Did you know that every woman throws out an average of 10,000 to 15,000 tampons, panty liners and pads in her lifetime? Luckily, there are other options you can consider when it comes to feminine hygiene: alternative, reusable menstrual products. Not only are they better for the environment, they’ll also save you money and are better for your health. Curious? Keep an open mind and read on for several interesting options.
The menstrual cup
Made of either latex (the Keeper) or silicone (the DivaCup and the Moon Cup), a menstrual cup is a little funnel-shaped container with a ”tail” on the end (kind of like a tampon’s string). The cup is inserted into the vagina to catch the flow from your period. You can use the same one for up to 10 years.
How do you use it?
*After washing your hands, fold the cup in half (it’s flexible) and insert it, positioning it comfortably using your thumb and forefinger. Be sure to relax your vaginal muscles as you do this– the principle is the same, more or less, as inserting a tampon.
*Once it’s well inserted, release the cup; it will then open up. Gently turn it (one full rotation) with your fingertips to make sure it’s in the open position. At this point, a suction will occur against the inner walls of the vagina, preventing the blood from flowing on the outside.
*You may find it more comfortable to sit on the toilet when you remove the cup. Pinch the base of the cup, allowing the passage of air into the vagina, so you can remove it easily and comfortably.
*Next, empty the cup into the toilet. If your cycle is not over, rinse out the cup or wipe it with toilet paper before reinserting it.
*When your period is over, leave the cup in a glass of water mixed with vinegar (1 part vinegar to 9 parts water) for about 24 hours, then rinse it out and wash it with a gentle soap before putting it back in its case.
Once you understand how to insert and use it, you’ll appreciate the freedom of the cup. Unlike a tampon, which needs to be changed regularly, you can leave in the cup for longer periods of time– you may actually even forget you have your period!
1. The Keeper (latex), approximately $45 at www.keeper.com
2. The Moon Cup (silicone), approximately $45 at www.keeper.com
3. The DivaCup (silicone), approximately $45 at www.divacup.com