Zero Waste Periods: My First Experience Using a Mooncup

The shift to a low waste period was always going to be the hardest step for me. Menstruating is annoying anyway, so for me to change my tried and tested stress free routine of using pads, it was going to require a lot of motivation to shift to using a menstrual cup! I've never really enjoyed using tampons, so the idea of something being inside me all day, as opposed to just a pad wasn't very comforting. But I was chatting to a few friends who use a Mooncup, and I thought I'd give it a try - with the aim of reducing my waste. As someone who doesn't use makeup wipes or create much bathroom waste (I wrote a post about the swaps I made), my period and disposable plastic pads seemed to be the only waste I created. So eliminating my period waste would be a huge achievement in my zero waste journey!
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 Before I start talking about the benefits of switching to a plastic free period, I thought I'd include a day-by-day description of my experience using the Mooncup for the first time!

Day 1:
I managed to insert the cup relatively easily using the pushdown fold, without any discomfort. I also used a reusable pad my mum made just in case it leaked during the day. Spent 3 hours walking outside without any discomfort or concerns. After around 10 hours of wearing the cup, I started to have slight leak onto my reusable pad, so I emptied it at this point. Taking it out was relatively easy, but required patience and not getting too stressed out (if you tense up it is harder to remove.) After the 10 hours the cup was nearly full, hence why it was leaking a bit. My flow is heavier on the first few days of my period, so this was understandable. For less chance of leaks, next time I will empty more often in the day whilst my flow is heavy.

Day 2: 
I had to reinsert the cup a few times before finding a position that was comfortable. I emptied it more than the first day, so I didn't experience any leaks, but as I was changing it so often, I could feel the stem when I sat down. I woke up at 5am as I was worried about my cup leaking (on my 1st night during my period, I would usually wake up like this to change my pad, before going back to sleep), though I could have stayed in bed as it was not completely full. I changed my folding technique to a 7-fold rather than push-down fold as an experiment, finding that the cup opened up to form the seal a lot easier with the 7-fold.

Day 3:
I started to feel like I was getting the hang of taking out my cup and reinserting it comfortably on the first try. My period flow got lighter so I wasn't needing to take it out during the day. After feeling like I was confident in taking out my cup without relying on the stem to reach it, I cut off 5mm so that the cup would be more comfortable. This was the best decision for me! Once I cut a bit off the stem I couldn't feel it at all, where before I could feel it if I lay down.

Days 4/5:
No leaks at all, kept it in all day without any issues of discomfort. My flow was a lot lighter by this day, so I wasn't concerned about it potentially leaking. Started feeling super confident about using my Mooncup as a low-waste period swap .

Day 6:
Just spotting and barely-there levels of flow by this day. So I didn't use the cup at all, and I just used my reusable pads!

For my first time using a menstrual cup, I think I learned how to use it pretty quickly. I'd definitely say it takes a lot of patience, and I'm grateful that I was able to try using it while in lockdown (no where to rush to in the mornings!) I think the key to learning how to use a menstrual cup is maintaining the mental strength to keep trying, even if you find it difficult at first. You won't be the expert at using one on the first try.

Finding a fold that works for your body is also very important! Everyone's bodies are different shapes so what works for one person may not work for another. I've included some pictures of a few common types of fold. The only difference is the size of the upper ring, if you are struggling to insert the cup, I recommend the push-down fold, where you literally 'push down' the middle of the cup so it forms a spout like shape. Make sure you try out difference styles, and decide which one works for you.

Rinse the cup in water before you insert it. This will make it 10x easier to put in, reducing the friction. When you are at home this is a lot easier. Though if you are in public, you could use a bathroom that has a sink in the cubicle. Considering that most days you wouldn't need to empty the cup halfway through the day (you can keep the cup in for up to 8 hours), this shouldn't be too much of an issue!

A Mooncup holds 3x more fluid than a regular tampon, which means you won't have to empty it as often as you would change a pad or tampon. Not only did this make my period less stressful, but I wasn't constantly worried about having to change pad. I'm a pretty forgetful person, so I imagine when I go back to uni, using the Mooncup will be much more convenient. I won't need to buy packs of pads, or remember to bring extra in my bag when I go out. I can just pop in the cup in the morning and change it when I get home later that day!

Use a washable pad/liner as well to provide peace of mind. If you are in a rush, you might not get the cup in quite so it creates an air vacuum. Though it will still work, it's much more likely to leak in these circumstances. I wore one of my handmade reusable liners alongside using my cup as a backup protection against unexpected leaks. This way, while I was learning how to put the cup in properly, I wasn't stressed about it leaking throughout the day. I was able to check for leaks in the pad rather than through my underwear in a disaster!

Me and my mum made our own reusable liners (search for DIY panty liners / period pads for some inspo), but you can just buy them from online! I found some cute ones here: Eco-Femme Cotton Panty Liners – Vibrant Stripe 3 Pack 

You shouldn't be able to feel your cup. If you have put it in correctly, it should be so comfortable you forget it is there! This takes practice, and you might need to snip the end off the stem so it sits nicely without causing irritation. The cup will sit much lower than a tampon, so inserting it is a lot easier. I HATED TAMPONS and I adjusted really easily to using the cup.

If you are considering making the switch to a Mooncup, I would definitely recommend you give it a go. It might end up being your new favourite part of being on your period! Obviously I am still new to using one, but I will definitely continue to write about using a menstrual cup in the future, when I am more experienced in using one.

Have you considered using a Mooncup instead of disposable pads/tampons?

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