As I am slowly transitioning into the zero waste lifestyle, one of my priorities is to tackle the monthly perks of being a woman (insert sarcastic voice here). Let’s be honest, if we think about all the products we as women use in general, we can’t be too proud about the carbon footprint we’re leaving ; Pads, tampons, waxing kit, bleach kit, shaving cream, makeup products, face and body creams, hair products, deodorant, nail polish, nail polish remover, cotton balls – you name it.
Now, ever since I started practicing minimalism, I’ve already given up on nail polish and stopped buying useless products I was brainwashed to think I needed when in reality they didn’t do much apart from smelling good. On the other side, hygiene products are often a touchier subject since they can be taboo in some cultures or can bring some kind of discomfort, well just because – it’s our private parts we’re talking about. Even I, in the pursuit of an eco-friendly lifestyle, took a while to consider making the switch to an environmentally friendly product when it came to my monthly flow. In fact, I had already heard about the reusable cups years ago but wasn’t ready to give it a shot – just like lots of women out there. Although, I knew that if I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint and be a true environmental activist, I HAD to make this change whether it was now or later. During my transition, three things convinced me to finally make the move:
- Caring for the Earth is one of my core values
- I knew I would be saving money in the long run
- Positive feedback from other women who have been using reusable cups for years
Once I was convinced, the only thing I had left to do was to decide If I was to switch to reusable pads, menstrual underwear or the menstrual cup. Normally, I would wear pads just because tampons intensified my cramps but the idea of having to keep pads full of blood in my purse until I got home to wash them felt unpractical. Therefore, I decided to purchase the DivaCup (there are other brands but this is the most common one in Canada) along with small washable panty liners – just to be safe.
Overall, my experience was surprisingly pleasant. Once I got a hang of it and learned to use it correctly, it barely felt as if I even had my period. Apart from the bearable cramps, these were the perks I found compared to disposable pads on a technical level:
- I had no leaks – even during the night
- I could not feel the cup no matter the position I was in
- Unlike pads, there was no stinky odor
- The bathroom garbage is much cleaner
- I could finally measure how much blood I was losing! (this is probably my favorite part)
If you’re also thinking about switching to a reusable cup, here are a few tips on how to turn into a reusable cup master:
1) Purchase the right size
There are 2 sizes of Divacup – thanks to the lady at the store who was kind enough to notice and asked me if I had given birth because I was about to purchase model #2. Here are the offered models:
Model 1 is recommended for women under the age of 30 who have never delivered vaginally or by caesarean section.
Model 2 is recommended for women age 30 and over and/or for women who have delivered vaginally or by caesarean section.
2) Read the instructions
If you’re the type of person who buys a popcorn machine and never read the instructions, only to find out a few years later that that exact machine had the crazy option to make rainbow ice cream – you won’t get away this time. This is the kind of thing you want to make sure to read before you insert it into your sacred temple. There is a specific way to use it in order to guarantee a comfortable, zero-leak experience. The instruction sheet explains it well with images so it shouldn’t be a hassle. Although, I still took pictures as below to clearly see what the folding methods look like.
Fold option 1
Fold option 2
3) Get in touch
Soon enough, you will realize that you’ve underestimated your vagina and that it can do powerful things. Jokes aside, once the cup is inserted correctly, your vaginal lips create a sort of suction and hug it perfectly assuring that nothing leaks out. In order to achieve this, you must be okay with the idea of touching blood and your intimate parts. It is set in some minds and cultures that menstruations are filthy or disgusting but there is no such thing. Actually, one of the wonders of the human body is that the vagina has a natural auto-cleansing system. Ditch the cleansing products and don’t be scared of the blood. Embrace your body, make friends with your secret garden.
4) Handle with care
Here are the things you need to remember to make the experience a success
- Wash your hands well before touching the cup – you don’t want to risk getting infections
- You must make the 360 turn to ensure that the cup opens once it’s inside
- Remember that it needs to be emptied and washed twice a day – if it’s too full it might leak. If you’re using a public bathroom, just empty the cup in the toilet boil, clean the cup with a dry or damp cloth and reinsert it. Clean it properly the next time you get a chance.
- Do not use oil based soap – only water based – Divacup sells their own but any water based soap should work
- Once your period is over, wash it and put it away in the cute little bag that is offered with the purchase
- Extra tip: If you have long nails, be gentle as you might hurt yourself