The lunette menstrual cup: a review
With your favourite receptionist, Elly.
If you have indeed had what I can only assume is the immense pleasure of chatting to me recently, you may be aware that I have found a product that I am raving about: The Lunette menstrual cup. If the thought of this is too much for you, I ask you to hold your opinion a little while longer, as I myself turned up my nose upon first hearing the words “Menstrual cup” uttered. How glad I am that I kept an open mind!
We’ll start by describing just what a menstrual cup is. Made as early as the 1930’s, Menstrual cups have been popular in the US and Europe for many decades. The cup itself is made from medical grade silicon, and because it is not porous (like a tampon); it works with the natural anti-bacterial environment of your vagina to keep clean. It will not promote bacterial growth the way a tampon does, so the risk of TSS (toxic Shock Syndrome) is greatly reduced. In fact, there has never been a reported case of TSS being linked to a menstrual cup. You can wear the cup up to 12 hours, if your flow permits.
It is thought that the push for a reusable, earth friendly cup has not been popular due to the obvious lack of profit to be made – I’ve read blogs from women who have had their cup 10 years. What tampon or menstrual pad company wants you to buy a product once and not 16 products every period?
And this brings us to one of the biggest selling points of the cup: You only need one. Cups will set you back in the region of $60, and I can tell you that being a sufferer of abnormal, heavy, and long periods it has already made its money back, and then some. I haven’t had to purchase bulky, uncomfortable pads in 3 cycles, and I cannot explain how happy this has made me. Because you only need one, your impact on the earth is so much less than using disposable, one use cotton (or other substances) products. There is no packaging, no plastic coatings, no plastic backing, no strips to pull off that get stuck to your shoe or cling to your skirt (we’ve all had that happen at work, right? A nice little piece of paper basically saying “I CAME FROM A PAD!” statically clinging to our thigh?). No strings. No wings. No discomfort.
I should also add in here that a lot of menstrual products come complete with a nice helping of chemicals like bleach. And we put these in one of the most sensitive and permeable areas of our body. Treated cotton tampons, full of plastic are sold without much in the way of testing as to levels of chemical absorption. Medical grade silicone, used in the cups, is the same material they make various surgical implants out of (pacemakers, heart valves etc) and can stay in your body pretty much forever without being broken down.
So, how do you use a cup? Imagine what it’s like to put in a tampon, and you’re pretty close. There are a variety of videos on YouTube showing how to fold your cup for insertion: the method will depend on the individual. Personally, I fold down two sides in on itself to create a kind of point – feel free to ask and I will show you on the display models in store (The ‘push down’ fold in the diagram). Because the material is so pliable, you essentially fold it down to the size of about a super tampon or so. You fold it, insert it, wait for the ‘opening’ feeling (One of the only negatives about the cup I can say is sometimes it opens as you’re trying to insert. Annoying!) And you’re good to go! After a few hours (this will vary depending on the heaviness of your flow: I tend to change it every 4 at my heaviest and about 7 or 8 at my lightest) you use your pelvic muscles to gently push down until you can feel the bottom of the cup: Pinch and pull. You then empty your cup, rinse, and re-insert. Too easy!
Some people may be grossed out by the fact that you can see your blood in the cup. I have to say that I was a bit dubious about how this would feel, after reading on blogs that it made some people feel so much more connected with their bodies, their cycles, and empowered their femininity. I would totally agree now. The cup is less ‘gross’ than a tampon – if any clots are present they are discreetly captured with the rest of the blood, not stuck on the outside of the tampon or pad. There is no mess in public restrooms, no reaching for the sanitary bin and no blood spatters on the inside of the toilet bowl or bin. I find that seeing the amount you are bleeding is a really good indication of how your cycle is going – You know exactly how much blood you’re losing, and it gives you a much more personal feel for your menses. (Although that sounds strange, it is actually somewhat comforting.)
The cups are also perfect for women trying to conceive or are having gynaecological problems. Because the cup is smooth sided and doesn’t suck any of the precious moisture from your vagina, you can wear it when you’re not bleeding – so women who need to measure other vaginal secretions can use the cup without any discomfort. In this same way it’s also fine toward the end of your period, while you may start to bleed less or spot. If you wear the cup whilst spotting then you will never leak or spot on yourself when you think you’ve got nothing left. This reason right here is why I personally cannot live without my cup.
You may be a bit worried about having to put a cup all the way in the way you would a tampon. Truth is, the cup sits so much lower in your vagina it’s nothing like inserting a tampon. I personally hate tampons, I find them uncomfortable and all ‘round icky – the mere thought of them is like nails on a chalkboard. The cup, however, is nothing like a tampon on insertion. If you want to demonstrate to yourself where the cup sits, make an “o” with your thumb and second finger. This is your vaginal opening. Now, from the bottom put your other index finger into the hole. This is generally how far up you need to push a tampon. Now, imagine the cup sitting right at the opening of the hole. See the difference? Instead of pushing in as far as your uterus, extending from the top of the finger, the cup sits comfortably just over the opening of the vagina. I’ll show you some pictures to help illustrate.
(pictures won’t work in the blog: Contact us on Facebook to ask for the article)
I think I’ve covered most of the basics here, and as you can see, every point I make is another reason I love my cup. Not only do I feel I’m doing the environment a favour, but I’m doing myself a favour too. ONE NOTE OF CAUTION: Don’t wash your cup in anti-bacterial wash. Don’t do it. You’ll get thrush. I learned the hard way, and I even made sure to rinse what I thought was any trace of any wash off. Best thing is to rinse it between insertion and re-insertion and boil it for a few minutes between your cycles. I’ve read blogs of women who have been using their cup for 10 years or more; if you look after it, it will surely last a while. If you don’t feel that you want to use a cup for 10 years, changing it every 1-3 years will still save you a bucket load of cash, not to mention the earth.
Do yourself a favour. I promise you won’t regret it.
For any other questions, tips or tricks please don’t hesitate to ask Elly at reception at anytime. You can reach me by email if you like, at Rosalba@albatherapies.com.au – just put “for Elly” in the title. There is also HEAPS of information on the net – blogs, product websites and youtube videos.