The Moon Cup

Brace yourselves, male readers. This is going to be a bloody good time.
  

I remember vividly the day when my regular carefree pig-tailed potty break was violently disrupted with a reddish brown stain in my undies. With tears in my eyes, I nervously approached my mom as she stood at the ironing board watching QVC. She had a crush on the young male host and kept him busy with purchases of sterling silver jewelry, and I was delighted to assist in maintaining his employment with ceramic teddybear Christmas decorations. But today I needed her help, and not his charming retail wiles. I was a tween transformed and I needed to know how to keep the bloody mess off my Hanes Her Ways. Long gone were the days where we would straddle piles of straw and hang out in tented seclusion with our female elders. Now our piles of straw had to be portable and discreet. As a tween in the late 80’s, disposable feminine hygiene was the only way to keep the spots off my pink Bongo jeans.

Mom introduced me to the Kotex maxi pad. A giant wad of adhesive-backed absorption. It was like walking with a pillow strapped between my legs and I was certain that my crotch could be seen from outer space. Several times a day, five days in a row, 13 times a year I’d fill the wastebasket with a heavily toilet-paper wrapped soiled maxi pad. And with 4 ladies in the house, the waste would add up in a rapid way.

Then one day I stole a Tampax from my older sister’s stash. It was high time I got a bit more savvy with my self-cleansing and started shoving cotton inside my body, instead of against it. Oh my god, the trials of the first tampon insertion. I knew I had a hole there, so why wouldn’t it go in! Push push, cry. Push push cry. It would take multiple attempts before I had mastered the art of internal menstrual absorption, an experience I’ve learned is not unique to me. Recently one mama shared with me a story of her daughter having the same difficulty of “why won’t it go in?!” Frustrated sobbing could be heard from the other side of the bathroom door. And finally the daughter asked her mom to come inside and physically help her get it in there. Yep. There's that to look forward to. 

But even once I got the little cylinder of terror  properly in place, it would take a great deal of time before it wouldn’t feel like there was a pencil case inside my body. And even then, is there a woman among us who doesn't know the discomfort of tampon-induced dryness, or the “oh shit it’s coming out!” panic at a party? Even if you can say to me with 100% honesty that the tampon slider effect has never happened to you, or you’ve never “lost” the string and had to go spelunking, or you’ve never felt your vagina go as dry as Ben Stein’s sense of humor, what you cannot deny is the resulting garbage. MOST women use tampons with plastic applicators, because for some reason they’ll stick their fingers in their noses but not in their own vaginas. That’s a lot of plastic just to gain a second of smooth traction. Even if you opt for the applicator-free like I did, there’s still the issue of disposal. Just because something is "disposable" it doesn't mean that it actually goes away. They are single use products that amass to the MILLIONS being thrown away each year. They consume resources, they don't magically disappear into pixie dust, and they're a pain in the ass for our wastewater treatment facilities. 1

Yet I have always used disposable feminine hygiene products. They work in the same way that disposable diapers work: you are guaranteed to have a mess on your hands at some point.  You trade one aspect of perceived convenience for another of bodily discomfort and a whole lot of trash. It was decided: a bunch of bleached cotton stuffed up my hoo hoo just could not remain my menstrual way of life. I wanted to find a different solution. One that was healthier for my body, better for the planet, and would maybe even save me some change. 

I contacted Tracy at GladRags (another stupendous Portland company) and asked if she would be willing to send me The Moon Cup, a reusable menstrual cup made of medical-grade silicone. I wanted to give it a go with the next flow and report back to my gajillion readers. She did. Along with a reusable panty liner. It would be a few weeks before I would get the chance to use it, but I was eager. Come on body, do that massive biological feat of yours and get to self-cleansing! For the first time in my life (with the exception of a few “oh thank god it finally arrived!” moments) I was really excited to get my period.

This is what The Moon Cup looks like. The action figure provided for size reference. 




Then, of course, it was pointed out to me that no one knows exactly how big that little guy is. So here’s the little guy next to my thumb. 

 I could have simply shown you The Moon Cup next to my thumb originally, but then I wouldn’t have had the chance to do this. 



The Moon Cup size A is specific for women who have had a vaginal birth or two. Things change down there, ya know. But there are other cup options for women who have not pushed a human through their vagina. The cup came in a soft cotton pouch for safe-keeping and toting, along with a set of simple instructions for cleaning and inserting. 

I wasn’t confident that I would be able to fold this thing the way the instructions told me to. It seemed pretty sturdy, too sturdy to fold in half. But lo and behold, I’d done it. And once folded, it reminded me of a Wallace and Gromit-type smile. Gummy-lipped and friendly, probably just hoping for some toast and tea. I grabbed the smile and headed south. 

Now, listen, the sound of The Moon Cup going in might make you think of Alien. A little slurpy. And the sound coming out might remind you of the last time you plunged the toilet. Get over that. Or wear noise-cancelling headphones. Or just embrace it as you have embraced the pillow crotch or dry vagina effects of the other fem-hy options. I have come to not only embrace these suckery sounds, but to even make my own accompanying "thwup!" for menstrual harmony. 

So there it was. My own lunar landing. And I was pretty sure it was in there right. One thing was certain. Once the cup unfolded inside me like a pop-up tent, it was in there with authority. It didn’t matter if my uterine lining sluffed off lead barbells and miniature old timey weight-lifters with handlebar ‘staches. It was not going to fall out.

The silicone stem (this is the piece that you grasp to remove the cup) would occasionally brush against my underwear at first, which had me concerned that somehow I had messed up somewhere in the super simple process. But a quick trip to the loo and the slightest of re-adjustment (without removal) and I was good to go. I couldn’t feel a thing. 

Unlike other fem-hy options, The Moon Cup can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time. This is because 1) it’s made of medical-grade silicone that won’t jack your innards, and 2) because it’s got, like, Amazon-warehouse-size storage capacity. This is a huge bonus (particularly as I write this from high above your fair city on a long flight home and I can tell you, from present experience, this is indeed the way to travel. Period.).  When it’s time to take it out, whether you go 2 hours or 12, simply reach in there, grab the stem, tug, and ta da. You have a shot glass filled with feminine science. Dump it in the toilet. Wash the cup with hot water and soap. Make your Wallace and Grommit smile folds and prepare for launch once again.

I didn’t experience a single leak with The Moon Cup. I used the reusable panty-liner that Tracy sent me as a precaution. But it wasn’t necessary. However, when conditions lightened up, I ditched the cup and went for the liner. It was soft. A bit bulkier than my underwear, and I’ll admit I’m still not quite used to it. But I’ll get there. This is, after all, in the name of science, feminine health, and the wellness of our planet. I am completely sold on The Moon Cup and can think of no reason where I will ever need to buy disposable liners, pads or tampons again.

There will come a day, sooner than I'd care to admit, when my daughter, Magnolia will come up to me while I am tending to my motherly rituals of browsing the latest online discounts at REI  and not-ironing. And she might be crying because that stain in her undies is unfamiliar and frightening. Or she might be prancing because it’s new and thrilling. I’ll give her a massive hug and cover her in kisses, and we’ll talk about periods without shame or disgust. Then we’ll head out to get her own set of Glad Rags reusable cloths, and later, if or when she’s ready, she can have her own lunar landing.

- Kelli

p.s. GladRags did not pay me to write this. I reached out with a request to try The Moon Cup and write a review, and they graciously said yes. This is my own true bloody experience. Leave your questions, or comments on your own experience, in the comments below. Shop for The Moon Cup and other non-toxic feminine hygiene products at GladRags.com.

1. Check out this blog for some seriously fascinating investigations into the trouble with disposable feminine hygiene. http://secretlifeoftampons.tumblr.com/

Comments

Molly said…
Thanks for the reminder, I am ordering one of these fancy-schmancy cups of joy. I tried a different version and brand about 8 years ago and it wasn't quite up to scratch. But this, this sounds like perfection.
Katie said…
This is an AWESOME blog! I can't believe it has taken me 3 years of g's to come read your humor! I also love my moon cup and am handing them out to any female relatives or friends that are willing to try!
Aminah said…
After my flow returned post child birth #2 last January I decided to try the Diva cup. I've known about these "femine science" catchers for quite some time but felt awkward about collecting it all day. What prompted me to try the Diva cup (which is exactly like the Moon cup) was that I couldn't find the brand I had been using pre pregnancy locally. Plus I wasn't looking forward to continuously purchasing cotton to bleed on over and over again. I'm so glad that I've made the switch! So easy and I love not being reminded every 2 hrs that I'm not on my period.
Sarah said…
I love you and your approach to things. I may be convinced....maybe ;)
Erin said…
I've been using the Diva Cup for about 2 years now, and it completely revolutionized my life as a woman. I love it. And I absolutely love your writing.
Enie Dub said…
Great post!! You have a great writing style.

I'm an avid mooncupper!
Anonymous said…
I've used the Mooncup for years, although I use the UK version: http://www.mooncup.co.uk/wc.php?u=1741
jlr said…
I've been using my menstrual cup since 2001. iI can't imagine using tampons ever again!
jlr said…
I've been using my menstrual cup since 2001. iI can't imagine using tampons ever again!
Lei said…
It certainly works out to be a cheaper alternative.

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