Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm buying an SUV and eating steak...

The menstrual cup has killed my environmental consciousness.

On my old blog, I once wrote that I was not going to put my tampons in Toronto's green bin recycling program. I felt bad, but I thought that the city composting my tampons was the most disgusting. Hence, they were flushed out to sea or put in the regular trash. In my comments, Mainja mentioned a particular brand of menstrual cup and that friends of hers had tried it and liked it. That always stayed in my mind.

Unfortunately it was in my mind about a few months ago when I was buying eco-friendly cleaning products. The store had a big display of menstrual cups. The above graphic gives an idea of what this type of product looks like [there are several brands on the eco-market]. I liked the idea of having a reusable form of 'feminine protection' that didn't involve bringing blood-soaked cloth pads to the laundromat. I bought one.

So you basically shove this cup up vag, and then empty it every few hours. Sound easy? It is and it isn't. It takes time to figure out how to comfortably place the damn thing.

After getting used to placing it correctly, I must admit that I do like the cup. And I do love the fact that it's eco-friendly. However, I never should have gone on their website. The testimonials are so over the top that I am either:
a/ a complete and utter freak of nature, or,
b/ really lucky that I have never been that traumatized by my period

[or c/ both a and b, but we won't go there...]

For your benefit, I have tried to summarize the recurring subjects of both the FAQ and of the comments.

Issue #1: Many of the commenters are so relieved to no longer have to deal with tampons or pads.

My experience: How traumatic are tampons? I've worn them for years. It's really not that big a deal. Some women talked about the mess and the grossness. Seriously? You tug on the string and that baby is flushed out of your life forever. On the other hand, when you remove the cup you are basically holding a rubbery shot glass of blood in your hand. It's not like I need to sit there and bond endlessly with my menstrual blood, and it's pretty easy to dump the cup, but still, the first time I extracted the warm cup of blood, my thoughts were not ' oh how clean and natural'.

Issue #2: People rave about how there's no mess and the cup is so convenient.

My experience: Okay, yes, it's extremely comfortable and I can see how if you are travelling in a remote area you don't need to worry about tampon/pad disposal, but again, I return to the fact that you are dealing with a cup of blood. True, once the blood is dumped you aren't left with a pad or tampon to dispose of, but then what? The site recommends washing the thing after each use. Are you really going to rinse it out in your host's sink? [Not at my house! Please.] The site says that in emergencies you can use tissue to wipe it out. Okay, but then if it isn't a great flushing place, you are still left with bloodied tissue.

Issue #3: Apparently people are running triathlons with this thing.

My experience: The general consensus seems to be that although every woman seems to have had embarrassing accidents/leaks with tampons, the miracle cup never leaks! It lasts forever! Like you can go to work in the morning, and then when you get home after work you might have to empty it. Really. Even if you had to change your super-duper plus tampon every half hour you will be saved by the cup. Again, not if you're me. Holy crap. True again, the cup works well and adds to the time between changes, but [at least for me] this does not extend to the entire work day. And unlike tampons which I can really feel when they have reached max absorbency, the cup truly is so comfortable that I have no idea when it's full. And about to overflow.

My first hint with this joy was going home from work one day and chatting with a colleague as we went to go down the escalator to change subway lines. Not only did the cup overflow, it did so with such ferocity that my first hint that all was not good was when a big glob of blood splashed onto my ankle. Followed by another. And another. Forcing me to hastily say to my colleague "gotta go" and sprint [as much as was possible while trying to keep my thighs glued together] to the subway washroom. At least I was wearing a skirt so I didn't have stains to deal with.

Over-all I do like my cup. But I think I'll stick to disposables for moments like plane travel and dates.


eroswings said...

Your cup overfloweth!

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ewww...but Ha! Ha! Ha! and Ewww...Some of that feminine mystique needs to stay a mystery...

Oh, good lord, I hope no one rinses their cups in my sink either! Bring on the disposable! Some of that stuff is biodegradable! Once again, I'm grateful for being born a man.

Freak Magnet said...

I have to admit - I had never heard of a menstrual cup before now. It's going to take me awhile to digest this information. Possibly a long while.

Brice said...

I know a few people that like the cup, all women.
But if I was a girl, I think i'd avoid it.

Roxrocks said...

Okay I bought one of these god forsaken things when I found out that I was not allowed to flush my tampons into the septic tank. I thought it would make a lovely alternative and I'm sure it would if I didn't bleed like Carrie on prom night! Also, if you've had children, apparently you're supposed to buy whatever size, and I did, but it feels ginormous. (Maybe I have a petite patootie?)

Imagine my additional suffering every month when I faithfully have to remove my tampons and try to catch them to dispose of them into the garbage. Sometimes it's like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands.

Yeah. I went there.

I will be the happiest girl in the world when I hit menopause. I don't care if I get a full mustache and beard. At least I won't have to deal with this crap every month.

Snooze said...

Eros: Hee hee - indeed about my cup fitting that quote. I love being a woman, but yeah, the cup is not a highlight for me.

FM: Would you like me to mail one to you?

Brice: I can't imagine guys needing one. And no, I wouldn't say to avoid it as it really does work well - it just isn't a huge celebratory moment in my life.

Rox: omg, I so hear you on the Carrie bit. Apparently it's never good to flush tampons so I used to try to grab them as well and then decided not to. The Toronto system can deal with it. Your comparison to fish is vile but apt.

tornwordo said...

Oh how I laughed at the end there.

Ponygirl said...

Great post! I bought one of those things as well. Unfortunately I have a bit of an allgery and it makes me itch, so it is now unused in it's little cloth bag in my bathroom cupboard.

There are, however, disposable mentrual cups - "Instead" - which I don't react to and quite like. No rinsing involved - just fish it out, wrap in tissue and dispose of in garbage.

I switched to the cups cuz I have major flow issues as well for the first couple of days and then it's down to almost nothing. Which made a tampon useless and likely to get dried into my tissues, making extraction painful.

I am getting into the menopausal swings of womanhood and all I can say is, "BRING IT ON - NOW!!"

Freak Magnet said...

No, no. No. No, don't need one. Thanks for the generous offer, though.

CoffeeDog said...

Bleah - I don't miss the mens....

Susan as herself said...

Yeah, I don't think I could deal with that. I hate to admit it, but the thought of repeatedly emptying and re-inserting a cup for several days each month would bug the hell outa me. I try to be as "green" as possible, but I draw the line at feminine supplies. I salute you!

Snooze said...

Torn: As you can imagine, laughter was far from my mind at the time. Even I laugh now though.

FM: Let me know if you change your mind.

Ponygirl: Welcome! Do you have the latex kind? Mine is medical grade silicone so there are fewer allergy issues. I didn't know about the disposable ones. Cool.

CD: Really? I thought everyone would want to run out and experience the cup after reading this post...

Susan: I must admit, there are days when it's just too much and I switch to disposable products.

Ponygirl said...

Snooze: Mine is silicone and it makes me itch. I don't have a latex allergy and being a nurse, I am exposed to latex all the time without any problems. Not sure why the silicone is an issue....

I love the disposible ones.

Laverne said...

I couldn't master the cup. tried and tried, and just gave up. And you know, the cup o' blood thing? Don't think I could get used to it anyway.

Snooze said...

Ponygirl: The key is finding what works!

Laverne: I hear ya.