Periods, it’s all part of growing up for a girl. Every month it’s the same: stomach cramps, acne, bloating, excessive munchies… all accompanied by the fact that you are bleeding out from between your legs continuously for a week. And the worst thing is that the options for dealing with your period are not very earth-friendly or body-friendly. Both (non-reusable) pads and tampons are one-time-only use, creating a bagful of waste every month. What’s more, both of these can expose women to the risks of thrush infection or of toxic shock syndrome. And sanitary products are not cheap! Tampons are still considered a “non-essential” “luxury item” in the UK, making them subject to VAT. So half of Britain is being taxed for the fact that they are born as a woman… (The sexism never seems to end.)
So I decided to search for a waste-free, non-harmful solution to periods. What I discovered through recommendations of friends was the reusable, silicon menstrual cup. These have actually been around since the sixties but have only recently become on trend, with the first silicon “Mooncup” manufactured in the UK. Since then, there are many brands that have surfaced, all of which have their own perks and styles. From all of these, I decided to use the Ruby Cup (which you can buy here: www.ruby-cup.com).
I chose the Ruby Cup for several reasons. It has two different sizes (small and medium) and several different colours, and it also comes in “sister packs”, which was great for me and my twin! More importantly, the Ruby Cup is a great mission to provide sanitary products for girls in less economically developed areas. For every one Ruby Cup bought, another is donated to a girl in Kenya who would otherwise not have access to sanitary products. This allows her to manage her period as part of daily life, and also allows her to go to school and not fall behind in her studies every month because of it. It is ideas and actions like these that are helping to create global equality for women, and this is something that I strongly believe should be supported.
I used it for the first time this week and decided to review it without the bias or vacuum horror stories found on other websites. My overall conclusion is that I like the Ruby Cup a lot and, once I get used to it a bit more, I look forward to making another aspect of my life waste-free and healthier.
1) Insertion takes some getting used to…
The first thing that surprised me was how big the Ruby Cup was, especially since I ordered the small one! To insert the cup, it is folded into a C shape, and then inserted using your thumb and forefinger. For a fairly small girl like me I was highly doubtful that I would be able to get it in, but with the right angle and a bit of muscle clenching it does fit. It hangs lower than a tampon does and the tail at the end can stick out of your vagina. This can be cut off if it causes discomfort, however I have left mine attached as the cup does seem to move further inwards as you wear it.
2) Don’t believe the horror stories!
One reason that put me off buying a Ruby Cup until now was the terrifying tales that people were posting all over the internet about cups getting stuck inside the vagina due to the vacuum created. This vacuum is naturally formed when the cup is inserted and holds it in place. But in truth, it is very unlikely that the cup will get stuck in this way if you use it properly. It is very easy to remove the cup: by squeezing the base of the Ruby Cup and pushing your muscles down there, it slides right out. The only difficulty I find is getting a grip on the cup itself, especially if I have had it in for a while and it has slid further up. I also haven’t had any problems with leakage whilst the cup was in.
3) There is some discomfort.
When it is inside, you can barely feel it, and often I forget I am wearing it! However during this first period that I have used it for, I was unable to wear it for the whole 5 days, as I felt some discomfort around the entrance when I was trying to put it in over consecutive days. This I reckon that I shall get used to, but this time, when I felt uncomfortable, I switched to using a pad until the pain resided. Other people I have spoken to who have used their cups for longer reported that they feel very little pain from this, so I’m sure it gets better with experience!
4) So easy to clean!
What I love about the Ruby Cup is that it is very easy to clean and disinfect. If you have a sink nearby or are at home, the cup can easily be washed out. If not, you can just clean the cup out with a tissue. One thing that can be quite shocking is the volume of blood in the cup. Remember, an average woman produces one egg cup full of blood a day when she is on her period. Normally this is absorbed by pads or tampons but with the cup it just collects in the centre. So don’t be surprised if there is more blood than you expect! (And another warning: don’t hold the cup by the stick at the bottom, as it is likely to make a mess…) When you have finished your period, put the Ruby Cup in boiling water for five minutes to sterilise it and keep it in the little bag that it comes in… until next month!
I highly recommend investing in a menstrual cup that you think will suit you best. They are very hygienic and produce minimal waste (one cup will last you about ten years! That is a lot of money you are NOT spending on tampons…). Also, there are companies out there, such as Ruby Cup, that help to support communities with materials and education for women’s health. Of course it might feel a little strange at first, but it is a small change that will really make a big difference environmentally and economically later on.
For more information, head to www.ruby-cup.com!