- The Mooncup, or MCUK, is a reusable cup that collects menstrual fluid
- The silicone funnel device is often thought of as the preserve of hippies
- But advocates claim they are economical, eco-friendly and comfortable
- Intrigued, one sceptical mother-of-four put the device to the test
08:49 EST, 4 March 2015
10:18 EST, 4 March 2015
Ever thought about switching your tampons for something a little more…sustainable?
Since the menstrual cup – a reusable silicone cup that collects menstrual fluid – is rarely advertised, most women find themselves reluctant to try it.
Writing for Healthista.com, I gave the Mooncup (or MCUK, as it is known in the US) a try – to work out what it is, how to use it, and what it actually feels like.
WARNING: This is one graphic blog. If you are of the male persuasion, it’s best you move on, because I’m going to be talking about (gasp) menstruation.
Specifically, menstrual cups which collect menstrual fluid, unlike tampons and sanitary pads that absorb it.
The Mooncup (or MCUK, as it is known in the US) is a reusable silicone cup that collects menstrual fluid
What draws most women to re-usable menstrual cups is that they are economical, eco-friendly and more comfortable as they don’t cause dryness or irritation – a common bugbear of tampon users.
‘I just feel better about having a Mooncup in my body than I do a tampon,’ one menstrual cup devotee told me.
What draws most women to re-usable menstrual cups is that they are economical, eco-friendly and more comfortable.
Menstrual cups aren’t new – they were patented in 1932 by a group of U.S. midwives.
But not many women use them or even know about them – perhaps due to the fact that menstrual cups aren’t widely promoted – or sold.
Conglomerates such as Procter & Gamble are unlikely to throw big money into a product that only sells once every five years, when they can sell multiple products to one woman every month.
Mother-of-four Genny Wilkinson-Priest says she was initially sceptical about menstrual cups – but was surprised at how effective hers was
With the global tampon market projected to top $2.6 billion in 2015, according to market research firm Global Industry Analysts, why would they put their money anywhere else?
There are many menstrual cup brands on the market — the Femmecup, the Diva Cup, the Intimina and more.
I tried the £18 Mooncup, which like most menstrual cups comes in two sizes: one for women who have given birth before, and one for women who haven’t or are under 30 years of age.
This struck one friend as slightly odd: ‘I was 29 when I tried the Mooncup, which made me rather concerned as to what the hell was going to happen to my vagina on my 30th birthday?
‘Was it going to expand that much?’
When I first opened the package and saw the Mooncup, I thought no freaking way am I putting that up my hoo-ha.
And then I remembered I’ve given birth multiple times.
If I can push a 7lb baby out four times in a five year period, surely I can handle a squishy piece of latex that’s two inches in diameter
When I first opened the package, I thought no freaking way am I putting that up my hoo-ha.
Whether or not you’ve had a baby, it’s dead easy – you fold the latex cup in half, then in half again.
At that point it’s only slightly bigger than a tampon and a whole lot more malleable.
Inserting the Mooncup was a lot easier than I thought. It should sit low in the vagina, with the tip of it sitting just outside your body.
This took some getting used to as a tampon is inserted higher up in the vagina toward the cervix.
Getting it out however, was another matter.
I’ve heard some women reject the menstrual cup on the grounds that it’s the new toy of vintage-shopping, tree-hugging, flat-white drinking, vegan hipster,’ says Ginny. ‘Please. This isn’t a political statement’
The Mooncup has a tendency to migrate upwards – especially if you inserted it too far up to begin with.
If this happens, you have to do a fair bit of rooting around to pull the darn thing out.
Using what is essentially a suction cup is a much more hands-on experience than using a tampon or pad.
A handful of women I spoke to said they found menstrual cups uncomfortable with the edges of the cup digging into their vaginal wall.
‘I spent the day walking like a duck. My friends knew when I was on as I would sit in a slightly odd manner,’ said one.
This, however, wasn’t my experience. I barely noticed it.
You can leave a menstrual cup in for up to eight hours – that’s handy for overnight use.
When it’s time to change, you just tip the fluid into a sink and wash it out before re-inserting.
Many women I spoke to said this was one of the most fascinating aspects of a menstrual cup — you can actually see how much you bleed (the Mooncup is marked with measurements!)
While some women might be put off from witnessing their period up close and personal like this, I found it connected me closer to my body.
I felt as if I was more fully experiencing an aspect of my womanhood that I had in the past treated as a nuisance.
For some women, it’s a matter of safeguarding their sense of what makes them a woman.
‘What draws most women to re-usable menstrual cups is that they are economical, eco-friendly and more comfortable as they don’t cause dryness or irritation – a common bugbear of tampon users,’ says Ginny
As one friend said, ‘After having a baby, something makes me want to protect my vagina more vigilantly, so I don’t want to put anything up there that could be potentially hazardous to my feminine health.’
As a life-long user of tampons I was distrustful of the Mooncup. But there was never a problem.
So, does it actually work?
I was a bit fearful of leaks at first; as a life-long user of tampons I was distrustful of the Mooncup.
But there was never a problem. I went swimming with it, I did dynamic yoga with it (think splits and handstands), and I went to the movies with it.
I am a convert, even as the Mooncup took a fair bit of getting used to.
I’ll probably supplement the Mooncup with tampons when I’m traveling, or on a night out when I know there will be no private sink to sort out your business.
Some women I spoke to said they bring a bottle of water into a public toilet in order to clean out their menstrual cup but this strikes me as more trouble than it’s worth.
I’ve heard some women reject the menstrual cup on the grounds that it’s the new toy of vintage-shopping, tree-hugging, flat-white drinking, vegan hipsters. Please. This isn’t a political statement.
It’s just a feminine hygiene product. One that works, too.
Genny Wilkinson-Priest is a yoga teacher and journalist who lives in London with her four sons.