If you’re interested in organics or sustainability, you probably have at least one friend who is a Mooncup Zealot. “My Mooncup is amazing,” Mooncup Zealot says, as you meet up for your weekly turmeric latte after aerial yoga class. “It has literally changed my life.”
“Mhmmm…” you mutter noncommittally, your mouth full of açaí & blueberry raw cheesecake. Not this again! Why does Mooncup Zealot have to be so devoted to her menstrual cup? Why can’t we just talk about something normal — like Trump or climate change — instead?
Well, dear reader, we have canvassed a section of the Mooncup-using population of Aotearoa (ie: we shared a survey on Facebook*) to discover the truth: can using a menstrual cup really be life-changing?
*Please note that while our survey was not exactly scientific, we did receive far more than 100 responses. 41% of our respondents (henceforth referred to as 'Mooncuppers') had used a Mooncup for over 5 years, while a third had used one for 2-5 years, and about a quarter had been using it for a year or less. Thanks to all our survey participants!
Does a Mooncup REALLY improve your time visiting the Red Planet?
Why we LOVE our Mooncups:
It’s usually hard to get excited about sanitary products, but Mooncup have somehow clocked it: hundreds, if not thousands, vocally advocate for their products worldwide. Our question is: why?
Well, first off, we love Mooncups because they are sustainable. A single person will use about 11,000 disposable sanitary products in a lifetime, while a Mooncup is a one-off buy. Over half our Mooncuppers said that less waste was the biggest benefit.
What’s more, Mooncups are cheap. Well, perhaps not initially (a Mooncup will set you back about NZ$50), but after 6-8 months it pays for itself. The result? We actually start saving what we would otherwise spend on tampons and pads.
Mooncups are convenient. Many of our Mooncuppers wrote about how you sometimes “forget you even have your period” at work or during the night. Many reported that they now feel able to relax when Aunt Flo visits, be it at work, home, bed, at the beach or abroad.
If you’re not a fan of tampons, a Mooncup may give you something to smile about during your period. “No more horrible sandpaper itchiness from tampons! Yay!” exclaimed one Mooncupper. A few even reported that they experienced reduced pain, cramps and yeast infections, which is AMAZING.
For a few respondents, Mooncups revolutionised their red dot specials, allowing a better understanding of their bodies and menstrual cycles. Like an extremely eccentric superhero, one Mooncupper even used their time worshipping the blood moon for good, writing, “I can feed my blood [to] the plants hehe.”
Why we’re not sure about Mooncups…
There is no perfect method of dealing with getting the painters in, and, just like tampons and pads, the Mooncup does have its downsides.
For example: 5 years ago, I went on a week-long trip to Tasmania to stay with an activist camp in the rainforest. Imagine epic tented structures, platforms in trees, and really elaborate composting toilets systems. As fate would have it, it was my time to surf the crimson wave. A long drive from the nearest store, I was delighted to have packed my trusty Mooncup. But, when a late-night call of nature had me visiting the loo in the darkest night, there was some fumbling, and I dropped my Mooncup into the composting toilet. There was no way I was sticking my hand in to fish it out, so I shamefacedly left my Mooncup for dead, ran back to my tent, and used up a lot of toilet paper for the reminder of my stay visiting the red planet. As for the abandoned Mooncup, it’s probably lurking in a mystery vege garden as we speak.
Almost half of our Mooncuppers advised that using a Mooncup does take a bit of getting used to. There’s the challenge of getting it UP there, and then there’s the challenge of getting it OUT. One Mooncupper wrote,” I found removing it really difficult the first few times, but DON'T PANIC, it just takes practice!” Another described five minutes of sheer horror while being unable to remove it, and, as a result, never using it again.
Other issues? Leakage. When they’ve got a bad case of rusty pipes (read: heavy days, heavy flows, or night-time bleeding) many Mooncuppers wear pads as back-up. And it can be uncomfortable: you need to cut off the stem to the right length (Not too long! Not too short!) not to snag your delicate bits. And, if your Mooncup doesn’t fit correctly, it can be painful. “After [my] second baby the large size was too small”, reported one respondent, “had to strengthen up [my pelvic floor] before it worked again.” Others also found their Mooncups too big or small or just not right.
While no one else reported leaving their Mooncup for dead in a Tasmanian rainforest, a few of our Mooncuppers had also experienced difficulties out and about. One Mooncupper pre-plans all excursions during that time of the month, bringing a water bottle to rinse their Mooncup if caught in a toilet stall without a basin. Another wrote, “A few splattery-removal moments. And that time I dropped it in the toilet.” Let's just hope it wasn’t composting...
Advice to Mooncup newbies
Our Mooncuppers shared some great tips! Here are some of our favourites:
- Do your research! 'Mooncup' is just one brand of menstrual cup. Different brands have different sizes, lengths and shapes, so if one doesn’t fit or it’s uncomfortable “be prepared to pay for and try a few different options.”
- There’s lots of advice and tips out there, so make sure you utilize them! Mooncup’s website, advice from friends, blogs, more blogs and folding instructions. There are even videos on Youtube about how to insert them correctly.
- If you’re having trouble knowing where your Mooncup should be sitting, it can be helpful to insert it before bedtime. It seems to find a comfortable place overnight and you’re all set up and ready to go by morning.
- Because using a Mooncup can be difficult at the start, please “give yourself time to learn how to use it before deciding it isn’t for you.” Extra bonus points: “Use it once or twice without your period before you use it during your period, then you don't worry about fit and comfort!” One Mooncupper even suggested using coconut oil as a lubricant, to slip it in with greater ease. If you try this, let us know how it goes.
- Be careful how short you cut the stem of the Mooncup. Leave it longish and gradually shorten the stem so that it’s short enough not to snag, but long enough to aid removal.
- For youngin’s who have just started menstruating, our Mooncuppers suggested using tampons for a while before moving to Mooncups. Said one, “My daughters both used them [tampons] for a year until they felt good about a Mooncup.”
The verdict: are Mooncups really life-changing?
78% of our respondents answered YES to the question “Would you say your Mooncup was life-changing?” As one Mooncupper put it, ““I thought I'd be making a sacrifice in convenience and cleanliness for an environmental and cost gain. I was wrong. I'm happier on every count.”
Mooncups don’t work for everyone. But for those it does work for, it really can be life-changing and it really can drastically improve your monthly visit to the Weasley’s*. We’re sorry, but this means that Mooncup Zealot is probably right and you should probably buy the next round of Raw Sprouted Muesli with Coconut Yoghurt. Oh, and maybe get yourself a Mooncup.
*Okay, I made this one up. Apologies J.K. Rowling!
Have you got Mooncup tips or tricks that I've missed? Want to suggest another creative euphemisms for getting your period? Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org