So over the Christmas season and in the New Year, I finally took the plunge and bought a menstrual cup and cloth pads. The cup is from Mooncup and the cloth pads from a company on Etsy called Natrually Lady.
So there’s growing awareness about more eco-friendly period products and being someone who wants to do my bit, I felt changing up my period products was a significant way for me to do that.
I’d been umm-ing and ahh-ing about making the change for a while, but wasn’t sure about going ahead in case it didn’t work for me. But I’ll be honest with you, the eco-anxiety outweighed any kind of blasé take on these things for me. I tried organic cotton pads and tampons from Naturacare and KIND Organic, as they are technically more biodegradable. While it made me feel better, the absorbency wasn’t all that great.
So if I was going through these more than my usual pads and tampons, and at £2+ a box, I would be burning a really big hole in my pocket. So yeah, that wasn’t going to work out. So during my dinner break at my former job over the Christmas season, I was in Boots and thought ‘Fuck it!’ and bought a menstrual cup. Then I bought the cloth pads a few weeks later. The pads I bought were eight large sized pads, designed for heavy flows *raises hand* which I have.
THE MENSTRUAL CUP
I won’t lie to you, this was difficult to navigate at first. I got the size B in the Mooncup, meaning I am under 30 and have not given birth vaginally. The cup on first sight, I thought would be pretty easy to insert. I have sex and my boyfriend’s penis is bigger than this cup, so it should be smooth sailing right?
Well…not exactly. I tried a few folds and a whole load of lube, and eventually, I managed to get the hang of it, whilst Captain Morgan-ing it in the bathroom. I’ve found that the tulip fold (also known as a punchdown fold) is so far what works best for me, and manually unfolding it once inserted. Given the my flow is quite heavy, usually I don’t need lube. However, when first trying the cup, my period that month was very light, so lube can help! I also cut off all the stem. I cut off to three little nodules, but it was quite irritating against my labia. So off with the stem!
It took a bit of time to get used to it sitting lower than a tampon. At first, I inserted the cup a bit deeper for good measure (yes, typical British approach I know…) but quickly realised I didn’t need to. One for the sake of comfort and making sure it had suctioned properly to my vaginal walls, and second, well…there’s only so much squatting a pushing your girl can do before it just gets ridiculous.
I have leaked a little, but not a major amount. Keeping in mind with period time, one’s vaginas and vulvas are well, bloody. I know, big shock. So sometimes I can’t really tell if I’m leaking. But generally, when I’m leaking, I will definitely know if the tissue I’m wiping with in the bathroom is looking more bloody than usual with the cup in. So sometimes it needs a bit of readjusting. Also a quick disclaimer: squeamishness goes out the window pretty quickly. When you’re inserting, taking out, emptying and cleaning your cup etc. there will be blood.
For taking it out, I squat. Maybe a bit of pushing using my muscles if needed, and find it best to change in the shower. When not in the shower, I change it in the bathroom, clean off with water and reinsert. I tried using a gentle soap every time as also instructed, but finds that can cause me irritation down below. At the end of using the cup for my cycle, I clean with Simple scentless soap and sterilise, using a sterilising tablet and water in a jug specifically used for sterilising my cup.
THE CLOTH PADS
These pads were delivered very fast and the seller themselves really keeps you in the loop with what’s going on. They are open to questions if you have any so I definitely recommend them as a seller, as I have so far had a really good experience with them.
The first thing I noticed and loved about the cloth pads I have, is how comfortable they are. In comparison to generic pads, oh my goodness these cloth pads are a blessing! Also, I didn’t anticipate just how large these pads were though. They definitely cover all the gusset in my pants and then some.
Which is good for me, because I am a back bleeder (I tend to bleed more towards the back of my pad) however, wearing anything jersey-related would make them a bit visible. So while I LOVE these pads, I will be getting the smaller pads for moderate to heavy flow, as they are not as long and a bit more jersey style clothes friendly.
How they attach are with popper buttons. You place the pad in your pants, and attach with the popper buttons around the outside of the gusset. Because they don’t have adhesive like generic pads, be prepared for them to move a bit and figure out how to tackle that. I’d say the more fitted your pants, the better chance of them not moving around as much. I use a short-style panty most, if not all, the time, so for the most part it’s ok. However there have been cases of ‘capsizing’, where it flips over. So watch out for that.
The level of absorbency is something I was actually really impressed with. Normally I’d go through around four, maybe five, night time pads a day. With these it’s usually around two, maybe three at most. I store my soiled pads in a wet bag that came with them as part of my purchase. When removing them, you can fold the sides on top of the other, securing it in place with the poppers on the wings of the pad, not even having to touch the soiled parts at all. Pretty neat!
For cleaning, I follow the instructions that were given on the leaflet delivered with the pads. I rinse as much blood out as I can in the sink with cold water, and then put them in the washing machine on a 30 wash, without fabric conditioner as advised. After spinning, I then hang them to air dry or place them on a rack on a radiator, being careful not to place the poppers near the radiator so as not to warp their shape.
Then away we go ’til the next cycle!
I’m still getting the hang of using them, three cycles in, so be patient with yourself if you decide to try these kinds of products. Find what works for you. I personally feel a lot better using these, as right now with lockdown I don’t have to worry about getting sanitary products from the shop. Plus, it’s help to alleviate some climate change related anxiety I have.
I hope this has been informative for anyone interested 🙂