Ok ladies, it’s time to talk about something we don’t always talk about…our period! I know, most of us keep the chit chat about that time of the month to a minimum but I’m so excited about the swaps I’ve made that I can’t NOT share about it! Today’s post is going to be real, so apologies if things get a little more descriptive than your liking. 🙂
Last summer I made two swaps to my period routine that no lie were the best changes ever (when both were something that a year and a half ago I would have been like “heck no”). I’m talking the menstrual cup and the reusable panty liner.
When I first heard about the mentrual cup you probably couldn’t have paid me to try it. My mind was so stuck on a preconceived notion that it was completely gross that I immediately dismissed it. Then as I became more committed to reducing our waste, I started giving it more reconsideration. It was around that time that several friends told me about their experience. Both said it was actually pretty great once you got used to it so I bit the bullet and bought one. Never has something period related moved me to post something on Twitter about it (not much does really), but this one did! After a quick troubleshooting through the first time putting it and taking it out, I was golden and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.
Never again do I have to think about having tampons packed in my bag while out and assuming I’ve put it in right, I don’t even have to wear a liner. That being said I still do wear liners on occasion, particularly as I’m waiting for my period to arrive and during those final light days, but I’ll circle back to liners momentarily. Because I don’t usually make all that much to fill it up over a 12 hour period I don’t really have to worry about leaks. Most of us don’t unless its raining cats and dogs down there. So as long as you keep it emptied regularly (changing within 12 hours max) and get it a good seal you should be good to go! Here’s how the cup works in a nutshell: fold it up into a u shape, stick it in, give it a turn to get a good suction then go about your day until its time to change. The only challenge may be making sure to remember its in there for all the folks out there like me who are prone to the leave-it-and-forget-it problem, even with tampons.
Assuming no extra heavy flow action, the routine for keeping it emptied could be as simple as this depending on your day: once in the morning upon waking, again in the afternoon and then once more before bed. Sometimes to avoid the possibility of forgetting about it in the morning, I’ll leave it out at night and just wear a liner to sleep. One time I did this though and the liner wasn’t long enough (oops) so I ended up getting a longer one to try out for this purpose. As for the day, as long as the cup is changed within 12 hours and you don’t have a crazy heavy flow you could potentially go an entire workday without having to change it. To empty you just reach on in there (with clean hands), squeeze to release the suction, wiggle it out, dump, flush, wash off with an unscented soap and water then reinsert. If you’re out in public just empty, wipe clean and then wash it at the next available opportunity. That’s it! No trash to deal with. Just make sure not to drop it. 😉 haha just kidding. I’ve only done that once early on when I was still getting the hang of things. Luckily it was in my own bathroom and not out in public because it was a bit like a scene out of Carrie (and pretty hilarious) but like I said it was during those first few days into using it, so definitely don’t fear that scenario.
If you follow the directions it really is easy peasy lemon squeezy and never again will you have to run to the store between periods to stock up on tampons. Never again will you have to make sure tampons are in your bag before leaving the house during your cycle. It is however a good idea to have your cup handy when you know your period is coming. Unless you’re a novice 35 year old like me who always manages to be out running around town with nothing even though my period is due to come literally any minute. I digress, where was I? Oh yes…no trash to deal with! Imagine not having to have that awkward tossing-a-used-tampon-into-the-trash moment at a party or extended family member’s house…or the family of the person you just started dating! Can you imagine never having to worry about a string slipping out from inside your bathing suit? Total game changer. I just went water skiing during my period…without shorts. And everything stayed perfectly put by the way so if you’re an active gal, you don’t have to worry about whether a menstrual cup can keep up!
Now I’m not going to lie and say that putting in and taking out the cup is the equivalent to not having a period at all. It is however no worse than the process of using tampons and the benefits of not having to replace them, having to dispose them, or deal with the string are totally are what make the menstrual cup win out every time. There are little holes in all menstrual cups that are there to help with the suction which you have to take care to make sure they get adequately cleaned out with each wash. For the longest time I struggled with how to keep them clean other than just trying to stretch each hole and work soap through there as best as possible until I found this cool method. Juuust make sure you don’t squeeze too hard if you don’t want it shooting up through the top and all over your bathroom. Another option is to clean them out using an old toothbrush (just make sure you label it, haha). I still use the method of stretch and scrub but there are alternative ways to make sure all stays clean and clear. It’s also recommended to boil it after each period to keep it sanitized so that helps. These things do add an extra step to the process but the other benefits of wearing the cup over traditional tampons most definitely outweigh this little detail.
The brand I have is DivaCup but there are tons of different cups out there on the market! They are available at many retailers so just peek around next time you’re picking up a box of tampons. If you have trouble finding one, DivaCup has a store finder on their website but you can also find all the different brands online.
So what about reusable panty liners?
Reusable liners are an easy alternative to the traditional peel and stick variety. You simply snap them onto your underwear and go. They aren’t any more gross than using a disposable liner and even during days when they catch more than a light spotting they’ve still done very well for me. I simply rinse them out or let them soak if need be. I keep laundry basket for reusables in my bathroom so they go in there and don’t have to sit with my dirty clothes until its time to wash them. When they need to be changed on-the-go (which I’ve had to do while traveling) you can ball them up and snap them shut just in the same way you might a disposable to keep from making contact with the rest of your laundry.
I have liners from Hesta Organic, Glad Rags & Lunapads. The ones I have from Hesta Organic & Glad Rags are pretty similar in terms of protection and general size but my favorite out of those two are the ones from Hesta Organic. The ones from Glad Rags feel a little bulky in the middle making it feel less like a liner and more like a pad. I actually talked to another gal just recently who’d tried them & gave me the exact same feedback regarding her experience. From Luna Pads I have a “thong” style and longer length. The long length is LONG and really only something I’d wear when asleep. They’d also probably be good during the postpartum period. The thong style is great except I have a harder time with it staying in place when wearing it with cheeky or thong style underwear which is something I’ve experienced with the regular sized liners as well. For me regular liners on cheeky underwear always seem to want to pop out the sides in the back which is annoying so I’ve found the best option is to wear them with regular, bikini style underwear so things stay put. Though I haven’t tried the traditional sized liner from Lunapads, I did like how the ones I have from them are super soft and don’t feel bulky at all.
All of my liners are the basic undyed, organic cotton so they slightly show stains but not as bad as one might expect. If stains weird you out, Glad Rags, Luna Pads and many other makers of reusable pads have alternative color options available if you want to avoid that (you can even find them on Etsy). All three of the brands I have also offer options other than liners should you require something with a little more protection.
Just as with the menstrual cup, I love knowing I don’t have to run out and buy more when I run out in addition to the obvious benefit that my period doesn’t create any trash. There is a higher initial investment for liners as well as the menstrual cup but remember that you will be using these over and over rather than paying for single use products that will have to be replaced in the near future. Aside from the fact that I’m limited to wearing my liners with regular underwear (even with the thong style design), I’m still happy with the switch. Right now I have 8. Sometimes this is enough but sometimes I run out depending on how often I need to wear them around the time of my period so I’m still working to find that balance.
Have you ever tried these types of reusables or thought about giving them a go?
*This post is in no way sponsored. 🙂