of that, because I can essentially “control” when my period happens, I only get my period every 2 months
  • My periods usually last about 6 days, ranging from a heavy flow with cramping at the beginning to very light spotting at the end

My review below is a day by day assessment of my first time with a menstrual cup. I am going to be open and honest. If you don’t like talking about uteruses and labias, don’t read. This post isn’t for you.

The Lunette Cup (left) and the Saalt Cup (right)

Day One:

I noticed spotting on day one of my period (for me a Monday) and decided to finally get out my Lunette cup that’s been hiding in my drawer because honestly I am afraid of it. Getting it clean is easy enough, boil it on the stove top for about 20 minutes and wait to cool before washing it with the wash I bought with it and then insertion. At this point I’m just going to insert a bit of opinion here – I’ve seen a lot of reviews on cups and the user only runs the cup under hot water from the tap. Guys, please don’t do this. You are not sanitising your cup at all doing this. The water from the tap is not hot enough to kill any bacteria that may be on your cup. Don’t give yourself an infection from laziness or ignorance.

It was a little bit of a learning curve to get it in. It took me a while to realise I just didn’t place it high enough in my body and needed to twist it to make sure there was enough suction to keep it up. To be honest, getting it in was the hardest part on the first day, and I spent a long time in the bathroom taking it in and out until I felt comfortable.

One thing that really annoys me about this cup is the stem. At first it was way too long and I could feel it sitting in my underwear. Then I trimmed it, and trimmed it again and it drove me mad. When trimming, the edge isn’t sharp, but it definitely is felt inside and it’s not an uncomfortable experience.

I still wore a liner just in case. So far I haven’t had any spotting or leaking so that goodness.

Day Two

In the morning I felt a little bit uncomfortable from wearing it – I feel like in my sleep I must have been doing kegals or something because it slipped down a bit and I could just feel it. Liner is still clear of spotting so I must have been successful in getting the suction right. I’m going to ditch it today and see how things go.

Just a quick thought about the the logistics of wearing a cup. Peeing and generally toilet stuff. It seems like because there is a cup or something pushing against my urethra in a sense – my pee comes out slower? It could just all be in head, but definitely an interesting thought process. Also, the Lunette instruction does specify that when you do a number 2 the cup might slip down a bit, you are pushing down and using all those lower region muscles. Just wash your hands and push it back up.

I have finally discovered that the best way to remove is to squat, not over a toilet or anything but just squat down, pinch the bottom to break the suction and remove the cup for emptying and cleaning.

Some negatives (kinda) that I have discovered on this day is the stickiness of the blood. I forgot that blood coagulates so that was an interesting experience trying to clean it and realising the blood wouldn’t just pour out. Yeah, sticky blood, who would’ve thought. I also somehow managed to scratch my inner labia – I am in pain and taken it in and out is not fun. I have not idea how I did this, but I have a feeling it might be the stem from the cup that I trimmed. It’s been riving me mad all day and I am ready to just loose it.

Evening update: I caved in and bought the smaller, softer version from the brand SAALT. After some research this cup looks to be a lot softer and more comfortable to use than the Lunette cup. Hopefully it will be easier to take in and out without pinching my skin as will like the Lunette cup. I’m also begging the gods that the stem is more comfortable for the Saalt cup.

P.S. for my Aussie readers, order your cups from Avoid that international shipping fee!

Day 3

I am not sold on the Lunette cup. Handy for the earlier days in my period when I am bit “heavier” but trimming the stem left a “sharp” edge that is bloody uncomfortable and I know I have complained enough about this every god damn hour but this thing is annoying. Lunette need to fix this because I don’t think I can go on another day with this constantly causing friction on my inner vaginal wall and then when it slips down (usually because I haven’t shoved it up high enough) my inner labia.

Not happy this day in and I can’t wait for my period to be over with.

On a positive note. I still haven’t leaked, which thank goodness, because in the past I have bled through pads and tampons before, through my pants AND onto my WHITE lab coat. A nightmare I will hopefully never have to experience again.

Day 4

The SAALT soft cup has arrived! I am in love. I don’t even hate the stem I am quite happy with it and will be keeping it in for sure. On another note my scratches have been healed – THANK THE BLOODY LORD. No more uncomfortableness. I got the smaller version of the Saalt cup because before doing this experiment I thought I had a heavy flow, but I never filled my Lunette cup to the top line. I know for sure now that pads and tampons cannot account for those who have any sort of above average period flows, and if I leaked and it turns out I don’t have that heavy a flow, what on earth are other uterus owners going through?

Lighter flow today and the blood isn’t as “fresh” – you know what I mean. The old old lining is now shifting so I am getting to the end of my period and the blood isn’t as red. I actually quite enjoy seeing my blood in all its glory. I honestly feel like I’m getting to know my body better this way.

Day 5

I’ve got a very light flow today. I could almost get away with free-flowing today but I don’t think today is the day. The SAALT cup is really comfortable and I am so into it. Insertion and removal is easier than the Lunette cup and I don’t feel it all when it’s inside. I would 10 out of 10 recommend this to EVERYONE. I’m recommending it you. Menstrual Cups are a god send.

Day 6

Such light spotting today that I didn’t wear the cup, I’m just going to free bleed this last day since there is literally nothing, just some drops.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot more pros then I thought with a period cup and it is honestly surprising me:

  1. You can leave it in for 12 hours. This honestly has saved me. I really hate changing pads and tampons at work and this just changes everything for me. I change it when I wake up and before I go to bed and once it’s in, unless I have cramping, I forget I am on my period
  2. My vagina doesn’t dry out or feel uncomfortable like I would with tampon. One of the reasons I dislike tampons so much is that they are just overly drying of that region and I don’t think that is good for me at all
  3. The cost, over time, of a period cup is far cheaper then buying pads and tampons. On average, per period, I spend around $10-$15 on pads (night and day ones) and tampons. For one one cup, it ranges from $30 to $50. So by about 5 periods, I’ve broken even and the cost just gets smaller and smaller each period. Win win for me!
  4. This may just be specific to me, but I feel like I was “cleaner” on this period. The blood never actually left my body until I was emptying the cup, and then I just hopped into the shower.
  5. You can put the cup in before your period starts when you can feel it coming. This is amazing because it’s washed and sanitised ready for your period and putting it in a day or two early isn’t going to mess with anything down there

There were some cons though

  1. You gotta be comfortable with your body to be prepared to stick your fingers all the way up there for insertion and removal
  2. Getting used to take it in and out is a learning experience and can be frustrating. If you’re like me and you end up scratching yourself, just be careful. If it really is too much, just move to something more comfortable then a cup
  3. For the squeamish, you will see coagulated blood AND your blood clots. I find it pretty cool, but I can see how for others how this might be a turn off

All in all, I will be using my cups again. They don’t leak, comfortable and unnoticable when put in correctly. They’re better for the environment than regular pads and tampons AND some are good enough to use for 10+ years. It’s win-win situation. Also, at the end of the cup lifecycle, there are ways to dispose of it that don’t harm the environment. Check out this post here on all the ways you can dispose your cup properly.

Have you used a cup? Are you thinking about it? Maybe you’ve go other hacks for a sustainable period – let me know! I’m really curious to see what else is out there.


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