What Are The Benefits Of Using A Menstrual Cups? 10 Women On How The Period Product Made Their Lives Better

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle
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Whatever your feelings are about periods, there’s no denying one thing: They’re messy. And the way we choose to deal with it differs from person to person. Some people prefer pads. Some go for tampons. Some are super into “period panties.” Some free bleed. And others, like me, couldn't love their menstrual cups more.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I bit the bullet and invested in a menstrual cup after a decade and a half of using tampons. And while I’m not going to claim that my periods have been a cool summer’s breeze for the past three years, I’m definitely happy with the change. I only have to change it twice a day. I don’t generate waste in the form of packaging and used tampons every month. No more vaginal tearing, even on light days. And no more disgusting tampon strings.

There are a couple of downsides. I sometimes have trouble getting it positioned properly, but a switch to a more flexible brand has made that easier. Also, a little bit of leakage — if I can’t get it in place — isn’t unheard of, although it’s definitely not more than I would experience on heavy flow days with a tampon. Of the options I’ve tried over the 20 years I’ve had my period, menstrual cups are hands down the best.

And I’m definitely not alone in my love for menstrual cups. Here are 10 people on why they switched to a menstrual cup and how it has made their lives better in ways non-menstrual cup users could only dream about.

1Laura, 30

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"My menstrual cup made a major difference when I made the switch to the IUD the first few months because bleeding was like flooding and the menstrual cup was a savior because it holds more than tampons. It’s also generally cheaper over time and you don't have to worry about buying tampons all the time, which is important for me because oftentimes I'm traveling and the same brand might not be available. Also, there are space constraints for luggage. (I'd rather bring an extra lotion than 15 tampons.) Disposal is so much easier with the cup than with tampons, which I always worried about where to dispose of.

I feel like tampons are more like 'plugging' you, whereas the cup allows for the flow to just happen. I don't know if that makes sense, but in my head it makes the whole process more natural. Also, chemicals in tampons. No thank you."

2Rose, 38

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"I am lazy and disorganized and I hate having to remember to buy tampons and carry them around. Also, I'm really cheap, and I figured it was very economical when amortized over multiple years.

My parents were hippies, so it goes against the grain to have throwaway items when there's a reusable equivalent. My parents live out in the country with a septic tank. When I was home for a visit and told my mother that cups are a thing now, she was amazed. ‘I could have saved so much money… and so much less hassle than having to burn pads and tampons in the Rayburn!'

[They're great for] things like day hikes, jobs without many bathroom breaks… And they are a godsend if you have a copper IUD."

3Libby, 26

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"I made the change for a variety of reasons! They're cheaper, more eco-friendly, less hassle than tampons, easier travel, and better for your bod. I guess I love it for all of those reasons!

Also, you can put it in if you think your period is going to start soon, just to be safe. And I have a pretty light period, so I only have to change it in the morning and at bedtime. If I don't have cramps, it's pretty easy to forget that I'm even on my period!"

4Lilly, 24

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"I initially switched because I was annoyed with the cost of the organic options. I was also lured by the fact that I could go out for the day and not worry for 12 hours. Looking into it more, it’s obviously more sustainable, better for the health of your vagina, pH balance, etc. And I always knew my vagina was a diva, she just didn’t have the right accessories yet!

One bit of caution though: do not use during a yoga class or any crazy dance movements! I didn’t know that and had the most embarrassing experience of co-teaching a yoga class and halfway through I couldn’t stop queefing. The loudest craziest noises were coming out of me, and then eventually I bled all over my mat. Physics are against you when you’re moving around and have a movable piece of plastic inside of you!

Anywho, it’s really great, I don’t feel it, and think it’s even brought better sensation, compared with tampon using, which never really worked for my body."

5Jess, 37

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"To me, at like 25 or 26 and struggling to pay my rent and electric on a journalist's salary, it was super appealing to make one purchase that cost like four tampon boxes' worth, and be done with it.

The benefits are massive, but one is less changes through the day (seriously) since you collect it instead of it filling up a tampon. Even if you go to change it you might realize you didn’t need to — it was barely full. Another thing is, it's great working in the field, you don't ever 'run out' or have to bum from anyone — it's always on you and you just need to find a faucet. (As anyone who's ever ripped a overfull tampon out in a dark field or alleyway knows, though, you can't always find a sink.) It's totally wearable while having sex, at least the gum rubber kind, and just kinda pokes the penis, but withholds all the blood, so it keeps it kind of tidy in there.

And — it was really good practice for getting an IUD, since you do have to reach up and figure out your uterus placement; samesies with natural family planning (if you want to have a baby, you often track where your cervix is to know how fertile you are) so it gets you familiar with your body.

It's great for camping — no waste. It's great for your toilet system — no waste. And now, being a mom, I can see it being great because it's one less piece of bullshi*t I have to care about or purchase. The only downfall is if you're the type to get caught off guard by your period a lot. Which I am, but that means all my undies are a wreck already."

6Jessica, 27

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"There were a few things that contributed to my transition. I had been battling serious yeast infection-life symptoms on a regular basis and medical professionals just kept telling me that it was normal, that sometimes that happens in your cycle or with the natural fluctuations of your flora, yadda yadda yadda… But it was super not normal. So, I started paying more attention to everything. The products I was using — detergents, skin care stuff, tampons. I was having problems with the tampons because I was just so dry when my flow wasn’t at it’s heaviest, but I absolutely didn’t want to go to pads-only route. At this point in my life, I was traveling extensively, too, and tampons aren’t always easy to come by depending on the country you’re in.

I wasn’t thinking about all of this consciously all at the same time, but the pieces were starting to come together. I was standing in the feminine hygiene aisle at the pharmacy one day. I was looking at all the products, wondering why anyone would ever use a cardboard applicator… Or why anyone ever thought that was a good idea in the first place… And I noticed the disposable menstrual cups for the first time. I’d recently heard of the DivaCup, but I’d never heard of the disposable ones before. I had no idea what to expect, but I figured, ‘Why not?’ They weren’t what I was expecting, but I LOVED them. (In fact, it’s probably my favorite product that I’ve ever used. They were most reliable for leak protection for me, and I get some pretty heavy flows.) The only problem was that I felt like the waste they generated was even worse than tampons and pads.

Flash forward a couple months, my sister is getting ready for a two month trip through Southeast Asia. I’m back in the feminine hygiene aisle for myself when I spot the DivaCup. I decide that I’m going to pick one up for her because it would be way better than carrying two to three cycles’ worth of paper products with her in her backpack. Plus it’s more environmentally friendly. I decided to grab myself one that day too. Since then, I’ve been a cup user. Things I love about the cup:

- I haven’t had any yeasty problems since I made the transition away from paper/chemical-laden products.

- I feel good about not creating a bunch of waste through wrappers and applicators and boxes and wads of whatever material tampons are made of.

- I put it in in the morning and leave it there until I get home at the end of the day without worrying about over saturation or legends of toxic shock.

- Easy maintenance: I just make a second cup of hot water when I make my evening tea to clean it daily, or wash it with a little gentle soap while I’m in the shower. Two birds, either way.

- As an seasoned extensive traveller, I love anything that will reduce the load of my pack.

- I accidentally had sex with it in once. My partner didn’t notice because the silicone was so smooth and we didn’t make a mess. I’m not sure how that was managed, but I’m still impressed that it was."

7Greenie, 34

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"I made the change from tampons after seeing multiple posts on /r/Frugal and /r/TwoXChromosomes on reddit in 2013. I had taken a pay cut then and I wanted to cut down on expenses. It seemed that the higher upfront costs with a menstrual cup was a good investment, but I was afraid from the bad reviews. It seemed like those who didn’t love the cup had trouble inserting the cup to begin with. So I felt like I knew what I was getting into  — don’t give up after your first or second try!

I think what I learned from it was that, while it just didn’t seem natural to put in a silicone container in the body, the true anxiety I got was from my own body. I was afraid of using my own hands near my vagina. I still can’t explain the exact social conditioning that led me to feel so ashamed and nervous. But it was there!

Now, thinking back, what was I even thinking? I have let other people stick their fingers in me and somehow I was more OK with that than I was with my own fingers, which I have control of, which are mine! I got it on the second attempt. Well, my first attempt took maybe 40 minutes before I gave up and used a tampon because I had to go. But the second time, I gave myself time. Put candles in my bathroom and meditate when I felt tense. Then I got it.

Pro-tip: you can control your vaginal muscles and that definitely helps to adjust the cup. Also, did you know that in the UK, where I currently live, tampons are considered a luxury item and are taxed accordingly!? It makes me happy that I don’t have to keep paying this tax through tampons every month."

8Nanci, 30

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"[I] knew I wanted something more environmentally friendly and had been meaning to try it for years. While I was abroad, I had a work schedule that was at times travel heavy, and bathroom scarce. Using the cup was incredible because I was able to "set it and forget it" for eight hours at a time. It is great to have one less thing to think about in that regard.

But also, I started doing more music and burlesque, and feeling secure in that the tail of my tampon wouldn't leak through onto costumes was really good. (Not to say this was all the time.)

Further, with a little trial and error (and initial hilarity/mess) I was really able to appreciate the amount of endometrial lining I was producing, and see how much that changes day to day ( there are little tick marks to show you down to the milliliter.) Plus vaginas are awesome. It was kickass to feel around there and see what was what. It got me a lot more comfortable with what was happening in my canal. Vaginal canal, that is."

9Jazmine, 24

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"I'm seriously in love with my cup; it's like the best friend that always has your back... Or cervix I guess. I switched for a lot of reasons. Tampons were pricey and I wanted to be a bit more conscious environmentally. Finally I met someone selling them at a local market who shared her story about loving the cup and I was sold. She went a little overboard with her enthusiasm, talking about using her blood to feed her plants. (But honestly, I eventually became one of those people too.) I tried one for awhile that was similar to the DivaCup, but then I found Femmecycle. It has a bigger bowl with a lip on top which prevents any spill (you can turn it upside down and it won't spill), it always fit right in place, never leaks, and has a ring on the end so it's super easy to take out.

It's made me feel so much closer to my own body. I'm not afraid of touching my own blood or seeing it. I now also use it to nourish my plants or have painted with it, and other weird stuff. It's pretty empowering and became part of my process to really sync my whole life up with my cycle. Because women are f*cking magic and we have this opportunity every month to literally and emotionally shed. I think the more we get in touch with that and aren't afraid of seeing it or talking about it, the more we can normalize it. I've had some really great conversations with friends about their relationship to their period and their cup and it kind of never ceases to amaze me how f*cking powerful it is."

10Jane

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"In 2010 my friend had just started using it, and loved it, and was telling me about it. I didn't realize it existed until then. My initial thought was gross, but awesome! I researched and the only one available was the Mooncup back then, so I got it. I thought about the thousands of tampons I'd be putting into the environment over a lifetime. I think I read an article about how it was literally 2,000 or 3,000 over a lifetime. Oh. My. God.

Cost of tampons versus cost of a Mooncup. This is a no-brainer. Sometimes when I occasionally have to buy tampons I cringe at the cost. I also get pissed off at the fact that companies profit immensely from women's natural physiology. Especially when the cost of period gears means young girls often miss school because of the cost, so I refuse to buy into that system. I wish there was a way that costs could be removed for young girls to minimize educational impacts during their periods. The risk of toxic shock syndrome is always there, and I have a friend who suffered from this so it's always been a consideration.

Once I tried the Mooncup, I liked it for practical reasons. I've never "flooded" ever again, and in seven years, I've only ever had two leaks. So, now that I think about it, I've never had period stained underwear ever since! That's pretty cool. I never considered that aspect until now. No risks of leaks with clothing, or activities, I've basically got 100 percent confidence in it so no 'uh oh' moments! I have to say that's without a doubt my favorite aspect."

As you can see, menstrual cups are beloved by many of us who love them. But they won't work for everyone, of course, and I'm sure I could come up with just as many stories from people talking about how they love their tampons or their pads or their period panties. The best thing to do it is try out different options and figure out what works best for your body and lifestyle. But for me? It's menstrual cups all the way.