Chinese Swimmer, Fu Yuanhui, made international headlines when she discussed her period following her team’s Olympic performance. Her team placed 4th in the 4x100 meter medley relay, narrowly missing a medal. (Fu went on to win an individual bronze in back stroke). Fu admitted she was grimacing with abdominal pain following the race because she started her period the day before, but she was not using her period as an excuse for not swimming her best. In China, menstruation is still regarded with shame and distaste. While shame is too harsh to describe period-talk in American culture, the topic is not exactly mainstream discussion.
The New York Times article featuring Fu, discusses tampons being an option for swimmers who are on their period. In China you can purchase tampons online, but they are not a popular product. I used to consider tampons to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, until I discovered this…
I discovered the menstrual cup when I was browsing a cloth diapering website five years ago. It works like a tampon, but it is reusable. For those of you who are a bit squeamish, I will save you the details for now, but I am going to attempt to convert you (or your wife or girlfriend) should you dare to read on. I realize that reusable menstrual products sounds like a very crunchy, granola, hippy thing, but I assure you its more than just being natural and organic. Menstrual cups will save you time and money, and they are simply better for your body than using tampons.
When you learn about tampons you learn about TSS, or toxic shock syndrome. TSS is a rare but life threatening bacterial infection that can be caused by leaving in a tampon for too long. In 1980 there were 314 deaths from TSS in menstruating women in the US, in 1998 it was only 3. (CDC reference) This is no longer a huge risk thanks to better regulations and instructions for tampon use. Although using a tampon is not life threatening, tampons absorb fluid from your body and strip the vaginal lining of blood along with mucus and good bacteria. The menstrual cup, by contrast, catches what would naturally come out of the vagina during menstruation and takes nothing that it normally wouldn’t.
Tampons are almost all made from bleached rayon. Bleach and other chemicals are absorbed by your vagina and could be potential carcinogens. Pads are not innocent either, many brands contain perfume and dyes that are absorbed by the body and are also potentially harmful. Menstrual cups do not contain BPA, latex, dyes, or other additives. They are silicone containers to catch the blood, and they feel completely normal and natural.
Using a menstrual cup will save you money. A menstrual cup is made from medical grade silicone and it can last 5-10 years. They range from $30-$50 and come in a variety of sizes and types. Lets say you use a menstrual cup for two periods, with tampons/pads running anywhere from $15-$30 a box, the cup will entirely pay for itself. Then you can continue to use it for five years! That’s a savings of $1200 or more. The tampon industry will hate you for converting, but you will be so happy you did.
It tones your muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles get stronger by holding the menstrual cup. From a practical standpoint this makes it easier to insert and remove the cup when these muscles are more toned. But it can also lead to better control over that area in general, which also means better sex, and more intense orgasms.
Why aren’t menstrual cups a main stream product?! This is probably because there is very little money to be made in menstrual cups. Fifty percent of the adult and young adult population spends up to $500 per person, per year, on disposable menstrual products. There is a ton of money to be made in the disposable menstrual products and on advertising these products. If every woman purchased a menstrual cup for $30 and it lasted 5-10 years the disposable product industry would cease to exist. Don’t listen to the main stream media! If you purchase one of these lovely products it can truly could change your life.
For further reading here is a buzzfeed article on the topic:
There are tons of youtubers out there who will share their love. This young girl is particularly helpful:
Read more of Caitlin's blog at traditionalfoodsmodernlife.com