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Why I Started Using A Menstrual Cup

When I was around the age of 13 I got my first period at school — A nightmare of any preteen. Thankfully, my gym teacher was able to offer a variety of pad options. This was my first introduction to menstrual products and within a few years, I began using tampons as an alternative. This is an experience shared by most young girls and teens in North America. 


It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I learned there were other options. 

As an adult, a friend of mine told me that she used a menstrual cup instead. It was revolutionary and it changed my monthly visit from Aunt Flow forever. 




Savings from buying a menstrual cup


My friend, we’ll call her “Jenny,” had pointed out that each month women were forced to spend money nearly every month, simply to care for their own feminine needs. I agreed that it was a bit ridiculous, considering it was a fee only placed on the shoulders of those who were born female.


For Jenny, a single menstrual cup had completely alleviated the need to purchase a box of pads or tampons every month or two. However, for her, it appeared the peace of mind it provided was nearly invaluable. She no longer had to worry if she had remembered to pick up a box of tampons on her most recent trip to the store or if she still had a few pads stashed away under the sink at home. 


If maintained, a menstrual cup can last years, ensuring that the purchase pays for itself in less than a year and continues saving you money long after that.


Feminine Health


The idea of a menstrual cup was completely foreign to me and so before making the switch, I decided to speak with my doctor. I was lucky enough to have a female doctor at the time and she appeared to be quite informed on the topic.

I can still remember what she said to me. 


“The vagina is like a sponge, it absorbs everything.”

This one sentence changed the way I viewed menstrual products and their ability to directly impact my health. 


She went on to explain that most common products on the market, such as disposable tampons and pads, were often made of synthetic cotton-like materials that were bleached a stark white colour we are so used to seeing. Although the snow-white colour gave the appearance of a hygienic product, something safe for use in such an intimate area, that wasn’t always the case. 


The synthetic material often contained numerous chemicals that seeped into the body through the lining of the vagina, sometimes causing irritation for some users. 


“Irritation?” I asked confused.


She explained that as most women and teens had never used any other products, they often associated the irritation with their period instead of realizing that the tampons and pads could be causing the discomfort. The chemicals responsible could even take years to exit the body. As a woman who cares about her health, it was utterly appalling to learn that I had been negatively impacting my own health without even realizing it and on a monthly basis.


Still, there was more.


All young girls are warned to change their pads or tampons frequently to avoid a life-threatening condition called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). My doctor explained that the cotton-like material was a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and was the leading cause of TSS. 


For me, the idea that I could care for my feminine health without worrying for my own health was absolutely mind-blowing. I had spent years living with anxiety about TSS and one simple change could lower the risk. 


Although I had always avoided scented pads and tampons, my doctor explained that the fragrances in these menstrual products can even throw off the natural pH balance in your vagina, even leading to conditions like bacterial vaginosis. 


Environmental Impact


When I was in my teens I began considering my own ecological footprint. I stopped using plastic water bottles and opted for reusable ones. Prior to the ban on single-use items in Canada, I had begun bringing my own cloth bags to the grocery store and swapped out plastic straws for metal ones. Still, I had never considered the impact my period had on the environment. 


I often used roughly 15 to 30 tampons each month, which meant that I was contributing between 180 and 360 tampons to landfills every year — And I didn’t even realize it.

Making the switch to a reusable menstrual cup began to quickly seem like the smarter, more eco-friendly option — But there was one final consideration before I could be sure.



Protection Comparison


On every box of tampons I had ever read, they encouraged users to not wait more than eight hours before changing their tampons. While menstrual cups could be worn for just as long, some even claimed they could provide protection for up to 12 hours. Even more surprisingly, many of them could hold more than the average regular tampon could absorb. 


Most women are aware that they can safely use the washroom without removing their tampons. This holds true with menstrual cups too, but I no longer needed to hold the string out of the way when I did.


Use and Hygiene


I’d like to make it clear that I’m sharing what works for me. However, readers are encouraged to reference the manufacturer’s instructions regarding safe use and best hygiene practices.


How I Use My Menstrual Cup


Inserting a menstrual cup for the first time may seem intimidating but the truth is that with the Lily Cup Compact, Size A it’s actually just as easy as inserting a tampon — But with more options! 

New users are encouraged to explore different fold techniques, to determine what works for them. My preferences are the Punch Down Fold and the C Fold.


How To Insert:
  • With freshly clean hands, I simply fold your menstrual cup using my preferred method.

  • For me, I find it easiest to insert similar to how you insert a tampon when seated with your legs apart. However, new users can explore other positions, including standing with one leg lifted.

  • After relaxing, I simply insert my menstrual cup, with the stem pointing down, at an angle.

  • I then squeeze the base, not the stem, and rotate the cup to help create a seal. I then give a gentle tug to ensure the cup is in place and that it won’t leak throughout the day.

  • It’s important to note that when inserted correctly you should not feel the menstrual cup at all!


How I Clean My Menstrual Cup;
  • Each time I remove and empty my menstrual cup, I clean it with a mild soap or purpose-made cleaner and warm water if possible. When that is not an option I wipe down the menstrual cup with toilet paper prior to reinsertion.

  • Before your first use and at the end of each period I fully submerge the menstrual cup in water and boil it for roughly eight minutes. I do this in a small designated cooking pot. Alternatively, when travelling I opt for sterilizing tablets designed for baby bottles which can be done privately and without the use of a kitchen stove.


Why I Chose The Lily Cup


I picked the Lily Cup Compact, Size A as it suited my needs the best. The Lily Cup is made of 100% medical-grade silicone and because of this it thankfully doesn’t leach any nasty chemicals into the body. 


In particular, I really liked that it could be folded down to a compact disk while still holding more than a regular tampon can absorb. It even came with a hard protective case, making it ideal for storing it away in between periods and while travelling. The protective case has even been designed with a few small holes to aid in airflow and breathability.


For me, making the switch to a menstrual cup made the most sense for me and it’s allowed me to enjoy the same peace of mind my friend Jenny told me about. After using the Lily Cup for over three years, I’m honestly happy I did and my only regret is that I didn’t make the change sooner. 

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