While the use of various materials as pads or tampons can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, disposable sanitary pads wouldn’t be available for purchase until the late 1800s. Three decades later, in 1929, a physician named Dr. Earle Haas patented and invented the modern-day tampon complete with applicator. Over the next hundred years, women in the developed world came to rely on either one of those products (or both) for their period-care needs, and that was the end of it.
It wasn’t until this past decade, with the advent of third- and fourth-wave feminism, period activism, and advances in the understanding and communication surrounding women’s reproductive health that other options started to enter the mainstream. Indeed, women now have access to more viable options, allowing them to pick the product that best suits their needs and fits their values, from period underwear (a.k.a period panties) to menstrual cups and tampliners (tampon plus liner in one).
Curious and experimental as always, the Goodness team decided to put one of these products, the menstrual cup, to the test. For the purpose of this experiment, we teamed up with Lunette, the Danish brand behind one of the first cups ever and the only one to pass what they call “the vigorous Danish chemical safety test”.
Read on to find out how three of our staffers felt about their first period with a menstrual cup.
Frankie Rozwadovska, Writer
I’m going to be honest; my Lunette cup and I were not instant friends. I’d go so far as to say that we didn’t like each other very much. At all. But having researched and written about the devastating effects our period products have on the environment, I knew I had to make the switch.
We spent a good while sizing each other up when we first met, which mainly consisted of me staring at it, trying to work out how on earth to actually put it in. The instruction to “boil your cup for 20 minutes” also put me off, and watching it bob around in the pan I usually use to heat my soup was a tad off-putting…
Yes, it took a few goes to get it right; it’s an awkward shape and one most women have never had down there before, so I forgave myself for freaking out a little and being a bit of a wimp. The key is to relax and go slow, and I found that, if the surface of the cup was a little wet, the process was easier (sorry, TMI – but we’re all friends here).
Once successfully in place, the cup was surprisingly comfortable – to the point where I actually forgot it was there. I was convinced I’d leak all over my jeans and pictured waking up in the morning with bedsheets that looked like something out of a horror film, but to my surprise, not a drop – and no smell. So far, so good.
Taking it out, however, also proved to be a challenge. It’s so tempting to just pull on the little stem, but that’s a no-no, so after a lot of delving, rocking, and awkward tugging, out it came.
Like with anything in life, practice makes perfect, and with each use, it became easier and easier until I didn’t think anything of it. Now? We’re BFFs (best flow friends) and I’d never go back.
Noor Tehini, Co-Founder
I’m all for reducing the amount of waste we are each responsible for and making more conscious decisions for both our body and our planet, so when the Lunette menstrual cup was delivered to my office, I was excited to try it out – and ready to love it.
It sat in my bathroom drawer for a couple of weeks before it was time to put it to the test. The first day of my period is typically quite light, so I didn’t feel the need to add a pad or liner for extra security. I found the insertion simple enough, but the stem felt very uncomfortable, so I followed the instructions to trim it and went to bed for our first night together.
The next morning, I spent a good seven minutes trying to get it out. The suction of the cup was so strong that I thought I was either going to pull my cervix out or have to go see my OB-GYN for an emergency removal (oh the wonderful places the mind wanders). Reading the instructions again, it occurred to me that I hadn’t in fact been following them (oops), and that a simple push on the wall of the cup would change its shape and break the suction seal. I’m happy to report that my cervix is still in place and no emergency medical procedure was underwent.
Interestingly, I realized that I had no idea how much I actually bled each month, due to the fact that I always wore tampons. So when the instructions called for the cup being changed every few hours depending on the heaviness of your flow, I freaked out, set a recurrent alarm every three hours, and added a pad for extra protection.
That first day, I kept racing back and forth to the bathroom, worried about a leak. I would experience a total of two over the next 24 hours: one at the gym and one at night while I was asleep. Luckily, I was wearing a pad both times. Was it that I hadn’t inserted it correctly? Or that the shape didn’t fit my anatomy perfectly?
I will never know, because the next day, while emptying out the blood in a public bathroom at the mall, my cup slipped out of my hand and into the toilet boil. So much for that. Next experiment: period panties.
Kris De Jesus, Head of Creative
The first time I wore my cup was a disaster, mainly because I was too scared to push it in completely and check if it was in the correct position. The result? It was all a bloody mess by the time I woke up.
That being said, it wasn’t long before I got the hang of it with a little bit of practice, and it was smooth sailing from then onwards. My advice? Experiment with different ways of putting it in. At first, I was using the “C-fold” method, but realized on the last two days of my period that the “punch-down fold” made it so much easier for me to slide it in.
It’s safe to say that I’m sold on the menstrual cup; I love how freely I can move when I’m wearing it versus with tampons or pads. I still wear a panty liner, though, just to be on the safe side, even though I’ve never once had any leakage since figuring out how to properly use it. My favorite part? I’ve always been very sensitive to the smell of period blood, but I have not once had that issue since using the cup.