Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Moon Cup, Round Two!

A few updates for you all, now that I'm on cycle two of using the moon cup....

  • Bite the bullet and trim the pull-tab already! I finally sucked it up and snipped off less than half an inch of the pull-tab. Remember the occasional discomfort I was having on my bus ride to work? Totally gone.
  • Even though the moon cup holds an ounce of liquid and the average woman's period only produces about four ounces of blood, don't forget that there's regular vaginal discharge! And that you might not produce equal amounts of blood/discharge/whatever every day! Moral of the story: the moon cup may be super convenient, but it's not magic, so don't be like me and think you can use a cup for 18 hours straight without it overflowing. Because that's just dumb.
  • This is probably a matter of personal preference, but I would recommend always rinsing your cup (when you choose to rinse it and not just empty) in the hottest water your hands can stand. Even if the water feels relatively warm, it's definitely colder than your vagina, and you'll feel a dull ache until the cup reaches your body temperature. Not fun.
Other than my self-induced menstrual dramas, life with a moon cup has been going smoothly and I'd still highly recommend it. If I experience any catastrophes/hilarities in the coming months I'll be sure to post them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Final Thoughts

Oops, I kind of forgot to give my verdict on the moon cup!

Here's the breakdown:
  • I didn't expect it to be so easy to use. I thought it would take me at least two cycles to really get used to it and feel comfortable not using a cloth pad as a back-up, but I felt comfortable enough to wear khaki pants to work with no cloth pad by the end of this cycle.
  • That being said, it does take some getting used to. It took me a couple tries to find the position that was best for me to insert or remove the cup, but I'm sure that this is different for everyone.
  • I liked that it's something I could conceivably use while traveling without having to worry about finding a private place to wash and dry it. I also liked that I didn't need to find a private restroom to rinse it and that I didn't need to carry anything with me (unless you count using the cup as "carrying" it).
  • I didn't like the pull-tab, probably because I was too chicken to trim it and occasionally found it uncomfortable (usually on the bus on the way to work). It also become discolored at the tip, probably from coming in contact with urine. I really should trim that darn tab, huh?
  • The moon cup was really easy to clean, although there was some odor even after washing it with hot, soapy water at the end of my cycle. Okay, the odor was only noticeable because I held the cup to my nose and sniffed it, just to see. I'll probably soak it in some tea tree oil just because I'm sort of weird about things having scents even if you can only smell them if you try, but overall odor wasn't an issue.
  • The little carry bag it came in is seriously cute. Bonus points right there.
  • Supposedly it can last for many years, which is an amazingly good deal. I usually use sea sponges, which (for me -- it seems to vary by individual) only last a few cycles. And, since it lasts so long, it's a lot less waste.
Overall the moon cup was really user-friendly and effective. From what I can tell, it would be relatively easy to transition from just about any other menstrual product -- reusable or not -- to the moon cup. I'd especially recommend the cup to women who use tampons and are a little uncomfortable with the idea of using cloth pads.

Personally, I'll be continuing to use the moon cup, particularly when I'm traveling or at work. If after reading this blog you'd like to try the moon cup, GladRags offers both sizes with a one-year money-back guarantee (they also have kits that come with two pantyliners, which is a good idea for women concerned about leaking).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 6: Again, not much

Like yesterday, today's adventures in moon cupping were pretty... unadventurous. I rinsed the cup in the morning and just now when I got home. Other than that -- and when I was asking my friend about the Instead cup she tried (she doesn't recommend it) -- I pretty much forgot about it.

When I woke up, I noticed that the cup had leaked a little during the night. It wasn't enough to worry about and I'm going to chalk it up to putting the cup in after a couple glasses of wine rather than to any inherent flaw of the cup itself.

Too bad happy periods make for boring blogging.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 5: Not much

I don't have much to report today. No leakage, no discomfort. I rinsed the cup this morning when I was getting ready for work and emptied it once around 3:30 pm. As celebratory as I get about my period, it's pretty nice not to fret about it or wonder when I'm next going to get the chance to rinse my sea sponge.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Days 3 & 4:

First the story. It started to rain, as it often does in Portland, so I hurriedly went outside to pick the ripe tomatoes and jalapenos before they got doused. Inside, I happily (and obliviously) chopped jalapenos to freeze, making sure to remove the seeds. With my thumb. Did you know that jalapenos, such lovely mild little peppers, are not supposed to be chopped -- much less de-seeded -- with one's bare hands? Even if you wash them. Twice.

At first, I was fine. Then the area underneath my thumbnail began to burn. Then my face, where I had touched. Then my nose, where I had adjusted my piercing shortly after washing my hands. It took two hours of baking soda, ice, witch hazel, hand sanitizer, cold water, and much more for the burn to go away enough for me to think about other things. Toward the end of those two hours I realized that there was absolutely NO way I could empty my moon cup without gloves, which hadn't been emptied nearly all day, without possibly spreading the burn to some of my most sensitive parts.

But of course, there were no gloves to be found. Fortunately my housemate Elijah, who'd been watching this jalapeno-induced freak-out from the start, piped up with a brilliant idea: put condoms on your fingers! We have a lot of condoms in our house, thanks to a previous housemate whose sister worked for a community health organization. Less fortunately, the condoms were lubricated. I ended up managing to get the moon cup out but being completely unable to re-insert it without risking spreading the burn to my vulva. I used a cloth pad for the night and returned the moon cup the next morning.

  • The first day I wore the moon cup to work, I was pretty worried about leakage. However, the only leakage I've experienced was the first few hours after switching from cloth pad to moon cup. To make me feel safer about my first moon cup workday, I was wearing a cloth pantyliner which dealt with the minor leakage. Since then I've only used the moon cup and been fine.
  • In the mornings the moon cup is occasionally uncomfortable and I think I really need to figure out a) how to sit like a regular person and not contort myself into weird positions on the bus and b) whether I ought to cut the pull-tab. Other than the bus ride to work, I have hardly noticed the cup.
  • Being used to sea sponges, I started out emptying the cup every couple of hours and being surprised to see only about a teaspoonful of blood (the moon cup can hold a full ounce). Today I emptied it when I woke up (not much) and before I went home from work (maybe a tablespoon) and will probably do it once more before bed.
  • It's really, really nice to be able to empty the cup in a public restroom. Theoretically, I could also rinse my sea sponges in a public restroom, but it's a little less private. And, as excited as I am to talk about my menstrual cycle with most people, I don't think showing strangers my menstrual blood is really the way to go.
I just realized that I have left my acorn squash in the oven for far too long. More updates tomorrow.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day 2: Getting comfortable

It's day two of my moon cup experiment and I have to wonder -- did my period start early this month because I was so excited about giving the cup a try? My horoscope for last week was all about noticing the pull of the moon and being in touch with how the moon (and other large bigger-than-oneself influences) affect my body and soul. Maybe I was just destined to ask Diana for a moon cup this month, so that I'd have two days at home to get comfortable with its use before starting the work week.

Anyway, here are my observations from today:
  • I've been kind of crampy, which is slightly unusual. I doubt this has anything to do with using the moon cup, but usually when I feel crampy I prefer to use cloth pads so it's been a little odd having something in my vagina today. I took an ibuprofen and have been feeling better.
  • It's a lot easier (for me) to insert the cup standing rather than seated on the toilet. Removing the cup is also easier standing, although the possibility of spillage seems to increase. I've decided that I'm going to continue sitting when removing the cup, just in case.
  • This seems kind of obvious in retrospect, but, although I'm pretty familiar with the consistency of what comes out of my body when I menstruate, I expected it to be thinner in the cup. It's not. It's stretchy and fairly thick and strands can be both in the cup and above it when I take it out. This means being wary of pulling out strings of menstrual blood and normal vaginal discharge when removing the cup (also why sitting on the toilet seems to work best for removal -- any blood/mucous that comes out with the cup will fall into the toilet, rather than on your pants). I did get some on the toilet seat, but I'm chalking that up to not taking off my long sweater before heading to the bathroom and so having to do some pretty creative balancing while taking the cup out. Lesson learned.
  • Is it weird to think your menstrual blood is pretty? One reason I like sea sponges is because it gives me a chance to get up close and personal with my menstrual fluids. The cup does too, but more so. I think especially because the cup is clear silicone rather than the pale yellow of the sponges, the vibrant crimson is even more striking. It was kind of strange to be sitting on the toilet, pants around ankles and sweater balanced on one arm, checking out the gorgeously alive splash of scarlet that just came out of my body, but now I can sort of understand the appeal of painting with your own menstrual blood. Where else could you find such a perfect red?
  • The pull-tab of the cup initially felt clunky and bothersome. I was tempted to trim it but decided to wait and see if I got use to it. For the most part I don't even feel it anymore (except occasionally if I sit in a weird position) and the longer tab really helps with removal, so I think I'll leave it.
Last night I was telling my housemate Kerry about using the moon cup. She recently started using sea sponges, so there's been a lot of talk about menstruation in our house as of late. She asked me, "if you were using the moon cup and you got lost in the woods, would you drink your menstrual blood to survive?" I know you can drink your own urine in survival situations, but does anybody know about menstrual blood? Something to think about!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Day 1: Adventures in suction

I've had my moon cup in for about... 45 minutes now. I decided to insert it even though my period doesn't usually start until Monday because I noticed a pinkish tinge to the toilet paper I used this morning and figured it wouldn't hurt to get an early start on figuring out how to use the cup. Also, let's face it, I've really been looking forward to trying this out.

Putting it in was a little scary -- it seemed like it was too stiff to fold and insert -- but my fears were unfounded because once I folded it up it wasn't too difficult to push in and I realized that if the cup were any less stiff, it wouldn't be able to go in at all. I should mention that I'm using size B, which is designed for women who have not given birth.

The directions that came with the cup instructed me to give the cup a twist once inserted to help seal it in place. I tried to turn it, but had a bit of trouble getting my fingers around it enough to get a good grip. Since I wasn't really experiencing much flow, I just left it as is and hoped I'd get the hang out it before my period really started.

In those first 45 minutes, I had to pee about three times. The directions noted that if you're constipated or have a really full bladder, the moon cup can be pushed out of place and leak. I wonder if the moon cup also pushes on the bladder? Or maybe I just drank too much coffee this morning...

I shouldn't have worried about the suction. On my third trip to the bathroom I decided to take the cup out and see if there was anything in it. I pulled on the tab and to my surprise the suction was really intense! I could feel the pressure on my cervix. Fortunately I remembered that I was supposed to tilt and pull the cup to break the seal, not just pull straight out, and I managed to remove the cup with my cervix intact, although there was a little puff of air and a quiet pffffbbbt as I did, which made me laugh.

I was pleased to note that there was a little blood in the cup, along with some watery substance that I can only assume was a mixture of vaginal discharge and the water I had used to originally rinse the cup. I dumped the cup out in the toilet, wiped it out with some toilet paper, and reinserted it -- with much more ease than the first time.

Already I'm feeling prepared to use the cup next week at work, although we'll see if that changes when things really start flowing. So far, so good!

Getting started...

My name is Tracy and I am 21 years old. Like most women my age, I menstruate monthly. For the majority of my fertile years I've used disposable tampons during my monthly cycle, until last December when I purchased my first package of sea sponges. Since then, I've been a die-hard advocate of reusable menstrual products.

A lot of people are pretty grossed out by the thought of using a cloth pad or a sea sponge. I was, too -- until I realized that there really isn't anything gross about it. In fact, it's actually kind of an incredible process when you think about it. But we're raised not to think about it, just like we're raised not to think about lots of things, like why girls aren't supposed to like sports or why women still make less money than men even when they have the same job.

So it's kind of subversive to get excited about your period, and it's an act of resistance to talk about your period with your friends, and if we all start discovering that menstruation is a part of what makes being a woman cause for celebration, maybe we'll start changing things up a little bit.

That said, if you're okay with the status quo and you want to keep things as is, getting in touch with your menstrual cycle can be a good thing for you, too. Knowing how your body works when it's healthy is the first step in understanding when your body isn't functioning properly. In my experience, reusable products required me to play a more active role in understanding my own menstrual cycle. Unlike a tampon that I could quickly discard, sea sponges and cloth pads have made me take notice of the color, consistency, odor, and amount of what comes out of my vagina. Which means that if there's a change, I'll know instantly that something is different.

In addition, there's the matter of all those toxins present in most disposable products. Although tampons have only trace amounts of these carcinogens, think about how many tampons you use monthly. Multiply that by 12 for every month in the year. Now multiply that amount by the number of years you'll menstruate. That's a lot of opportunity for a trace amount of something toxic to build up in your system. And that's pretty frightening.

One last argument for reusables: the environment. Remember how many tampons you figured you're going to use in your life? Quite a few, right? Picture them in a landfill or washed up on the beach. Enough said.

Now on to the point of this blog, which, amazingly, is not to convince you that reusable menstrual products are the way to go. The point is, I have my first moon cup. Yup, it's been inserted into my vagina and is resting comfortably. My goal is to post my daily experiences for the coming week so that you can make a conscious, educated decision for yourself about your own menstruation.

A note on bias: If it's not readily apparent, I'm already pretty pro-reusables. My perspective on using a moon cup will probably be rather different from someone who has never heard of reusable menstrual products before. I'm also very open about menstruation -- just ask my housemates who get to hear all the details, whether they want to or not! -- and of course, my perspective will differ from someone for whom a monthly cycle represents three to seven days of shame.

In addition, I am somewhat involved with GladRags, one of the distributors of the moon cup. Once a week, I provide support for a group of developmentally disabled workers who package many of GladRags' products and I briefly worked for GladRags as a packager myself. Throughout this blog I may choose to link to GladRags over other distributors of the same/similar products, simply because I have experience with their products as well as their customer service. For the past year I've gotten an inside look at the way GladRags operates, and I've found that their business practices are as deserving of praise as their products. While I wholeheartedly recommend GladRags, I would not discourage anyone from checking out all of the options available.