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Menstrual Cups
A must for all adventurous ladies!

Pictured is a MeLuna Medium Mini (no longer available) with ball tip

I've been using menstrual cups for over ten years. They are the best feminine product ever, and I think every menstruating woman should own one.

A menstrual cup is a critical piece of gear for any adventurous woman, but more than that, menstrual cups are beneficial for all menstruating women and the environment.

I never go anywhere without mine, and it is such a relief to know that I just need this one item- no worrying about finding tampons in remote areas of foreign countries. No worries about find places to dispose of used products. This tiny cup is all I need.

What is it?
A menstrual cup is a small, bell shaped piece of silicone or rubber that is inserted into the vagina. It holds menstrual fluid instead of absorbing it like a tampon. Most bell-shaped cups are designed to sit where a tampon would, and so cannot be felt while worn. Menstrual discs are shaped like diaphragms sit up high, right by the cervix, and also cannot be felt while worn. The cup / disc merely holds the liquid until the wearer removes it, empties it, rinses it and re-inserts it. Most only need to be emptied every 6-12 hours, depending on your flow.

  • No Toxic Shock Syndrome- There have never been any cases of TSS while using menstrual cups. 
  • Moisture balance- Tampons disrupt the natural moisture balance in your vagina because they absorb blood and moisture. This can lead to infections like candida. No more painful end of period tampon removal!
  • Hypoallergenic- Surgical grade silicone you won't worry about your delicate skin reacting to the cup (unlike lots of the additives in tampons)
  • No Strings- nothing to poke out from your bikini
  • Economical- One $40 menstrual cup last 7-10 years. That's 7-10 years worth of tampons you won't be buying. 
  • Environmentally Friendly- Not having to buy tampons and pads each month reduces the resources spent on the product itself, the packaging and the shipping. Using cups eliminates all that packaging and all those used products ending up in landfills. 
  • Shorter periods- Many women have reported experiencing shorter and less painful periods. 
  • No embarrassing trash- Hate having to add your bag of used menstrual products to the bear bag while backpacking? What about the family dog dragging used tampons out of the trash in front of guests? No worrying about bears, duct tape covered zip locks you have to keep in your pack or bloody bits of cotton on the rug. 
  • Almost like you don't have your period- Deal with your period twice a day- when you wake up and go to sleep instead of every three to four hours like with tampons. No tampon bathroom emergencies!
  • Prepare ahead of time- Because the cup won't dry you out, you can wear it on the day you think you'll get your period, before your period actually arrives. You just can't do that with a tampon. 
  • No chemicals- Tampon and pad manufacturers are not required to list every ingredient on the label. Your vagina is a mucous membrane, which means that what you put in there gets absorbed into your body. Tampons are often bleached so they're white, and they also leave behind bits of cotton, rayon, or whatever else they're made of. 
  • Learning Curve- It takes some practice to get the insertion method that suits your body. This usually takes a couple of days. There are a variety of ways to fold or roll each cup to insert it. It takes some experimenting to see what works for you. 
  • Clean Water- Access to clean water is so important when using a menstrual cup. First, you need clean hands before insertion/removal and you'll need clean water to rinse your cup. When I am in areas without clean water, I use the treated water from my water bottle. This means carrying my water bottle into the bathroom with me. You'll also need access to boiling water or gentle soap to sanitize your cup at the end of each period. 
  • Sizing Issues- The first cup I ever used was a Diva cup. It was too big and too stiff and ended up being painful to use. I now use a cup by MeLuna in a smaller size with softer silicone. I still have my Diva sitting in a drawer, $40 down the drain. Some companies have money back guarantees and good return policies to help with sizing issues. Menstrual discs are one size fits all, and a great option if you don't want to worry with the hassle of sizing.
  • Difficult for Teenagers- I have heard that menstrual cups can be difficult for younger women who have not yet had sex or whose bodies are smaller. 
Lots of  Options- Cups and Discs
When I first started using a cup, there were only a couple of brands on the market, and now there are over a dozen. Here are my personal experiences with three brands.

Cups vs. Discs
Advantages of discs:

  • You can have sex while using a disc- which makes for mess-free sex. Orgasms during your period are said to ease cramps and make your period shorter! *certain positions, or if your partner bumps the disc, can cause leaking, just a warning!*
  • Silicone is hypoallergenic and lasts 7-10 years 
Disadvantages of discs:
  • It is nearly impossible to remove without getting blood on your fingers
  • Sometimes the location of the disc presses against my urinary tract, making it harder to pee when the cup is in
  • From my personal experience, they don't hold as much liquid as a cup

Intimina Ziggy Cup Pleasure on your period + My Favorite Disc!
This new disc shaped silicone cup just hit the market.  It is soft and fairly easy to use compared to cups.
What I loved:
  • This cup comes with a really nice silicone case that makes the cup compact and fit better in a toiletry bag
  • The soft silicone meant my partner couldn't feel the disc if he bumped it during sex
  • It is rather large, and very soft, so inserting it can sometimes be challenging
  • Its almost impossible to empty without getting blood on your fingers
  • I have only found it on Amazon

Nixit - The newest disc on the market
This is the latest menstrual disc to hit the market. It is more round and slightly smaller than the Intimina. I plan to order one soon, so I'll update this post with my experience with it once I try it out! So far, I have only found it on their website:

SoftCup - Find it on shelves *almost* everywhere
I have used this disc, and find it comfortable and easy to use, although I do have problems with it. 
  • Easy to find in retailers all over the US including Walgreens, CVS, Target, Wal-Mart and lots of pharmacies
  • This is a cup cup per day cup. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it means that if you're planning a 6 month trip, you'll need a bunch of them. Kind of a deal breaker.  

Diva Cup- Easy to find in stores

Diva Cup was one of the first cups available to American Consumers and thus it is one of the most widely used. 

  • Widely available in the USA on Amazon and in stores like Whole Foods and CVS. Hard to find abroad. 
  • Long stem can easily be trimmed for custom fit
  • Surgical grade silicone
  • Measuring marks on the sides to track your flow
  • This cup is BIG. Even the smaller size is too big for many women, and since it only comes in two sizes, if the smallest is too big, you'll have to switch brands. 
  • Only one kind of silicone. This silicone is stiff, which is great for some women and not for others. Again, if it is too stiff, you'll have to switch brands. 
  • Takes practice to not spill when emptying

MeLuna- Plenty of sizes

I personally love this brand! I love that there are 8 sizes, three TPE (a silicone alternative) stiffness levels and tip choices of  a ball, ring or stem. This is the cup I have used for years. 

  • 8 sizes for the best fit
  • Choose a ring, stem or ball tip to suit your preference. I find the ball is easiest to grab and hold on to for removal. 
  • Three stiffness levels for the best comfort and leak protection
  • Fantastic website to help with sizing decisions
  • Lots of colors (for the European site at least)
  • Only basic versions of the cups (clear, and only sport + classic silicone) are available on the USA MeLuna site. The rest of the cups have to be ordered from the German site and shipping is more expensive. 
  • Takes practice to not spill when emptying
New Cups on the Market
I'm so excited that menstrual cups are finally hitting mainstream, especially after so many years of "WAIT you put that WHERE?!!!" or "EWW gross, I would never use that thing." Its nice to finally have more size, shape and material choices. 
Here are two new brands I'm excited to try out. Once I test them, I'll post reviews. 

FemmyCycle - Spill-proof, soft, comfy, no slipping
I have to say, I'm pretty excited about this cup. It looks huge and scary, but after reading about it, I have to say I really want to try it out. The company claims that the shape helps hold it in place to reduce slipping, and it doesn't need to open up or "pop out" completely in order to work effectively like other cups do. The silicone is much thinner and softer than all other cups so it should be  more comfortable. It has a large loop on the bottom to make removal easy, and the inverted cone opening makes it completely spill proof during removal. 

I'm excited for the Lily Cup because it looks like it just might be a spill free cup. The Lily Cup Compact is awesome because my current cup fits awkwardly in my toiletry kit. 
I would love having a cup that collapses into a flat little carrying case. 

Have any of you tried these two new brands? What is your favorite brand and what brands didn't work for you?

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