Thursday, 29 January 2009

Over the Mooncup

If you're a menstruating woman and you read Tampon or sea sponge? you'll be interested to know that there's an innovative product on the market that can enhance the effectiveness of the natural sponge and make it just that little bit more secure.

I'm talking about the Mooncup which could quite possibly be inserted after the sponge to act as an extra barrier against 'seepage'. The two products together will set you back under £20 and may well last several years. As well as the satisfaction of knowing that you're not stuffing the coffers of big business, you'll also know that you're not stuffing artificial fibers where they didn't ought to be!

Katie Toms did some stuffing and wrote all about it...

FLICKING through some back issues of AMP the other day, I was pleased to be enlightened by Suki Kent about alternative menstrual products [the sea sponge]. Made of silicone, the Mooncup looks like an over sized, rubbery see-through party popper and smells like one of those power balls you were always warned as a kid take people's eyes out.


The idea is that you insert the cup, empty out the collected blood, wash and reuse. Thereby no waste ends up in landfill, incinerators or floating past you when enjoying a swim or surf. The Mooncup scores further ecological brownie points by leaving no fibrous deposits inside you. It is not bleached with nasty chemicals and has never caused Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). The Mooncup is a one off purchase of £17.99. Not cheap, but the investment will save you the monthly cash splurge on tampax or towels.


Shocked to discover that women are not forever chained to Tampax and sanitary towels, I feel more than a bit cross that the school period lady failed to mention menstrual cups. But nothing can spoil my glee at the thought of giving the beauty industry the middle finger and making a miniscule but victorious dent in their profits.


Friends do not share my enthusiasm and react to the Mooncup with a mixture of disgust and fascination. Incidentally, none of them have heard of it either. My sales pitch about the ecological and health benefits is drowned in a sea of urghs and pulled faces.

'Gross! You'll have to look at all that blood when you tip it out!' shrieks one. 'It'll go everywhere!', says another. Undeterred, their wails strengthen my resolve to try the Mooncup and record the experience in the interests of female freedom and cash-flow.


A few weeks later I embark on my first Mooncup experience unsure whether we are going to remain best friends or if it will end in a bloodbath-style battle. My warrior attitude is starting to wobble as thoughts of blood and gore flit across my mind. Will my new love sustain ER style incidents of blood splattered across the bathroom floor?

When the novelty wears off will I deviously sneak back into the safety of Tampax's arms? Then there is the public loo dilemma: Will my hardcore feminist values melt in the face of swilling out my own blood in public? I decide it's all or nothing. I'm not having any of this half-arsed, 'only round the house' stuff. Giving Tampax the finger is going to be hollow when I come crawling back for going out supplies.


I feel an odd surge of adrenalin, like the wriggly bum excitement you get as a child on Christmas Eve. Eyeing the tampons on the shelf I think 'So long you capitalist bastards! No more will you drain my bank balance and leave fibrous deposits inside me!'


I study my Mooncup leaflet and discover that I need to trim the stem. This is the sticky bit at the end of the party popper which you use to pull the Mooncup out, like the string on a tampon. I agonise for ages about how much to trim off. Like the hair on those hideous plastic Barbie heads: get too carried away and it won't be growing back.

Inserting the Mooncup is the bit I find most difficult. The instructions tell you to fold it in half, then in half again, insert it and allow it to pop back into shape. After a few attempts I'm feeling totally fed up. The rubbery material keeps trying to pop open before I've got it in.

It's a bit like the finger and thumb fiddliness of tying a knot in a balloon minus the crowd of small children clamouring around you. Accidentally let go and the Mooncup pops out of your hands with comedy timing.


It all feels like an ordeal for the first few days, but by the end of my period I discover a technique that works for me and I'm popping it up there like a pro. A bonus of the Mooncup is that unlike a tampon you can insert it in, or whilst still wet from, a bath or shower. It's actually easier to insert when wet. Hurrah! No more blood stained towels! No having to mess about with soggy loo roll before inserting a tampon!

I am happy to report that the worrying blood-flinging session never happened. The Mooncup is actually easier to remove than a tampon. Sitting on the toilet to remove it I realise that any slight spillage just goes down the loo. You just grab the whole thing and pull. Plus there is no chance of the Mooncup getting lost or stuck and you can't ever insert two, however absent-minded you are being.


Also, unlike costly tampons, it doesn't matter how many times you change the Mooncup and there's no need to carry bulky supplies around. It's either in, or it's in your bag waiting. No more late night trips to the garage, no more having to blag tampax off work colleagues, no more money for Messers Procter and Gamble...


The public loo test gets off to a shaky start. I empty it into the loo and wipe it out but realise I need water. I am in a busy University toilet. I can hear chatting and giggling at the sinks. This is the point where I'm supposed to bounce out of the cubicle radiating feminist vigour, rinse the bloody Mooncup in the sink and return to the cubicle again to insert it.

When it comes to the crunch, I bottle out. But the Mooncup has got me this far home and dry. I'm not about to betray it with a tampon. Instead I use a bottle of drinking water to rinse it out. I hear more giggling, probably because it sounds like a horse peeing.


My Mooncup joy starts to wear off when on my heaviest day I wake to find it has leaked. On the plus side, there are no full on state-of-emergency type leaks requiring a change of clothing. The few leaks there are amount to damp patches. Nothing compared to my illustrious back catalogue of leakages involving regular use of a jumper tied around my waist to cover a tell-tale red patch. In the end I realise simply changing the Mooncup more frequently rules out any leaks.


By the end of my period I feel a strange sense of pride in my Mooncup. Well done little Mooncup! I cheer as I wash the blood down the sink. I like the way I can see what is coming out rather than pulling out a weird bloody lump. Over the week I see the blood slow to a brown dredge and I'm fascinated to be able to pinpoint exactly when it stops.


I have one worrying moment lying in bed thinking about all the blood in the Mooncup going back up inside me and sloshing around. Slosh, slosh, slosh. Yuk. I soon realise this is totally stupid as there is no huge cavity inside me for it to slosh around in. Silly school Tampax diagrams. I drift off to sleep chanting in my head 'Mooncup, Mooncup. How I love my Mooncup!'


One period and six bloodgushing days later, time for an evaluation:

Tampons used: O
Hideous blood-flinging incidents: O
Massive embarrassing leakages: O
Proceeds to the beauty industry: £O
General all round happy bunniness of me: huge

I am delighted, and look forward to never buying another tampon ever again.

'Borrowed' from:

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