By Kate Branum
Periods—the inconvenient, sometimes unanticipated monthly guests. Though it’s become second-nature by now, I think I speak for most women when I say preparatory (or emergency) trips to the grocery store to restock my supply of tampons have become one of my least favorite errands. I had decided on my go-to brand years ago, a reliable standby that had a permanent place in my bathroom cabinet, and I wasn’t interested in switching it up.
I had heard about menstrual cups, a trend I deemed complicated and only for the brave women among us. I have friends who swear by them, co-workers who can’t imagine life without them, yet I couldn’t wrap my mind having one of those little, silicone vessels up in my business; I mean, how do they, you know, go in? I didn’t bother researching menstrual cups, nor did I gather any tips and tricks from my cup-clad girlfriends. I didn’t even think about menstrual cups again until my coworker suggested reaching out to Ruby Cup. I thought, “Here’s my chance to take a risk,” and wow, am I glad I did.
My Ruby Cup arrived by mail in a feminine box with welcoming pink script, accompanied by a small booklet of simple, easy-to-follow instructions (complete with diagrams) and a cute drawstring pouch to store the cup when it’s not in use. I experienced a surge of “no turning back now” anxiety as a I placed the box in my bathroom drawer and counted down the days until my next period.
The first time I used my menstrual cup, I was traveling. Before I left, I shoved a box of tampons in my suitcase, just in case, and made my way to the bathroom to test the cup, armed with the instruction guide and patience. Overall, the insertion process took one whole minute. I remember thinking, “Wait, that’s it?” It wasn’t painful, uncomfortable or traumatic—the flexible cup fit like a glove! I kept waiting for my body to protest the foreign object I had just introduced with a wave of gut-wrenching cramps, but it never did—not in the first minute and not at the end of my 10-hour road trip that day. Actually, I forgot my “emergency” tampons at the hotel that weekend.
One of the best things about using a menstrual cup, besides the environmentally-friendly aspect of it, is the fact that you don’t have to check on it often. As someone with a moderate to light flow, the longest I’ve gone without having to empty it out is 12 hours, which took me awhile to get used to, because I had always swapped my tampons out every couple of hours. Don’t worry about bacteria or unwelcome odor–the cup is made of medical-grade silicone and suctions securely around the cervix. I’ve been using the menstrual cup for two months now, and have never experienced any of the typical smells or annoying leaks that notoriously sneak past tampons.
The next best part about using a menstrual cup? It can be used month after month, saving you a portion of your paycheck usually reserved for tampons and pads. Once you have your cup, all you have to do is gently wash it out when Aunt Flow leaves, and it’s good to go for next month. I haven’t set foot in the feminine hygiene aisle since receiving a menstrual cup, and my wallet loves me for it.
Since switching to the menstrual cup, my period isn’t a burden–in fact, it feels just like any other week in the month. For the first time, I never have to plan fun summer outings, like swimming, camping or road-tripping, around my menstrual cycle, which is a breath of fresh air. I get it now, the “life-changing” aspect of the menstrual cup pushed so enthusiastically by all who have taken the leap.
Take back that fourth week of the month. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you.