I first heard about the menstrual cup from a college friend who had made it her personal mission to urge every woman she knew to make the switch. She was more passionate about the cup’s perks than I ever thought it was possible to be about a menstrual hygiene product. Despite her enthusiasm, I wasn’t immediately convinced. A cup that you have to empty and wash every day? It sounded gross and hugely inconvenient. But after some other friends—and the internet—started buzzing about the cup, I became intrigued. I mean, it couldn’t be that gross, right? Plus, it promised greater comfort, less exposure to toxins, and more money in my bank account.
I finally took the plunge and bought one three years ago, and now I completely understand my friend’s enthusiasm. The cup may just be the best investment I ever made—seriously. If you’re considering one yourself, here are a few things that may convince you to finally try it.
1. It Takes Some Getting Used to, but It’s So Worth It
Remember the frustration and agony of trying to use a tampon for the first time at age 12? Well, that’s kind of what my first menstrual cup experience was like. It wasn’t the immediate love I expected, and I may have abandoned the cup completely if I hadn’t just spent $ 30 on it. But because of other menstrual cup users’ deeply held conviction that it was the best thing to happen to them, I knew I had to be missing something. Sure enough, it just took a few cycles to really get used to it. Know that menstrual cups have a bit of a learning curve for most women (at least it did for me and several women I know), but it will become second nature once you get the hang of using it.
2. It Didn’t Gross Me Out
Initially, my biggest objection to menstrual cups was the gross factor. The blood collects in the cup, so you have to empty it in the toilet and wash it before your next use. I get that this isn’t for everyone, but honestly, it’s no more disgusting than tampons, and considerably less gross than pads, in my opinion. The way I see it, menstruation is just something you have to deal with as a woman, and there’s no point in being squeamish about your own body.
3. It Ended Period Panic
Gone are the days when I set out for work in the morning only to realize an hour later—in a panic—that I hadn’t packed a supply of tampons or pads. Possibly the single greatest benefit of the menstrual cup is that you can wear it for up to 12 hours before you need to empty and clean it. This means I can get through an entire work day without even thinking about my period.
4. Sometimes I Even Forget I Have My Period
My period is way less of a hassle now that I’ve joined the cup fan club. You can’t feel the cup at all when you’re wearing it (looking at you diaper-sized pads), and a leak is extremely rare because it’ll hold even a heavy flow for at least eight hours (so you never have to deal with it in a public restroom—hurray!). Plus, you can say goodbye to embarrassing period odors because, as the Cleveland Clinic explains, the cup keeps the fluid from being exposed to the air, unlike tampons and pads.
5. I Save A Lot of Money
Menstrual cups come in a couple of different sizes and materials, but no matter which you choose, expect to spend about $ 30. (I’m a fan of the Diva Cup myself.) Even if you only spend $ 5 a month on a box of tampons, the cup will start saving you money after six months—and if you care for it, it can last for several years. You might spend a little more on a specially formulated soap to clean your cup (one bottle costs about $ 10 and lasts me about a year), but any unscented, water-based soap will do just fine.
6. I Feel Good About Being Green
Using a cup means I have zero smelly trash to contend with. That’s great for the aesthetic of my bathroom and for easing my eco-conscious mind. According to the book Flow: The Cultural History of Mensturation, the average tampon- and pad-using woman can expect to throw away 250 to 300 pounds of period-related trash during her lifetime. Even if you stay away from plastic applicators, tampons are still resource-intensive, thanks to the cotton, rayon, and cardboard used to make them. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, have a lot going for them on the eco front. They last several years, which surely offsets the manufacturing costs, and they’re usually made from silicone or rubber, so they’ll break down in the landfill at the end of their lives.