Jane has very kindly allowed me to take over her blog for a bit to talk about the wonderful, and much under-discussed topic of periods – or more precisely, sanitary protection . She’s given me a few questions to start me off, so please put aside your squeamishness and your embarrassment for 5 minutes and read on – as an article in The Guardian way back in 2009 said all our squeamishness, it seems, serves the large sanitary protection manufacturers very well and the environment very badly.
What on earth is a moon / tulip cup?
A Mooncup or Tulip Cup are brand names for what is gloriously known as a “menstrual cup”. It is, blushes notwithstanding, a small silicone “cup” which you insert into the necessary orifice to catch your menstrual flow.
Is it better for the environment?
Yes, it’s a lot better for the environment. It’s made of medical-grade silicone and can be used time and time again. Nothing (other than the obvious) gets flushed into the sewers. There are a few very green people out there that apparently compost the blood so that nothing goes into the sewer system. (You may be relieved to know that doesn’t happen in our house.) There is no packaging, other than a cardboard box.
It is also a lot better for you financially – it pays for itself in 6-8 months; they’re around the £20 mark so not a cheap outlay but when you add up what you would pay on disposable tampons or whatever it soon adds up. I’ve had mine for a good 10 years and it’s still going strong.
The other thing to note that is not only is it far better for the environment and your finances, it’s better for your body too. Most tampons are made with cotton and or rayon. Cotton we know about and there are a few questions you need to ask about that – is it likely to be “Fairly Traded” – probably not. Is it likely to be organic? Unless you buy organic tampons (and yes they exist and are the lesser of many tampon evils), then no, so it will have been covered with pesticides and unknown chemicals, all of which you are now putting inside your body.
Rayon – what is that? I have no idea so I Ecosia-ed – (that does not roll off the tongue like “googled” does it, but hey ho – http://www.Ecosia.org is a very simple switch you can make for the environment – it’s a search engine that plants trees instead of making huge profits – check it out) Rayon is made from cellulose, produced from trees, which require a much longer time (years) to grow before they are big enough for harvesting. The trees are chemically processed to remove everything (bark, lignin, etc.) but the cellulose, and then the remaining cellulose is regenerated into man-made fibers. During the processes copper, ammonia and caustic soda are used. Is that something you would want to use in a, let’s face it, very delicate environment – both internally and externally?
Does a mooncup work?
Yes. Not a lot else to say on that – it does the job it’s supposed to do. You have to think about it a lot less than tampons – you don’t have to remember to take spares with you, you have to empty it a lot less than you would change a tampon and you are not at risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Is it comfortable?
Mostly I don’t know it’s there – although if I’m honest, I don’t find it brilliant for running with, in as much as I can feel it there and I don’t want to know about it once it’s in. Otherwise yes, it’s fine.
Is it messy?
A bit in all honesty, but you get used to it.
You can get it from most chemists – I got mine from Boots years ago and they still sell them. Mooncup has been around as a brand for years but there are loads of new brands appearing. It’s definitely worth having a look online to see which you take a shine to.
The other thing really worth looking into are cloth sanitary towels. These are something akin to cloth nappies (not in size, shape or design but in concept!) and I suppose we’ve come full circle on this one again, as with the nappies; it always used to be cloth. Current non-cloth sanitary towels contain, according to one source, the equivalent in petro chemicals of 4 plastic bags. They are lined with plastic, and wrapped in plastic. In our spirit of trying to cut down on plastic this is a fairly easy fix. There are some wild and whacky and very cool reusable sanitary towels around.
So that’s pretty much it from me. Thank you for reading – I know it’s not a comfortable subject but it’s one which affects a lot of us every month so surely must be worth thinking of.