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To cup or not to cup: Common questions about menstrual​ cups answered!

I did it! I took one for the team and road tested the menstrual​ cup and am reporting back to 1 Million Women to hopefully provide some answers to all those tricky little questions lurking in your minds.

Last month I wrote about some of the powerful environmental reasons to switch to a menstrual cup.

The story actually begins last year when I attempted to make my life more planet-friendly from top to bottom. I went a little crazy finding alternatives for life's everyday activities from cleaning products and biodegradable bamboo "paper towels," to reusable travel cutlery and chemical free makeup.

After getting through most of my toiletries cupboard, I came to the drawer filled with tampons and panty liners and quickly slammed it shut, this was one area that I could not for the lack of a better word 'green.'

However, after a trip to my local eco-store, I found the diva cup. I picked it up, holding it in my hand and thought, "you have got to be kidding me". However, after a little pep talk to myself, I bought it. I promptly came home, shoved it in the back of my toiletries cupboard, and proceeded to use tampons for the next year. Solid waste of $45, Sarah.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago and my dear friend Katie messages me, "Hey environmental girl, you'll dig this, menstrual cups, I'm using one and its great". Noooooooo! I thought to myself, this damn cup has come back to haunt me!

I called Katie pronto so I could ask her the 100 questions I had that were not answered on the instruction booklet. This is what made me take the plunge, having a dear friend talk me through all the weird stuff gave me the courage to give it a go.

So, I am going to do the same for all ya'll.

Here is a little Q&A that hopefully tackles some of the stuff that we are all really thinking when it comes to the dilemma of "to cup or not to cup."

[Image: JuJu cup]

So how on earth do you get it in?

Well, frankly the first couple goes are laughable. Fold and bend, squeeze and twist and fail! However if you are comfortable with your body and are patient you'll find what works for you. It takes a few tries, but I promise it gets easier. I think we all remember our first tampon insertion, pretty weird and complicated but it too became a piece of cake.

Is it comfortable?

It seems impossible that it could be comfortable, but I am here to tell you, it must be magic because you cannot tell it is there. The soft nature of the silicon means it moves with you. You can jump, hop and skip down the street without noticing it. I 100% notice a tampon/find them more uncomfortable than a cup, which I often forget it is even in.

Does it leak?

The short answer is no. As someone with heavy periods coupled with endometriosis, trust me when I say I have my fair share of heavy periods. But I have experienced far more leaks with tampons. I am constantly surprised, even on my most heavy days, that it is not overflowing or leaking. Of course, like most things, you would have to give it a try to be sure if it is right for you and your body.

Getting it out, total mess/nightmare/crime scene?

Nope! It is all about the angle and the pinch. You pinch the bottom of the cup (this breaks the seal as such) and then pull it out slowly at the same angle as your body so nothing spills. Sure, if it was really full you might spill some, but I am always doing it over the toilet or sometimes in the shower so it's no biggie.

That all sounds fine but I can't possibly use this when I am out and about!

Well, the fact that it can stay in for 8 - 12 hours means you often do not have to. If I get up and take care of it all before heading to work then I do not have to worry about a thing all day until I get home and can do the empty, wash and rinse business in the comfort of my home. Sure, there have been a few times where I have been out and needed to, but in these circumstances popping into an accessible toilet or just tipping it out into the toilet, wiping with a bit of tissue and popping it back in has been fine. I would suggest giving it a go for the first time when you don't have to be anywhere but home or work so you can be comfortable.

It's unhygienic, gross!

Is it? There is nothing toxic or unhygienic about period blood. Touching it will not ruin your life. Here are the rules to using the cup:

Make sure your hands are clean. Done, this already applies to the insertion of tampons.

Make sure you have clean water to wash it. Luckily we have clean tap water in Australia. (Check this if living elsewhere)

Sterilize it. This is simple, once you have finished your period and given it a quick rinse, boil it in a pot that you have designated to your cup and store it in its bag until next month. The nature of the medical grade silicon means that it does not hold any smell or colour. After years of use it can discolour, but really that's no biggie. They have no expiration date so if you get 10 years out of one, that is pretty solid.

I hope this helps answer some questions that anyone might have. I think the key thing to remember is that maybe it is not for everyone.

Maybe it hurts no matter what you do, maybe it leaks when everyone said it wouldn't and maybe it is something that you just flat out don't want to do. The best thing is, that is fine!

There is no shame or judgement for what personal decisions you make about your own body. It is just another option, one that people who are invested in reducing their carbon footprint might want to try. I never knew they existed until a year ago, so spreading the word about them is in no way meant to make anyone feel bad for not using them, it is merely some info that you can choose to investigate or ignore.

I love that I no longer have to run to the store to buy tampons, or worry about the chemicals used, or throw away a bunch of plastic and cotton, but that is just me. My best friend flat out refuses and does not want to know anything more about the cup, but guess what? I still love her and her tampons all the same.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

READ THIS NEXT: Powerful Environmental Reasons To Switch To A Menstrual Cup

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