As if they joy of having a period wasn't enough to leave you with a permanent grin on your face, the fact you also have to pay for sanitary items (AND the tax on top of them) is just the cherry on top of the whole magical menstrual experience.
Tampons and pads can be bloody (lol) expensive every month - not to mention terrible for the environment - so more and more gals are catching on to the genius invention of the mooncup/menstrual cup.
Until you've read all about them, they can seem genuinely terrifying and confusing, so we thought it was about time we filled you in on why they're a great choice to opt for, and how they could totally change your period game.
WTF actually is a moon cup?
If you've literally never heard of 'em before, a mooncup or menstrual cup is a convenient, safe and eco-friendly alternative to tampons, sanitary pads and total free bleeding. It's literally a cup about the size of your palm, made of silicon and totally free from pesticides and bleach. There's LOADS of different types and brands (most are around £20) - there'll be one that's perfect for you and your vajayjay.
All you do is pop it into your vagina, and leave it there to collect your period blood, rather than absorb it. You then easily remove it after around 8 hours, empty the contents, give it a rinse and slide it back in. Simples.
Erm, why would I ever want to get one?
There are SO many benefits to a mooncup that we don't even know where to start, so we're gonna put 'em all in numbered points to reinforce the fact that they're an awesome creation for womenkind.
1. They last for AGES, meaning you only have to buy one every six months (at least) and therefore spend waaaay less money on your period.
2. It's reusable, meaning that it can end the waste and environmental effect that other sanitary products have on the world. Women throw away over 113kg of sanitary waste over the course of a lifetime, and tampons and towels are thought to make up 0.5 per cent of landfill waste. Ugh.
3. While sanitary towels and tampons contain pesticides and bleach, mooncups are totally free of 'em, meaning it's less likely to upset the delicate pH balance of your bits.
4. The fact it's only catching period blood means that it's way better for the general health of your vagina, as it won't dry you out like tampons do when they suck out ALL your lady moisture.
5. There's no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. There's never been a case of TSS caused by a mooncup recorded, which is pretty amazing.
6. Bit gross for some, but for others being able to see your blood means you get to know your body in an awesome way. FASCINATING.
7. They literally FREE YOU from your period. You never have to worry about running out of tampons, it's not messy once you've mastered it and it can eliminate cramps for a lot of women too.
How the heck do you put it in?
It might take a little bit of practice, but inserting your mooncup is super easy once you get the hang of it. While the rim of the cup might look huuuge, you actually fold it in on itself before you slide it on upwards, either when you're sitting down on the loo or when you're standing up (whatever's comfiest).
Because it's folded flat while being inserted, the size isn't an issue for inserting it inside yourself, and because the silicone is so soft, it's completely flexible and adapts to your body. It's also much nicer in general to insert as it's not dry and friction-causing like a tampon.
Different gals use different methods of folding, but YouTube is full of tutorials and suggestions to help you find the easiest one for you.
And errr, how do you get it out?
Just the same way you do with a tampon, really, but probably a bit slower and with slightly more care. You kind of hover over the loo, put your fingers up your vag to kind of grab hold of the stem part or the cup itself, and then you pull it out slowly. When it's just out you might get a slight squelchy noise, and then you can tip it straight into the loo. Hey presto.
You miiiight end up with serial killer hands after emptying, but you can always just wipe that off with some tissue before you head out into public loos to wash them properly. Just don't pull the stem out too fast, otherwise it can flick out and get EVERYWHERE. Slow and steady innit.
How do you know when it's full?
Technically, you won't know when it's full, but for hygiene reasons you're supposed to empty your cup every 4 to 8 hours, but because there's no risk of TSS like there is with tampons, it doesn't matter too much if you keep it in for longer.
Once you start using a mooncup, you take it out every four hours to gauge how often you'll need to change it by learning how heavy your flow is and the difference on different days. It is true that the more full the cup is, the more likely it's going to get a bit messy, so as long as you keep on top of it then you'll have no probs.
Can your period blood leak out of it?
A menstrual cup will have zero leakage providing it's used correctly and the cup isn't too full, but it will take a bit of practice to figure out how to do it properly. Think of your first try or two as a test run, and don't get discouraged if it's not perfect to start with. If you're worried about it, you could always pair a menstrual cup with a panty liner.
Do you end up weeing on it?
Well no, because your mooncup in is in your vagina and wee comes out of your urethra. Just try not to drop it into the actual loo, because then you probably will and it'll be a general disaster.
AGH, the nightmare situation. Can it fall out?
Just like tampons don't fall out, this won't either. If anything, it's the opposite. The mooncup and its ridged design form a vacuum with your vagina and those muscles are pretty strong, so it ain't gonna budge until you pinch it with your fingers to break that suction. Nearly all brands of mooncup come in varying sizes (usually either if you've had a baby or not a baby). The smaller you go, the more likely your vagina's gonna be able to keep it gripped.
Can you use it with a heavy period, though?
Yes you can, menstrual cups are actually great for girls with heavy periods, because on average they collect two and half to four times more blood than tampons do, so you'll have to faff around with it all way less than you normally would do. Result.
How do you wash it and is it gross?
Ideally, pop into the disabled loo where you've got the toilet and the sink all behind one locked door. If not, just tip all the blood out and then just pop it straight back up - but give it a really thorough rinse when you can.
Of course, you can always just take it to the sinks if you're not worried about it, but a lot of girls probably wouldn't be cool doing that. You could always take a bottle of water into the cubicle with you and do it that way.
You need to properly sterilise it after each time you use it though, which basically means boiling it in a (separate, non food use) saucepan, so that's nice. or putting it in the dishwasher (rinse it first so there's no bloody bits on it). Don't be grossed out by it - let's be honest, it's hilarious. Also, the more you boil it, the softer it'll become for folding.
I'm still freaked out/grossed out/terrified of them
Yeah, they're probably not for everyone, and if you get squeamish when thinking about dealing with your own period blood then it's probably not the method for you, pal. It's best to just read all you can about the idea, and if you still don't like the sound of it then at least you've done your research. But JUST THINK - it's cheaper, safer and generally less of a faff than pads and tampons, so it's definitely at least worth giving a mooncup a go. Just errr, remove slowly.