I am very excited to hit “publish” on something SO MANY of you guys have been asking for–my honest period cup review!
Let’s start from the beginning, if you missed it a few months back: I have NEVER. IN. MY. LIFE. Received so many DM’s on Instagram as the day I announced that I was going to try out the Diva cup. I had been hearing a lot about it lately, and I thought it was something I should try out for myself–purely out of curiosity.
The first time I tried it, I shared my VERY unfiltered opinions of it as a first time user on Instagram stories. (I was, frankly, very caught off guard. Horrified would be a good word. NOT. A. FAN. SO MUCH BLOOD. I wasn’t prepared. )
**This is the part where I should tell any squeamish readers that the topic of “menstrual blood” will be coming up more than once today. If you need to pause and go put on your big girl pants before returning to this article, feel free to do so. ?
(Also…I don’t think I have any of male readers, but hopefully today was not the day my father in law or grandfather in law decided to catch up on my blog ?)**
I quickly learned that a period cup is perhaps one of the most polarizing topics one can post about on social media:
First, I was flooded by VERY passionate opinions of why the period cup is superior and that I should JUST give it another try.
“You will never go back to tampons again!!” you said.
On the flip side, I got a lot of comments like, “that’s literally the grossest thing I’ve ever heard of–but this is highly entertaining. Thank you for trying it so I know I never have to bother.”
These comments also made me laugh: “Oh don’t worry girlfriend–once you have kids, that’s NOTHIN’!!” ?
“OH GET OVER IT, YOU DRAMA QUEEN. It’s your BODY! It’s NATURAL–you should never be grossed out over something that is natural–the female body is a BEAUTIFUL MIRACLE!”
(You’re REALLY going to make that argument? Know what else is natural? Diarrhea. Is that beautiful? Why aren’t you waxing poetic about Montezuma’s revenge?)
“You are period shaming and this is why girls feel dirty and ashamed by menstruation!! Shame on you!!”
(OK–I was not aware girls feel dirty and ashamed by menstruation. I apologize for offending you or if you think I am uneducated by this– I do not run with a lot of teenage girls in my circle at the moment so I hope you can understand. However, I do think it’s a LITTLE BIT bit of a dramatic stretch to say that a woman is “period shaming” by expressing her general opinion of being grossed out by emptying a CUP of gelatinized menstrual blood. ?
I share this response to the above, my friend, so it can be known that I am in the camp of *there are no wrong reactions to have to your period blood* and I will not deem you a period shamer regardless of your reaction as you read the rest of this article. If you are grossed out, I won’t judge you. That’s literally WHY I wrote this post. You’ve got a frieeenndddd in meee. ?)
Above all––there were just so many curious questions in general:
How does it work? When do you change it? How long can you wear it? Why is it better than tampons? Can you wear it overnight? Does it leak? How do you clean it? How OFTEN do you clean it? What happens if you have to change it in a public bathroom?
Women just have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS on period cups––clearly this topic was something I needed to play closer attention to.
“I’ll give it a 48 hour trial run” I told myself, for the sake of investigative reporting. (I was a Journalism major, after all. I know that surprises some of you because I have typos in my blog posts, but this is because I never have time to proofread them. #ProgressOverPerfection.)
ANYWAY. Despite my initial reactions and the passionate opinions on all sides–as you can probably tell from the title–there was a plot twist. I am officially a period cup convert.
Here’s how it happened:
Jess’ Period Cup Review
P.S. Wearing my Tres Americain Femme Next Door tee from my sweet friend Juley!
I had been curious about this “period cup” thing forever. I first learned what a period cup was a few years back–I was repulsed by the idea and thought it was something only dirty hippies use. (Sorry dirty hippies, I don’t have anything against you, we just have different lifestyles, you know?) I REALLY didn’t really understand why anyone would want to do such a thing. Who wants to…um, dump out a cup of their own blood every day? GROSS.
But, they’ve slowly been gaining popularity, and someone who is very close to me started using the Diva cup, and was telling me how life changing it was. (I will not mention who she is exactly, because she probably doesn’t want hundreds of thousands of people knowing such intimate details).
Anyway, she convinced me to give it a go in lieu of my tampons for the following reasons:
Benefits of period cups vs tampons & pads:
You can 12+ hours at a time without worry:
Fairly self explanatory, but a cup can hold a LOT more blood than a tampon. It’s really a “set it and forget it” kind of thing.
This is kind of graphic, but the cup kind of creates a seal–there is no leakage whatsoever as long as it’s inserted properly.
A huge factor for me. Soggy string. Ew. Enough said. Lack of string is especially great during the summer, if you’re swimming, etc.
I’ve never been a fan of pads–they feel like diapers to me. But if you’re one who wears pads, this is SO MUCH BETTER.
Tampons are full of TONS of awful chemicals. Just one example, tampons are made of cotton and almost all non-organic cotton is sprayed with round-up. And when you put that product in one of the most permeable space in your body, that goes directly into your blood stream…well. You get the picture. Yes, you find a lot of conflicting evidence out there–are they toxic enough to really affect your health? I mean–I don’t really want ANY percentage of round-up in my body? All I know is, if there’s a better alternative that doesn’t pose that risk–why wouldn’t I choose that? If you’re curious, this Goop article (one of my favorite websites!) was very informative on the toxins in tampons.
Less TSS scares:
According to my research, there have been only 2 reported cases of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) caused by cups since their invention, likely from prolonged use–so it’s far less than tampons, but it doesn’t mean the risk is completely eliminated. It’s important to not leave it in too long, make sure you’re washing it in hot water, and to ensure your hands are clean when using it.
Better for the environment:
As you can imagine, millions of tampons a year aren’t doing a lot of good for our planet. I’m not going to lie, I like to do what I can to make a difference, but as bad as this probably sounds, this factor would not be enough for me to make the switch on its own, but it is nice to know that it’s one more thing I can do to help make a difference in the environment. Essentially, every period cup is an eco friendly cup!
No more ruined underwear:
I don’t think there is a woman out there who can’t sympathize with ruining a perfectly great pair of underwear with blood stains. This was probably my #1 biggest issue with tampons–ALWAYS LEAKS. This does not happen with a period cup!
I had read that the first time you use a cup, it can take a few tries to insert it correctly. I really didn’t have an issue–all you do is fold it up, stick it up there, and it pops open. You just insert it like you would a tampon that didn’t have an applicator. To make sure it’s sealed properly, you can pull down on the stem a tiny bit to ensure it pops into place.
Okay, easy enough. It was comfortable, I didn’t feel it. I could do pretty much anything I wanted and it would stay in place.
Then came time to empty it, like I mentioned above–I wasn’t a fan. It was gross. But I made the mistake of NOT emptying it into the toilet (I should’ve asked you guys first) and I emptied it all out into the sink–so, yeah, that was just TOO up close and graphic for me. Once I started emptying it in the toilet, it became much more manageable.
Overall, I LOVED that you can wear it for so long and it’s essentially like you don’t have a period at all. I honestly forget that I’m on it. Obviously, you can’t forget you have your period with a tampon in, since you’re reminded of it several times per day. I slowly got used to the “changing” portion of the cup, and after that, I never looked back. I even shocked myself.
Fast forward several months, and I forgot to bring my cup with me to Mexico, and I got my period the day before we left, so I had to spend the last day at the pool wearing tampons. “I wonder if this will make me miss tampons?” I thought. But I was SO ANNOYED that I had to use them, I cursed myself all day for forgetting my cup.
It made me think of my friend Emily, who moved to Europe and has since become an adorable expat, who is a pro-cup supporter for life–she said, “Now I think TAMPONS are gross!!” (Shout out to you, Em. You were right!)
I DO think tampons are gross. Tampon strings in a bathing suit? Tampon strings in the pool? WOOF.
Consider me a retired tampon user, for life.
What is a period cup?
We should probably back up and cover some basics, in case the cup is a new concept for you as it was once for me a few short months ago. For those who don’t know–a period cup is essentially a small, flexible cup made of silicone or rubber that does the same job of tampons or pads. They’re re-usable, and you can’t feel them at all!
Now, let’s go over some FAQ’s:
How to use period cups–insertion and removal:
To insert: Fold it in half (although, the folding methods can vary by cup, but I just think it’s easiest to fold in half) insert it like you would a tampon without an applicator, and it pops open once it’s up there, forming a seal that catches blood. You can wear it for up to 12 hours. (I change mine twice a day.)
To remove: Most cups have a stem you can use pull it out, but personally I think it’s easier to pinch the base of the cup (which breaks the seal and releases the suction) so it’s much easier to remove this way. Tip it out in the toilet, and rinse it in the sink. Rinse it off with hot water and non-toxic soap or a fragrance-free cup wash like this one. If you don’t have non-toxic soap, it’s better to just use hot water. You don’t want toxic chemicals penetrating the silicone, potentially causing irritation and going directly into your bloodstream!
*Yes, it’s really gross at first (it’s better if you don’t watch the emptying process) but you get used to it, and it definitely is worth all the added benefits. After a few uses it doesn’t phase you as much.*
Tip: The BEST tip I got from you guys is this: change it while you’re in the shower. It’s SO MUCH BETTER and cleaner.
After your period: Sterilize it in boiling water for a few minutes and store it in the little bag it comes with. (They all come with a cute little bag.)
Period cup sizes:
There are different cup sizes and every brand is different. The Diva Cup, for example, comes in two sizes–ready for it? For those under 30 and those over 30. *Twist the knife.* This isn’t as much sized based (i.e. Light or Heavy) but I think more just based on fitting your body correctly.
Other brands, though, like the Lena cup, which is my favorite, do come in two sizes designed for lighter or heavier periods. I have the heavier size (the one pictured here) but it’s still really small!
Downsides of using period cups:
There are really very few downsides besides the obvious. It takes a bit to get over the blood factor and there is a slightly larger learning curve with it than you’d find using a tampon for the first time, but once you get the hang of it–you will be a total convert.
The only issue you might run into is needing to empty your cup when you’re out in a public place–i.e. if you’re in a public bathroom with communal sinks. BUT, what you can do is carry some natural, non-toxic wipes with you to clean it off with without having to leave the bathroom stall. (I actually haven’t had to do this, and you probably won’t either because you can wear them for so long at a time, but just a heads up–it’s doable.)
They also take some getting used to, and they aren’t as “one size fits all” as tampons are. You may need to try out a few to figure out which shape and size works best for you!
Comparing a few period cup brands:
Here’s the thing–this is not a once size fits all thing. Every woman is different, so the fit of every cup is going to be unique for each person. I read this period cup review and comparison article after I purchased my first cup, which was helpful, but at the same time–it said things like, “great for those with high cervixes” or “good for those with long vaginas.” ?
Oh, I’m sorry–call me naive, but I don’t exactly have a frame of reference with this stuff–HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW IF I HAVE A HIGH CERVIX? Should I ring up my gyno and say, “Hey! Dr. Jahedi, I know you haven’t seen me in 8 months and this probably isn’t in your notes–but from your recollection, would you say I have a high or low cervix?” ?
Regardless, here are the two I’ve tried:
This is what I first started using–I purchased it on a whim at Walgreens because it’s the one I’d heard most about and one of the only brands widely available in stores. I liked it well enough to never go back to using tampons, but there were some downsides that lead me to switch. Honestly, I used it for a few months, but I did have problems with leaks overnight. (I won’t go into details, just trust me. It wasn’t great.)
Also the thing I hated most about the Diva cup: It’s clear. CLEAR. Who on EARTH wants a clear period cup!? I also hated that the stem was hollow, meaning, you could never really clean it that well. Gross! Without getting graphic, it didn’t stay “clear” for very long and soon got stained and looked like something that belonged in a dumpster. Which is exactly where it went when I decided to replace it with…
The best period cup for me:
I did some review stalking and decided to order the Lena cup because it came in a large size (ok, but it’s still really small) for heavier periods. (I.E. If you need say, super tampons–this would be a good cup for you.)
I’ve been using the Lena cup for two months now and I absolutely LOVE IT. I have had ZERO problems with leaks–and the “super” cup is still very small. (It’s the one in the photos!) For those not on hormonal birth control, you probably know what I mean. ?Your period is naturally just a lot heavier–so this is what works best for me!
I also think it’s a more flexible, softer cup, so therefore it’s easier to take in and out and is more comfortable than the Diva cup. The other great thing–it comes in colors. I ordered purple and it has stayed the same exact color. It’s made of 100% medical grade silicone. (I know the colored dye used isn’t ideal, but it’s medical-grade dye) and the packaging is made from 100% recycled paper and vegetable-based ink.
WHEW! That was a lot of ground to cover! Well, I hope this was helpful and answers all your questions, rather than being a TMI fest. Do you have more period cup questions? You know I’m an open book, haha–leave them below!