Menstrual cups are a popular choice for today’s conscientious woman: they’re eco-friendly and non-toxic. But are they safe? Below, I’ll share the menstrual cup dangers I’ve come across so you can see why they might not be a good fit for you and your period.
Living a healthy and non-toxic lifestyle encompasses every area of your life. First you clean up your diet, then your cleaning and beauty supplies… and then you realize: what should I do about my period?
From organic cotton menstrual products to mama cloth, alternative choices abound. But how is a girl to choose? I’ve officially tried just about every type of natural period solution out there (for a really good rundown of your options, check out The Soft Landing’s Complete Guide to Non-toxic Period Products.)
I was mostly concerned with exposing my most delicate of tissues to chlorine and other hormone-disrupting chemicals when I decided to give natural period products a try.
The first and simplest thing to try was organic tampons, since I had always used conventional tampons since I was a teenager. It was convenient, safer, and comfortable, but I hated having to make a trip to the store every month and, heaven forbid, occasionally running out! (Paging Mr. Incredible: please make your way to aisle 13; your wife’s on her period. Cue dying of embarrassment.)
Following the birth of number four, I decided to stock up on mama cloth (aka reusable, washable pads) for the post partum period. Mama cloth is eco-friendly (nothing to dispose of!), convenient (nothing to buy more of- it’s always there!), and inexpensive (buy once & done), but I found it gross and uncomfortable, and hated having to wash it.
I continued using mama cloth when my period returned and used it for a couple years before finally deciding to try the one thing I hadn’t: a menstrual cup. I had been really interested in trying a menstrual cup for years before I finally took the plunge, and have now used it twice. I think it’s important I share the surprising (or not so surprising) menstrual cup dangers I’ve come across since trying it, so you can decide if a menstrual cup is for you.
Menstrual cup dangers
1. Blood is terrifying.
I had read about menstrual cups for years and thought they sounded great, except this: horror stories of women in public bathrooms, blood covering their hands like a scene straight out of Shakespeare. How embarrassing! How gross! Plus, blood is terrifying.
Who wants to actually touch a bodily fluid? Shouldn’t those types of things be kept under wraps? I mean, everyone knows women menstruate, but we shouldn’t talk about it, right?
Truth: I’m a pretty private person. I don’t really want to go blabbing about my period, BUT, I don’t think we should be so afraid to talk about a natural occurrence for billions of women, that women miss out on solutions that might make their lives better.
Reality: it’s a little gross, but definitely no more gross than dealing with mama cloth, and not much different than dealing with tampons. Yeah, you might have to get to know your good ol’ bod a little more intimately, but I think this is a good thing. Bonus: I actually think it’s kind of cool to be able to SEE how much blood I’m losing. You can’t really do that with any other period product, as the others absorb the fluid.
2. You may enjoy your menstrual cup so much, you forget you’re on your period.
What’s that? My period…? I think it was last week. Wait… did I ever take my cup out?
One of the major menstrual cup dangers is forgetting you’re wearing one. So comfortable, so conforming to your body, menstrual cups can easily be forgotten and left for days or weeks!
Reality: I haven’t forgotten about my menstrual cup yet… except at night when I can comfortably sleep without worrying about leaks… or running errands without making a pit stop.
3. The disposable menstrual product industry will suffer.
This may be the greatest menstrual cup danger of all. What will the disposable menstrual product industry do if women start learning they don’t have to run out for pads or tampons every month???
And what about all the poor landfills that will be missing literally TONS of products each year?
It’s estimated that approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are being sent to North American landfills annually. On an individual level, each of the approximately 73 million menstruating people in North America will throw away 16,800 disposable pads or tampons in their lifetime. These products require hundreds of years to biodegrade, particularly if wrapped in the plastic bag commonly provided for this purpose as part of their packaging. In fact, every piece of plastic ever made, still exists to this day. (source)
Wait… almost 17,000 disposable pads or tampons? PER PERSON?
Those poor, poor landfills to miss out on nearly 17,000 disposable products per woman who switches to a menstrual cup.
Reality: the ease of pulling out a menstrual cup when your flow arrives and safely tucking it back away til next month is much easier (and more cost effective) than having to buy and dispose of period products month after month.
Benefits of using a menstrual cup
You see where I’m going with this… for me, there hasn’t been a downside to giving a menstrual cup a try. Yes, there’s been a learning curve, and after two periods with a cup, I’m getting the hang of it, but I’m experiencing tons of benefits, including:
- cost-effectiveness- I bought one, inexpensive cup and haven’t had to buy anything else since. The cup will last for years before I even have to think about another purchase.
- comfort- while the initial insertion can be a little messy, once done, I’ve found a menstrual cup to be much cleaner and more comfortable than the mama cloth I’d been using, as well as the disposable products I’d used in the past.
- safety- because menstrual cups are made of food-grade silicone, I don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals in my reproductive organs. No more worries about chlorine and pesticides!
Are menstrual cups comfortable? In a word: yes- once you get the hang of them. It’s important to choose the right one for your body, based on your flow and body size (hint: not all companies base size on whether or not you’ve had a baby!).
If you’re having trouble with getting your menstrual cup set just right, you are not alone. My first cycle was awful the first couple days until I figured out I wasn’t placing the cup far enough up.
This guide is an excellent resource to help you choose the right style, size, and fold for you.
My personal suggestion
Don’t have time to read a long, drawn-out guide? I suggest the Lena cup, which comes in two sizes.
I chose the Lena because the company bases sizing on more than just whether or not you’ve had a baby. Because I am petite, I worried that choosing based on the fact that I have had four vaginal births would leave me with too large a cup.
I ended up giving the small Lena cup a try because it’s designed for first-time users and those with lighter flows.
I am so glad I didn’t choose based on having babies, because the larger cups would almost certainly be too big for me.
Check out the Lena cup here.
Trying a menstrual cup was so scary for me, it took me years to work up the nerve! Don’t be so worried- be brave and choose a better way to deal with your period.
Those menstrual cup dangers? They’re all in your head. Give it a try and experience period freedom.
Oh- and be sure to share by pinning the above image or using one of our links so friends can be brave too!