Moon cup review

So earlier this year I wrote a pretty frank and graphic post about my post-baby periods – heavy, horrible and combined with never-ending diarrhoea. It got to the point where I was feeling so rank and losing weight so rapidly, that I started charting my own poop on an Excel spreadsheet before heading to the doctors, graph in hand. As a result, I’m back on the pill to even out my hormones, which, on the plus side has sorted out the runs, but on the minus has sent my cycle all over the shop.

Anyway, because I haven’t been quite sure whether I’m coming on or going, I shilly-shallied for a while before trying my newly purchased Mooncup. But today was the big day, so here’s an honest review for anyone thinking about getting one.

To give you a little context, prior to my psycho shower scene copper coil periods, I have always been more of a one-day bleed, four-day marmite kind of girl, so I never felt that guilty about using tampons, as it was possibly eight per month in total. Then things started totting up – to maybe 20 a month. That’s around 200 a year….and over my bleeding lifetime that’s a shedload – or approximately 136kg – of blood-soaked little mousies finding their way into the system.

Combine this with the fact that I recently read a report in the Guardian about the sewer tunnels under London and the people whose job it is to go down into the murky depths and  hack apart fat bergs – giant congealed masses of fat from the hundreds of kitchens across the city. Bad enough in itself you might think, but then imagine that that lump of lard is embedded with wet wipes, faeces, sanitary pads and yes, you guessed it, tampons, a manky, meaty menstrual meatball blocking up the sewers, which has to be manually scraped out by teams of workers. After reading that, I stopped putting my tampons down the toilet, wrapping and binning them instead. To be honest it didn’t take long after I started handling my own sanitary wear instead of just quickly flushing it out of sight out of mind,  that I got to thinking how gross it was – and how wasteful. That’s where the moon cup part came in.

I knew at least two people who used them already, who had previously sung their praises, and so I decided the time had come to dive in. I have to admit it’s taken a bit of working up to. I came on a few days ago, but it was very light to start off with. The thought of shoving a giant silicon egg-cup up my food was not that appealing. I reasoned with myself that I was just using up the sanitary ware that I already had. Then that I didn’t want to risk a leak at my seven-year-old’s swimming party – that really would be embarrassing mum stuff.

Anyway, step one, I had to boil the bugger in a saucepan for 5-7 minutes. Then, fresh from the pan, I took it into the bathroom. I squatted, folded it, shoved it in. What can I say? Not the comfiest of experiences – that slight teeth-squeaking feeling of halloumi cheese ickiness, as the rubbery dome scraped against my insides. But then, just like that, it was in. No better, no worse than when I first used a tampon and could definitely feel it sitting inside me. In contrast, I couldn’t feel the cup internally at all.

The instructions say that you should be able to run your finger around the edge of it and twist it to check that it’s inserted correctly. I had a go at this, just to be sure the cup was in the right place, but I have to say that was a little sore, and yucky, and reminded me of the advice given in the end-days of pregnancy, where perineal massage is considered something you might want to be doing with your time. So I desisted. The next step is that the cap comes with a long nozzle thing that dangles down, that you trim according to the size of your vaginal passage. The stem should not be hanging out of you! The advice is to shorten it bit by bit, which does lead to a bit of hokey cokey pokery as I got the thing out, trimmed off the stem, stuck it back in, got it back out, trimmed a bit more, until finally it is was not possible to feel it when I wipe my frances after going for a wee.

Getting it in and out is…..OK. With the stem on, it was easy enough to grasp and tug, coming out like a bath time plug, but once the stem was gone, it became considerably more tricky. After two hours with it in, I thought I felt the gushy rush that normally precedes a major leak, but when I went to the loo, the paper was clean. Phantom leak! At my heaviest, two hours could be enough to demand a new tampon, but when I took the cup out, by sitting on the loo, breathing in and inserting a finger to break the seal and then breathing out and pushing down quite hard with my pelvic floor, it was only full to the first line. The moon cup holds nearly 30ml of fluid compared to the biggest tampon sizes holding just 18ml. It looked like the last slug of wine in a teeny goblet. Quite fascinating to actually see how much  / little blood comes out of you!

Anyway, I emptied it into the toilet, rinsed it in the sink and stuck it back in. I then wore it in a swimming pool for the next four and a half hours. No leaks, no pain, couldn’t feel it. Just emptied it on my return home after six hours, it was possibly 1/6 full. So, so far so good. I can’t imagine doing it at work is going to be as easy – the guide recommends having a small bottle of water in your bag to rinse your hands and the cup – or perhaps wipes would serve the same purpose, though that brings me back round to the indestructible products in the system guilt again.

Writing this article has also led me to read around the subject a little; from the CNN article about the fact that some tampons and towels have been tested and found to contain carcinogens, to problems encountered by refugees and homeless women coping with periods and the charities that have been set up to try and help them.

So far – being only on day one – I’m going to give the Mooncup a cautious thumbs up, seven out of ten, and definitely spread the word as my crimson tide adventures continue.img_3493




Slime, blood ‘n’ poop

One of the things I’ve noticed a lot of lately is slime. And by that I mean pant slime, not just standard child slime, which can be found approximately mid-way down my thigh or located in the blindspot no man’s land of my shoulder/breast. A quick straw poll among the ageing crone population that makes up my friendship group shows that many of us seem to be struggling with really painful and obvious ovulation post-kids. There’s so much goo in trickling out of me some days I feel like I could just slide my kids into the playground on a sledge. Who knew that this was a thing? No one warned me. It seems I am destined to spend more or less half of every month feeling – well, not terrible – but ‘a bit shit’.

I get my period, which, since having the copper coil fitted, is a slow and creaking process that begins with the dragging heave of my womb lining slipping away, one teensy little marmite teaspoon at a time. After maybe two or three days of pain and yeast-based product, enough to need a titchy towel, but not enough for anything else, I enjoy one to two days of psycho shower scene. Suddenly, on these days, I’m a ‘jumbo’ user and still taking agonising dashes to the stinky loo in Waitrose when I realise that elephant-sized is not enough for me and my vag. After that couple of days, things are more or less fine. But the point is, the period is not the end of it. I’ve also started getting the shits while I’m on, to the point where poop is pouring out of me like water. I can’t eat anything, I’m bleeding, and my tummy hurts….and yet this is a thing we’re just meant to get on with, and not be a moany cow about.

Then, after a week of being more or less zit and pain free, along comes the ovulation part of the month. Fuck me, it’s sore. This time it’s a bit like the egg has got itself a teaspoon, melted it down and created a whopping egg shiv, that it’s using to stab my insides over the course of three or four days. I can only imagine it’s because – as we are constantly reminded – ‘mature’ women (i.e. post -35) start to jettison their eggs. I guess those babies are just rolling out of me like cinema maltesers into my mouth, lemmings over the side of a cliff.

Again, this comes with a side order of the runs. Not as severe, but not ideal. I count myself as a feminist and periods are one of those issues that are becoming easier to mention without the rolling of eyes and PMT jokes ensuing but still leave you feeling like a bit of a whinge. I saw a great sketch by Amy Schumer on becoming president and getting her period the other night, and of course several female athletes have acknowledged not being at the top of their game because they were on the jam rag this summer.

I can’t help thinking that if men had blood coming out of the end of their penis for a week a month, while they simultaneously struggled with moderate to severe diarrhoea, the world would be a very different place.

Vive la France

The night we arrived in France I started my period. I hadn’t had many before, I wasn’t clued in to the warning signs. My knickers were stained with blood despite the wadges of toilet paper I had stuffed inside. My exchange partner was a boy. There was no way I could explain to him what was going on, and when we got to his house, I declined dinner and went straight upstairs to my room. Once there I changed my clothes, but I had no pads and I burst into tears with the stress of it all. The mum asked me if I wanted to call home. They couldn’t figure out why I was so distraught and I didn’t have the words to tell them, or any inclination to share my stained underwear.

The next day we went ice-skating. I awkwardly hugged the edge of the rink, the gigantic sanitary towel I had found in the bathroom cabinet lodged between my thighs as though I was riding a thoroughbred. Then I saw the most beautiful boy. His hair was dark and glossy and flopped over his tanned forehead. He wore a rollneck sweater – they all did – and blue denim jeans. His skin was clear of teenage acne, but it was his eyes that compelled me across the ice. They were a light aquamarine, a pool I wanted to dive into and never come up again.

I’ve no idea now how I summoned the nerve or found the words, but within minutes we were kissing and we spent the rest of the hour at the rink together, pressed up against the damp wall or skating round holding hands. He skated backwards, his fingers linked with mine, our eyes locked together. My exchange partner, Davide, seemed sour. My new love was his cousin, and so we saw each other again during the holiday, but never repeated our passionate embraces. Patrick gave me a ring before I left, a light tinny circle indented with stars.

I wore it on my thumb and for many years it was like a talisman, a sign that good things had happened to me. I had been the girl who kissed the boy.