Shocked that the average user throws away an astonishing 125 to 150kg of tampons, pads and applicators in their lifetime, the team at SH:24 were determined to see what other options are out there. We reviewed reusable pads, period pants and menstrual cups as alternatives to disposable sanitary products and here’s what we found.
Charlotte shares her experiences with one of the better known brands of menstrual cup:
”I am currently on my second period using the Mooncup. The first period I tried to use it on was a bit of a disaster but I’d been really keen to make the switch and was pretty determined to make it work!
First time round my period came on the day of an event that I was wearing a pale pink jumpsuit to. There was no way I was going to risk trying it then. The next day I was hungover…I couldn’t bring myself to try it then, it seemed too complicated.
On the third day I decided to quickly pop it in before work. This was my first mistake. It is a bit tricky to get in, especially in a rush when you’re a bit bleary eyed on a Monday morning. I managed to get the cup, my hand and the floor covered in blood. Once it was in I did find it ok, but I could definitely feel it and didn’t feel comfortable enough to do exercise. You can leave the cup in for 8 hours so luckily I was able to take it out at home. This was lucky because it went everywhere! 8 hours is too long and unlike pads and tampons it’s hard to tell when the cup might be getting too full.
I waited another 4 weeks to give my review because even after a difficult start I knew that a bit of practice might help. This time around has been much, much better! I have mastered the knack of folding the cup as tightly as possible and getting it in as far as possible. Once you release your fingers the cup just springs into position and when it is in the right position you really cannot feel it. Taking it out has also become easier but I do check on it after about 4-5 hours. I feel so comfortable with the technique now I would even wear it with that pale pink jumpsuit.
I have found my period to be shorter when using the Mooncup - it seems that maybe the gentle suction action of the cup helps your period along. What I really like about the cup is that, unlike tampons, you can use it even when your period is really light towards the end. I still haven’t tried to exercise with it in, but that is really my own laziness.”
Nana and Cori from our distribution team share the highs and lows of the DivaCup menstrual cup.
Nana was a fan, once she got the hang of things.
“I chose the DivaCup because it's the original menstrual cup and I had read good reviews about it. From what I understood, it's stiffer then some of the other brands so it stays in place better. I also read that coloured silicone is possibly unsafe and DivaCup only comes in plain silicone, even though it's definitely less 'fun' looking than some of the other brands.
“I usually have super heavy periods, but the first day I used it, it seemed to be going well, so I even decided to go to the gym! I got through my whole workout before the 'bloodbath' ensued. I'd left it too long and now there was no way to take it out and empty it without getting blood everywhere....in a public toilet. Needless to say it was not a fun experience!
”But the next few days more than made up for it. When flow isn't heavy, it's super convenient! Just empty it once in the morning and once at night and that's it. I actually forgot I had my period. I found the trick to getting a good seal is to fold it in half, get all the air out of it and not let it go until it’s all the way inside. That way it kind of 'suctions' in, which is how it’s supposed to work, I guess, but I found it a bit tricky and sometimes it would leak if I hadn't done it right.
”All in all, I will definitely use it again as its large capacity means I don't have to spend all day running back and forth to the toilet and can sleep through the night. It's much more pleasant to use and less wasteful than pads and tampons and you only have to spend money on it once instead of buying supplies every month. It's a super minimalist approach to periods, you only need the one thing!”
“When flow isn’t heavy, it’s super convenient!”
Meanwhile Cori had mixed feelings about her Diva cup.
“I can honestly give you pros and cons, I found there is a lot of 'hands on' stuff to do so if you’re someone who really doesn’t like touching much down there during your menstrual time, it’s not for you, and if there is no sink where you’re changing the cup, it’s super difficult.
I had to learn that the hard way and had a weird experience wearing the cup on a date. What was awful was that I was in the bathroom with no sink to rinse it and no tissue in the cubicle. Well, thinking on it now I probably could have inserted it again without rinsing but I was in such a panic as I took a long time. My date kept calling me! There were people outside waiting to use the toilet and so I took it out and used a pad, which I always have on me whilst wearing the cup.
“It’s perfect when you’re just at home and for night times, especially if you have a heavy flow.”
Emma, sexual health nurse, gives her verdict on the Lunette menstrual cup:
“I have been meaning to try the menstrual cup for ages, but just hadn’t gotten around to ordering one. My main reason for wanting to use a cup is the impact that sanitary products have on the environment. So, I picked the Lunette cup. It came in a lovely shade of pink.
“I have to say, the first thing I thought when I saw the cup was “that is huge”. It resembles a little bucket…. but I was ready to give it a go. So, I wake up in the morning and know I’m about to start my period. I reach for the Lunette and don’t look back.
”It initially felt a little clunky putting it in, but once you get it in, it slips in to a comfortable position. Within 2 hours of using it, I had informed my best friends on our WhatsApp group that I was now an official user of the menstrual cup and converted…. They called me a hippy and said that they weren’t surprised that out of all of us, I was the first to try.
"When the cup was in place, I managed to get on with my day as usual, I even completed my 20 mins Bodycoach HIIT session and slept in it overnight. The Lunette can stay in place for up to 12 hours, but I didn’t leave it that long. I cautiously changed it more frequently, but I think I could have left it longer.
“I guess the only thing that would be difficult is changing it in public toilets, this is where it would be a good idea to have a spare one with you. I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel about washing my bloody menstrual cup in a public toilet sink!”
”I can happily say that I love my Lunette and will continue to spread the Lunette love.”