Menstrual cups such as the modern Mooncup® aren’t new: they’ve been around for decades. But they still remain a mystery for a lot of women. That’s a massive shame because 27,938 used tampons and applicators wash up on beaches around the world every day. And 1.5 billion sanitary items are used in the UK alone each year.
Mooncups are reusable, environmentally friendly, and exceedingly economical alternatives. What’s more, Mooncup is an employee-owned small business that just happens to be one of the top ten companies in the world.
I first heard about menstrual cups in 2000, aged 20, but it wasn’t for another two years – after I had moved to Brighton – that I bought one for myself. My timing was good. The year I moved to Brighton just happened to be the year Mooncup launched its reusable silicone menstrual cup. Everyone I knew was talking about it.
For me it felt like a natural and sensible option. It was reusable, comfortable and paid for itself in just a few months. No more midnight trips to the local shop to buy products I hated using. My Mooncup was always there, always ready.
But as I spoke about my new purchase with other women, I realised not everyone felt the same. Some people think the whole idea is completely disgusting. Is that because we have been taught by society to feel ashamed of our bodies and their inner workings?
And then India
I was pretty oblivious to these feelings of disgust, and one day I packed my Mooncup into my rucksack and headed off to India. It was perfect for the first couple of months: I used bottled water to clean it and sterilised it between uses with Milton tablets. There was no need to hunt around at the last minute for bleached tampons or uncomfortable pads. What could be easier?
At some point I took a train across the length of the country. Train rides in India tend to be long, loud, smelly, hot and cramped. This one lasted at least two nights. I had my period but it was ok: I had my Mooncup, a bottle of water and a little square of soap. People came around selling samosas and cups of chai. What more did I need?
But then disaster struck
Indian trains have squat toilets that open straight onto the track. I don’t know if the train jolted or if I simply lost concentration for a moment but suddenly, as I squatted, my Mooncup slid out of my hand and onto the track below. I’ll spare you the details but put it this way: it was a very long train ride. Going back to other menstruation products for the duration of my trip was hard for me.
I understand that some women see their own blood as disgusting. But I find bleached sanitary products that block up drains and fill landfills much more repulsive – and expensive too.
After going through a few months of using regular sanitary products, I was certainly glad to come back to the UK and purchase my second ever Mooncup. Now, as I approach the end of my second decade of Mooncup use, I really can’t imagine going back to spending money on uncomfortable throwaway towels or tampons ever again.