When I wrote the title, my first thought was that if you periods are actually green, you should probably see a doctor.
I’ve been using a menstrual cup for over 3 years now. It has not been continuous – in the first year I went back to pads and tampons a few times and twice I went over 100 days without any period. It took a year and a half for me to finally start supplementing with cloth pads. But I finally do have a completely waste free period!
I could sing the praises of reusable period products all day, but if I’m completely honest, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Pads and tampons aren’t either, of course. Disposable period products are bad for your wallet – you have to remember to buy them every month. They are bad for the environment – women produce tremendous amounts of waste each month! They are bad for your schedule – they must be changed every few hours, with embarrassing to disastrous effects if you don’t! And they are bad for your body. Most brands are bleached and treated with chemicals. With tampons there is the risk of TSS and the problem with those chemicals being in intimate contact with a mucus membrane. Pads have slightly less intimate contact, but can still be irritating, especially as they rub against sensitive skin.
None of that is a concern when you say yes to green periods.
What is a concern? Well, the number one concern of most people is hygiene. They think resuable products are really gross. And well….they are kind of right. When you grow up in a disposable culture, it can be really nice to just toss all of your menstrual waste in the garbage. And when it is thoroughly absorbed into a pad or tampon, you don’t even really need to look at it! It takes a slightly stronger stomach to get up close and personal with menstrual blood. You might even need to touch it.
Here’s the thing: Women used reusable for thousands of years, and nobody died from it. (this is not a verified fact, I’m just trying to make a point)
Yes, it’s gross. I’m not going to pretend that I enjoy rinsing out a cloth pad. I definitely don’t enjoy when my cup is too full and it spills over as a remove it. Sometimes my right hand looks like I disemboweled someone. It’s a thing. But I live with it. I flush the toilet and wash my hands and my menstrual cup. I reinsert it and go about my day, content in knowing that I did not produce any waste and that I am treating my body well.
You do need to be concerned about hygiene. This is, after all, blood that we are dealing with. Treat it as you would any other blood that you produce when cleaning it. But the gross factor is something that you will just need to get over. And that comes with time.
A lot of people also worry about the upfront cost. Menstrual cups and pads can be quite expensive. I totally understand that it can be difficult to put that kind of cash down for somethings you aren’t positive that you will like. Definitely shop around and read reviews to help you determine what is best for you. To help with cost, scroll to the bottom to find a 10% off coupon for my favorite menstrual cup!
And remember, reusable menstrual products are cheaper! A cup may be more expensive than a box of tampons, but do some math. How much does the menstrual cup you are looking at cost? How much do you spend on tampons a month? How long until your cup is paid off? Reusable menstrual products can last for years, and will easily save you money in the long run. Just one upfront cost, then free periods!
Tips and Tricks for Green Periods
Alright. So you have you cloth pads and menstrual cups. What do you do with them now? And holy crap they are huge. Those can’t be comfortable…
Well, they only will be if you do it right, and this takes some practice. I find longer cloth pads are more comfortable, as the edges don’t rub on my sensitive bits. I also only use them for back up and light days because I find cups do a much better job of dealing with heavy flow for me. If you are only using light day cloth pads, their bulk should not be an issue. Just put them in and go!
Now, menstrual cups. You’ve seen how big those are, right Chloe? Yes, I have. And I’ve even had a couple different sizes of them successfully inside of me! TMI? Eh, we’re writing a post about periods.
The biggest trick to making a menstrual cup comfortable is to have it properly inserted. This will get easier with practice, as you learn how it works with your body and where you need things to be. For full insertion (and removal) instructions, click here. For me, I find that using the punch down fold described here works best. I find rotating the cup very difficult, and have never achieved a full 360 degree rotation. However, as I learned how the cup and my body react to one other, I have found that as long as I feel it open, get it fully inserted, and then walk around for about half an hour and maybe do some squats, I don’t have an issue with leaking. Feel free to experiment if the standard instructions don’t quite work for you.
Here’s the part people worry the most about. Removing and cleaning reusable menstrual products. A necessary evil for green periods, but one that is totally worth it! How frequently you need to change cloth pads will depend on the pad and your flow. Purchase extra liners to save money by changing the liners as needed, and only changing the pad “base” once a day.
To clean cloth pads, your best bet to is get them soaking in water, or at least rinse them out, as soon as they are removed. This will prevent the blood from drying and staining too badly. They can then be washed in your normal laundry – think how you would treat blood stains on any other piece of clothing. You can also buy special cleaners to help with staining and scent on pads. I find these unnecessary, but if you choose to use them, make sure they are natural products meant for cloth pads – they will be the least likely to cause irritation. Note: If you leave cloth pads to soak, change the water every day. You don’t want to smell multiple day old period water. Ask me how I know.
For menstrual cups, it’s super easy and only needs to be done every 12 hours. Simply remove the cup, dump the contents, and rinse it out in the sink with water. To remove, focus more on bearing down to lower the cup until you can break the seal. This will be much better for you and the cup rather than just pulling on the stem. I do usually need to pull on the stem as well, but it is the bearing down that will move the cup most effectively. When washing, use a gentle, natural, fragrance-free soap if you wish. Then reinsert and go about your day! At the end of your period, it is recommended that you boil your cup for 5 minutes before storing it for the next month.
My heart goes out to menstrual cups
Cloth pads are great. I am very thankful for the back up and some days I’m too lazy to deal with a cup. But cups are lovely. You can leave them in for 12 hours with no fear of toxic shock syndrome, and when inserted properly they will not leak. Bye-bye tampons! I also find cups to be much more comfortable than tampons ever were, including during sports, and they don’t dry me out since they collect rather than absorb.
But how to you know which cup to choose? This is hard. Cloth pads tend to all look the same, but menstrual cups are clearly different. They come in different shapes, sizes, and heights. They have differences in rigidity and you will see all types of stems. Which is best for you?
Most companies will give you guidelines for what size to choose, but as far as which company to go with…I can tell you my personal preference, but I can’t tell you it will be your vagina’s best friend.
I liked my first menstrual cup plenty good, but it had some bits I wasn’t crazy about. So I began to research new cups, which is how I found SckoonCup. On paper, it has all you could ask for in a menstrual cup, such as being made in the USA from medical-grade silicone. But my current cup was doing fine, and I wasn’t ready to spend money on a new one. So when I was selected to write a review in exchange for a free SckoonCup, I was super pumped.
My first menstrual cup was firmer and much longer than SckoonCup. While I couldn’t feel it when inserted properly, I would struggle occasionally to do so. This would leave me able to feel the stem irritating my sensitive skin. This was the first thing I noticed about SckoonCup – it is short and the stem is incredibly flexible and soft. Even if the cup is sitting a bit lower than it should, I am unable to feel it at all. This is aided by how short and soft it is. And yet, the height give me no trouble inserting and removing it. WhooHoo!
One thing of note is that SckoonCup does become thicker toward the top, and has a sizeable rim. The entire cup, including the holes at the top, is continuous which makes it very smooth. However, the rim is a bit large for me and if the cup opens before the rim moves past my vaginal muscles, it can be quite uncomfortable. Once it is high enough, however, I can’t feel a thing. I have fewer problems with leaking during the day, too. I have loved menstrual cups since I first started using them, with my SckoonCup, I now love them even more!
Questions? Want to share your own experience with reusable? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Thank you to SckoonCup for providing samples of the products mentioned in this post. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of the Green Moms Network, and the content and opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Make sure you check out SckoonCup on Facebook, Pinterest, Instragram, Twitter, and Google+.