It’s that time of the year to discuss that time of the month. Recently, I got to thinking about how wasteful a woman’s menstrual cycle can be, between the tampon and pad production, use, and disposal. So I decided to put an end to this superfluous circle by getting a menstrual cup.
Was it worth it? In short; YES.
There is a lot to rave about when it comes to the menstrual cup, and the environmental impacts are just the beginning. Did you know that studies show that the grand total of disposable menstrual waste created by the average female throughout their lifetime is anywhere between 200 and 300 pounds?! (you can calculate your personal waste here) For another, you can leave a menstrual cup in for up to 12 hours, which is extraordinarily helpful for those whose work makes a constant tampon change difficult. Not only that, but the menstrual cup is light on your wallet – according to Treehugger, the average woman who menstruates for 40 years is likely to save around a couple thousand dollars over their lifetime by making the switch!
Another fantastic selling point is absence of chemicals in the menstrual cup, unlike those that can be found in pads and tampons. As it turns out, these disposable products are often teeming with toxins, and are bleached with a chlorine dioxide that can turn into a harmful dioxin byproduct. This dioxin can have adverse side effects not only in women, but also in the environment as well. Thus, by using an alternative to disposables you are positively impacting both your body and the environment around you.
Still, here are some things to keep in mind before taking the leap:
I would equate trying out the menstrual cup to learning how to ride a bike; it is uncomfortable and unnatural at first, but once you get used to it, it’s smooth sailing. The menstrual cup seems bulky and is difficult to insert at first, and figuring out if the “seal” has actually formed is equally tricky. My first attempt at removing the cup was also disastrous, and a pro tip I later discovered is that instead of tugging at the stem of the cup, you should “pinch the base and pull.”
Something else to note is that cleaning the cup during removals involves running it under water, something that is just not going to happen in a public, multi-stall restroom. Luckily, the cup doesn’t need to be removed for 12 hours, but if you do find yourself in this situation, there are menstrual-cup-to-go-wipes that you can buy.
All in all, buying a menstrual cup was a great decision. It is amazing to think about the hundreds and hundreds of pounds of trash that can be diverted, just by using one small, silicone cup!
Written by Teddi Shapiro, class of 2019