It's been exactly one year and 12 days since I bought my Mooncup. (It's funny, every time I write about periods, I get braver about it. It's like learning a new word when you're a child - you read the word, try to pronounce it, learn what it means, and take a fragile step the first few times you use it in case you're wrong. For some reason, this is how I feel about periods still, even though half of us have them and all of us know about them).
So, it's been exactly one year and twelve days. That makes it around 12.5 periods, and a noticeable change of camera, since I bought the little silicone cup that sits in you-know-where. And so I thought I'd share my experiences with you so that you can make a completely rational decision on whether you want one or not.
First off, the Mooncup's main selling points: it is incredibly sustainable, and incredibly cheap. Every year I would shell out roughly £10 per month on feminine hygiene products, or £120 annually. I'll never know why tampons and pads aren't considered essentials by the government in the same way that milk and eggs are, but tampon tax combined with those giant marketing budgets for ads that show some alien blue liquid soaking into a perfectly flat, non-sticky, non-irritating pad or tampon meant that I was paying quite a lot just to be a functioning woman.
The Mooncup is just £22.
This, combined with the fact that I wouldn't have to be throwing away so much stuff every month, won me over. I'd just finished reading Zero Waste Home, I had just started following Lauren Singer's blog Trash is For Tossers, and I was feeling feisty. I needed a change.
The Mooncup provided just that. It is a medical-grade silicone cup (not incredibly sustainable, but more sustainable than my other options) that comes in two sizes, one for women under 30 who have not given birth (Size B), and one for women over 30 or women who have given birth (Size A). You carry it around with you in a little cotton pouch until your crimson wave rolls into town, to which you then hurry to the loo, and fold it in one of two ways, before inserting like a tampon. Sounds easy right?
So, there's definitely a technique when it comes to using a Mooncup, and it's something I had to learn the hard way. When I first started using mine, it was tricky to insert, I wasn't sure if it was in properly, and at times it was uncomfortable. The panic that comes with that is probably worse than any accidents I've had, but it's enough to be off-putting, and in the beginning I would wear it along with a pad, which was cancelling out all reasons for using it.
You don't need to remove a Mooncup as often as a pad or tampon, but when you do, it's kinda messy. I prefer being at home when I take mine out, so I can give it a quick rinse before popping it back in, but that's not always possible.
On top of this, when you're finished using it for the month, you need to boil it up on the stove in a pan of water. It's really simple to clean, but it's not something I can do with my flatmate around or friends/family. Or, I can but then there's a lengthy conversation as to what I'm doing, why on earth I'm doing it, etc. etc.
I remember seeing Caitlin Moran talk at Green Man Festival a few years ago, and how she somehow managed to leak out her Mooncup onto Benedict Cumberbatch's white sofa. I remember this incredible clearly as I was so startled by the imagery, and had no idea what a Mooncup or a Benedict Cumberbatch was. Now, I know her pain.
Let's be honest, if you're squeamish, you're not going to get on well with a Mooncup. You are going to get up close and personal with your period on a regular basis, and when that one fated time comes where you're in a meeting and you know you're leaking, you're going to curse the Mooncup and all the lunar deities you can think of (here's a few to start you off: Phoebe, Selene, Artemis, Hermes, Thoth...)
After 12 months, I don't really have that worry any more, and I don't wear a pad or carry spare undies around with me either. I don't mind running wearing it, wearing a skirt, or even going swimming (although white trousers are still a no-no). However, thinking back over years of using other feminine hygiene products, I know there has been emergencies with those too.
I'm a fan of the Mooncup. It took me a year to post this as I've had real ups and downs with the little cup, but it's saved me a whole lot of money, a little bit of the environment, and I do feel confident wearing it knowing I'm not going to get Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). I feel closer to my body as I can gauge what's going on a little better, and I never need to run out to the shops to stock up.
If you're still unsure about going for the Mooncup at this stage, I'd recommend at least switching to an organic feminine hygiene brand such as TOTM. Made from 100% organic cotton instead of harsh chemical-laden rayon, organic cotton tampons and pads are better for the environment and also better for your body.
One final essential I would say is the Clue app. This will become your best friend over time: you log your period on its calendar, and over the months it will give you incredibly accurate predictions of when Mother Nature is going to return, as well as statistics about periods and other interesting information. Any time I wonder if I'm PMSing I look at my calendar to find out (and often it's the case...)
I hope this helps you make an informed decision about what's right for you. I also hope that you won't feel so afraid of your own period, or the pain and anxiety it brings; it's all natural, and we should be talking about it!