"Over 14 billion tampons, applicators and pads end up in landfills every year."
Can you imagine what that mess looks like? 14,000,000,000 blood-soaked tampons, applicators, and pads. And then I think of all the diseases that are passed through blood sitting there in those piles. How many resources went into making all those disposables and how long it will take them to degrade back into the soil amongst the piles of trash. Then I think of the houses that are built on top of old landfills, the new homeowners not even aware of what is lurking under their soil. This chain of thought can go on and on, but suffice it to say that this is not a pretty picture in any sense of the word, environmental, health, or otherwise. Once it was brought to my attention (because, really, who starts off thinking of the impacts of all our daily actions), I had to do something. Here's how it all started for me.
A few years back, my interest was peaked when a new friend casually mentioned a menstrual cup in conversation. Being what I'd consider a typical woman in today's society, I felt too embarrassed to inquire any further. Of course, the instant I arrived home, I couldn't help but look up the product to see what it was all about. This was the beginning of an amazing change in my life.
You see, as a woman, I had already been searching for years to find the perfect solution - a miracle pad or tampon shall we say - but nothing ever seemed to be comfortable AND effective. Tampons always seemed to painfully dry me out, while pads were smelly and noisy (on more than one occasion, in a very quiet room, I had heard my disposable pad's plastic backing crinkle loudly and had hoped no one else knew what the sound was). Basically, it all made that one week a month much more exhausting and stressful than I really felt it should be. I all but forgot the hassles in the weeks between cycles and on week 4, the search began again. And then there it was, on the screen in front of me, a new possibility I'd never heard of or seen before...a silicone or latex cup that sits up inside the vagina and is emptied into the toilet when full. Intriguing, but it sounded messy.
In reality, it was actually a lot cleaner and more comfortable than I could've imagined. And so I had at last found the perfect products for a happier period: a menstrual cup and cloth pads!
There are many brands and styles of reusable menstrual products, but for this review, I tried out The Keeper Moon Cup ($37 US). The moon cup is the silicone version, although they do offer a natural latex version as well. To insert the cup, you simply press your thumb into the side of the ring to fold it in half and insert it. Once inserted, it opens up inside of the vagina and stays put until you pull it out by the neck. Here is a photo of what it looks like when folded before insertion.
The Keeper Moon Cup fit quite comfortably and I couldn't feel it, except for the neck, which was just a bit too long for my preference. Luckily, it is easy to trim the neck with scissors to the length that is most comfortable for you, so this doesn't pose a problem. (note: it is not recommended to cut off more than half of the stem, otherwise it can be difficult to remove the cup) In comparison to my other menstrual cup, The Diva Cup (shown below right), the Keeper Moon Cup holds the tiniest amount less as it is a bit shorter and does not include ounce measurements inside as the Diva Cup does. Both fit in the palm of your hand and come with a discrete carrying case. However, as far as flexibility and comfort, they are both equal. The Keeper Moon Cup is made in the USA of clear silicone, while it's competitor is made in Canada of opaque silicone. I really do like the option of the natural gum latex Keeper cup as well for those without latex allergies, since latex is biodegradable and able to be sustainably produced.
When the cup is full, you simply rinse it out and reinsert. If you are worried about overflow, although I have to say that my flow on the brink of hemorrhage still allows me to empty this only once every 6 hours, you can simply wear an organic bamboo/cotton/wool cloth pad for protection (Fussybutt is my favorite #1-recommended brand)!
I urge every woman to try these alternative options for at least 2 cycles. You may be surprised to learn that there is no odor, the mess and stress is less, and it improves the quality of your life as well as the planet! Once you use a menstrual cup or cloth pads, you'll never go back! They are superior in comfort, ease, cost, eco-factors, and all around health!