Raising my cup.


6 March, 2011

This post is about my reflections on using a menstrual cup over the last few months. It’ll be a frank discussion of the pros and cons of using the cup, so if you’re not keen for a bit of chat about menstruation and the various ways I’ve dealt with it I suggest clicking away!

When I first read a book that dealt with menstruation (was it Judy Blume? I can’t remember) it talked about using these scary contraptions consisting of belts and stuff that connected with them and it all seemed really confusing and horrible. The above advertisement doesn’t make it look scary at all but I dreaded getting my period until I realised that it was the ’90s and there had been some advancements in the menstrual product industry that did away with belts other such contraptions. When I got my first period I didn’t freak out because I’d been expecting it, and I went to the stash of pads my mother had given me in preparation for that day and went about my business. I didn’t even tell my mother until later!

Before disposable products were put on the market during last century, people had been using a huge variety of ways to deal with menstruation. At the bottom of this page on the Museum of Menstruation a retired teacher talks about her family’s methods and they include using sheepskin, cheesecloth and towels. I have a feeling that modern advancements towards disposable products, away from washing and reusing, have contributed to my own negative feelings about menstruation and period “blood” because with disposable products all I’ve ever had to do was throw stuff away instead of actually processing what my body was going through. When I first heard about menstrual cups I was admittedly pretty squicked. Of course it was the way the notion of cups had been presented to me that had led to my negative reaction because cups were framed in a “gross, omg collecting period blood to use for ~menstrual art~” way. That kind of thing seems to be the norm. Instead of thinking of menstruation as a normal thing, we’ve been told to speak about it in hushed and hygienic tones, divorcing ourselves from our bodies so that we can minimise contact with functions that make us animal.

It was about a year ago I started to rethink my initial reaction to menstrual cups. A few people I knew started using them and while some thought they were great, others found cups didn’t work for them. I was curious. I’d also done some calculations on how many pads and tampons I’d bought and disposed of in my life and the numbers were huge. Opting out of consumerism by saving money and reducing landfill appealed to me so I decided to investigate buying a cup.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.